In 1987 a feral blue tortie and white cat in Montana had a strange looking kitten in a litter of 5. At 9 weeks she came to the attention of Persian breeder Jeri Newman who took the kitten and named her Miss DePesto because she was always pestering for attention. Jeri was able to find out that her mother had hair that was not completely normal either-it had a slight kink right at the end. Miss DePesto had curly whiskers, brillo hair in her ears and the coat on her body looked like a body wave. She had a narrow muzzle with a strong whisker break, prominent cheekbones, slanted eyes and a wide flat spot between her large ears. Like a Cornish Rex, her body was heavy but her boning was fine and her legs were long.
Jeri established that Miss Depesto's littermates all had normal coats and that there were no other curly cats in the area leading her to believe that Miss DePesto might be the source of a new mutant rex gene. At 14 months of age, Jeri bred Miss DePesto to her black Persian male Ch. Photo Finish of Deekay and eagerly awaited the kittens. On July 14 Miss DePesto had a litter of 6 kittens of which 3 were definitely curly. These results proved hat the gene was a dominant unlike that of the CR and DR and that Miss DePesto carried longhair. TICA accepted the Selkirk Rex into the New Breed program in 1990 and recognized it for championship competition in February 1994.
These are loving, patient cats reflecting the temperaments of the breeds used to develop the Selkirk Rex. The British Shorthair contributed the laid-back personality, the Persian added the cuddly nature while the Exotic Shorthair brought an impish playfulness to package. Visitors are always intrigued by the cats and want to touch their coats while owners have incredible urges to pick and hug their charges-fortunately the Selkirk Rex is a patient cat that accepts these human foibles with great tolerance.
Selkirk Rex come in both long and shorthair coats. The shorthairs have a dense, plush curl to the coat that emphasizes the density of the coat and a similarity to a teddy-bear; longhairs have an even more tousled look that emphasizes the similarity to a woolly sheep. And both hair lengths come in a rainbow of colors. Lucky pet owners will always have the best coats on their cats as coats are seen in their prime on mature altered males and spayed females. The curls are most prominent on the flanks, undersides and neck. The thick, plush coat is very soft and falls in loose curls.
They are a medium to large cat with strong, heavy boning giving them a substantial feel but take time to develop to their full maturity. The head is rounded with large round eyes and a sweet expression. The body is slightly rectangular and very muscular resulting in a firm feel under the soft coat.
Health Issues Common to Selkirk Rex
All pedigreed cats have some sort of health problem, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The Selkirk Rex is generally healthy, but because he can be outcrossed to Persians, Exotic Shorthairs and British Shorthairs for reasons of genetic diversity, he has some health problems that may be of concern, especially if you aren't careful about who you buy from. They are polycystic kidney disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hip dysplasia. The Selkirk does not appear to have any of these problems to any great degree, but it's smart to ask a breeder whether she takes any steps to screen for them or if any of these conditions have appeared in her lines.
Polycystic kidney disease is a hereditary condition causing enlarged kidneys and kidney dysfunction. It usually shows up between 7 and 10 years of age, although it can appear as early as 3 years of age. Reputable breeders are working to establish PKD-free breeding programs. Because PKD is linked to an autosomal dominant gene, it is easy to identify and eliminate. If one of a Selkirk kitten's parents is an Exotic, Himalayan or Persian, ask the breeder to show proof that the cat has been screened for PKD.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats and causes enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. You may have heard that it is caused by poor nutrition, but that isn't true; the disease is hereditary. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your Selkirk Rex, an echocardiogram conducted by a veterinary cardiologist can confirm whether he has HCM. Avoid breeders who claim to have HCM-free lines. No one can guarantee that their cats will never develop HCM. Selkirks that will be bred should be screened for heart murmurs.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary defect of the hip socket. It can be mild, causing little or no pain, or it can eventually lead to severe lameness. A Selkirk with hip dysplasia may move slowly or avoid jumping. Depending on the severity of the condition, weight loss, medication or surgery can help to relieve pain. Selkirks who will be bred should have their hips x-rayed and graded by a veterinary orthopedic specialist at 2 years of age. Ask the breeder to show evidence that a Selkirk kitten's parents have hips that have been rated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals as fair, good or excellent. Do not buy from a breeder who does not provide a written health guarantee.
Pet Insurance for Selkirk Rex
Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.