While the notion of a poodle cat might initially conjure images of a bizarre crossbreed straight out of “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the term is actually the common name for a new genetic cat breed confirmed by the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in Austria.
The breed, currently nine generations old, can be traced back to a litter of five kittens born in 1987 to a feral cat in Montana, according to Mother Nature Network. The thick, curly hair of one particular female kitten attracted the attention of Persian cat breeder Jeri Newman, who adopted the feline and named her “Miss DePesto.”
The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, dubbing the new breed Selkirk Rex, said the curly fur on the poodle cat comes from a random genetic mutation that originated with Miss DePesto.
The official published study of the breed, entitled “Selkirk Rex: morphological and genetic characterization of a new cat breed,” was authored by researchers at the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics’ Department for Biomedical Sciences at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
“Rexoid, curly hair mutations have been selected to develop new domestic cat breeds. The Selkirk Rex [or poodle cat] is the most recently established curly-coated cat breed originating from a spontaneous mutation that was discovered in the United States in 1987. Unlike the earlier and well-established Cornish and Devon Rex breeds with curly-coat mutations, the Selkirk Rex mutation is suggested as autosomal dominant and has a different curl phenotype,” the authors said in the abstract of the study.
Mother Nature Network said there are both longhair and shorthair varieties of the poodle cat, and they come in many different colors. Moreover, they are calm, peaceful animals because they are usually bred with Persian or British shorthairs.
The downside of the new poodle cat trend is the cost. An article in the Examiner reported the price of one of these cats can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to as much as $1,000.
While the scientific community is only just catching on, the poodle cat, or Selkirk Rex, has actually been a recognized breed of cat by various assocations over the past 20 years, including the International Cat Association, the American Cat Fanciers Association and the Cat Fanciers Association, Mother Nature Network said.