The LaPerm, unlike most breeds but typical of other rex breeds, owes its origin to one cat - Curly, who was born in 1982 on Linda and Dick Koehl's farm in The Dalles, Oregon. Several years of unregulated breeding gave rise to a small colony of curly, or rex coated cats on the farm and when selective breeding began these cats were the basis of the breed. As with other rex breeds, starting with a small gene pool meant that outcrossing to straight coated cats was vital to improve the size, health and strength of the breed's gene pool. Both long and short coats were present in the original colony and are recognised within the breed.
The LaPerm is a medium sized, curly coated cat of foreign type and is recognised in both longhaired and shorthaired varieties. The males tend to weigh 7 to 10 pounds ( 3.2 to 4.5 kg) while the females grow to be between 5 and 8 pounds (2.3 to 3.6 kg). Kittens are usually born with wavy coats but may be born with straight or virtually no coat, the curls or waves developing as they grow. Breeders in the US have bred selectively and today the majority of kittens are born with a curly coat. Many LaPerms have a heavy moult during their kittenhood, after which their coats grow back in curlier and thicker, but with minimal undercoat.
Of the breeds recognised by GCCF, the type of the LaPerm is most similar to that of the Abyssinian or Somali, with the slightly broader muzzle of the Ocicat. Although, like the Selkirk Rex, the curly coat is produced by a dominant gene and both longhair and shorthair varieties are recognised, there is no other similarity; the Selkirk Rex is a much rounder, cobbier cat, resembling the British Shorthair in type.
This document is seen as a way of ensuring breeders observe what is considered 'best practice' in their involvement with the LaPerm and particularly in their LaPerm breeding programmes.
It is vital that regular selective outcrossing is maintained to increase the gene pool and improve stamina and health. When breeding curly to curly it is vitally important that careful selections are made to ensure low inbreeding co-efficients. This is 'best for the breed' in its ongoing development.
The LaPerm gene (Lp) is dominant so LaPerm Variants do not carry the LaPerm gene, but may be useful in breeding programmes when mated back to LaPerms. LaPerms may carry the straight haired gene recessively so LaPerm x LaPerm matings can produce LaPerm Variants. LaPerms which carry the straight haired gene are known as Heterozygous LaPerms. Homozygous LaPerms do not carry the straight coated gene and will produce only rex coated offspring. There are no differences in appearance between Homozygous and Heterozygous LaPerms. The eventual aim of the LaPerm breeding programme is to produce Homozygous LaPerms but while the breed is still developing it is important to maintain breeding with both Homozygous and Heterozygous LaPerms.
The majority of matings are most likely to be between LaPerm x LaPerm, LaPerm x Approved Outcross Breed and LaPerm x LaPerm Variant. Matings between LaPerm Variant x LaPerm Variant cannot produce LaPerms but the offspring of such matings may be registered as LaPerm Variants.
Breeders should ensure, to the best of their knowledge, that any LaPerms or LaPerm Variants from which they breed are of sound temperament, free from any hereditary defects, (including those listed in the GCCF Standard of Points), and conform as closely as possible to the Standard of Points, (excluding the coat description where variants are concerned).
All cats used for outcrossing should be thoroughly researched, of sound temperament and free from any hereditary defects. Blood type B appears to be very rare in the LaPerm. It is recommended that cats with blood type B should not be introduced into the LaPerm breeding programme in order to prevent the occurrence of problems with blood type incompatibility.
LaPerms are not compatible with Cornish, Devon or Selkirk Rex. Such matings are therefore highly undesirable. The product of such matings will be registered on the Reference Register and cannot be considered to be LaPerms or LaPerm Variants. They cannot be used in any Rex breeding programme and should be placed on the non-active register. It is considered to be in the best interest of the LaPerm breed to keep it entirely separate from other incompatible Rex mutations.
Under no circumstances should any cat with Sphynx ancestry be introduced into the LaPerm breed. Selection for hairlessness contradicts the coat quality requirements for Rex cats. The product of any matings between Sphynx and LaPerms will be registered on the Reference Register. They cannot be considered to be variants nor be used in any LaPerm breeding programme and should be placed on the non-active register.
Breeders shall ensure that any LaPerms or LaPerm Variants from which they breed, shall be registered with the GCCF in accordance with the Rules in force at the time. It is recommended that the progeny from any matings that are not required for LaPerm breeding, should be placed on the Non-Active Register, to avoid the introduction of the LaPerm gene into other varieties of pedigree cats.
Breeds which have been approved for use in outcrossing are:
Somali, Abyssinian, Ocicat, Asian Shorthair, Tiffanie, Burmese (European Burmese in the case of imported cats), Tonkinese, Oriental SH, Oriental LH (Angora), Siamese and Balinese plus variants of these breeds.
All other breeds are listed as non-approved.
“Old fashioned” type is recommended for Siamese, Balinese, Oriental SH and Oriental LH (Angora) cats used for outcrossing and cats of extreme type should be avoided.
Domestic longhairs and shorthairs were used in the development of the breed in the USA and may appear in the background of the pedigrees of imported cats.
A wide range of breeds has been permitted for outcrossing during this early development of LaPerms in the UK in order to establish a large healthy gene pool. It is anticipated that the number of permitted outcross breeds will be reduced as LaPerms progress.
Breeders will be encouraged to take advantage of any relevant official scheme, which may be devised by the BAC to test the soundness of the LaPerm breed.
Note: It is recommended where the colour of a cat is in question a DNA test, (where such a test exists), be arranged.