CFA LaPerm Breed Council

CH Dennigan French Maid of Shoalwater

The History of the LaPerm Cat

The first LaPerm was born in 1982 and was a spontaneous mutation in an otherwise normal litter of kittens. The breed founders, Linda and Richard Koehl owned a cherry farm in The Dalles, Oregon, and had obtained some farm cats for pest control. One of these was an ordinary brown tabby shorthair called Speedy who gave birth to a litter of kittens which included a rather bald female kitten with tabby markings on her skin. The Koehls were initially concerned about the kitten's appearance but she developed healthily and as she grew she developed a soft curly coat.

The kitten was given the name Curly and was given no special treatment, also working as a farm cat. In fact, she was nearly killed in an incident when she climbed into the warm engine of a pickup truck and was injured by the fan when the engine was started. She survived and became a house cat for a while recovering from her injuries and it was during this time that the Koehls came to fully appreciate her affectionate personality. She became pregnant and gave birth under a tree in the middle of a rainstorm one night. Linda Koehl heard strange noises and took a flashlight outside to find Curly fiercely defending her newborn kittens from barking dogs. Linda put the kittens into her pockets and took them into a warm barn to make them a safe nest in the hay. The next day when Linda was able to look at them in daylight she realized that all five kittens had the same appearance as their mother had at birth. All five were male and grew up to have the same soft curls. None of the five were neutered and their breeding activity led to many more curly coated kittens being born.

Linda found herself with a growing colony of unusual rex cats which included long and short coats. There was a range of colors and patterns including chocolate and colorpoints, due to the input of a local cat who had a Siamese mother. When people started commenting on her unusual cats and asking what they were, Linda did some research and realized that she had some kind of rex. She took some cats to a show to ask for feedback and was told by exhibitors, breeders and judges that she had something very special. Several key people in the USA cat fancies gave her their support and the breed has grown and to become a well established championship breed in the States with breeding programs in many other countries around the world.

The Dalles, Oregon is an area rich in Indian lore and legends one of which is of the woman Chief of the Wishram Indians, Tsagaglalal or She Who Watches. It was the spring of 1982 and working barn cats giving birth was nothing new to Linda and Dick Koehl; however, Linda had never actually witnessed the kittens being born so this time when one of her gray tabbies gave birth she watched. Nothing could have prepared Linda for what she was about to witness, for under the watchful eye of Tsagaglalal a kitten was born that would forever change Linda's life as well as that of the cat fancy. In a litter of six born that eventful day one was completely bald, nothing like her littermates or her mother. Linda said she was the ugliest kitten she had ever seen with no hair, a tabby pattern marked on her skin and large, wide-spaced ears. Linda had doubts about this kitten?s survival.

Survive she did, however, and within several weeks this ugly duckling began to transform into a swan, growing a soft, curly coat of fur. By the time it was three or four months old it had a full coat of curly hair and Linda found herself drawn to the feel of it; she couldn't help petting it and stroking it at every opportunity. Curly, as Linda named her, loved the attention. Curly's temperament was different from the other cats Linda and Dick had experienced; she was affectionate, gentle and trusting, enjoying the love and attention lavished on her but willing to wait her turn to receive it. Her personality seemed to be tied to the gene for her curly coat as Curly later gave birth to five male kittens, each of them bald at birth. As they grew their temperament was the same as Curly's, affectionate but not demanding. Unfortunately, Curly's insistence at remaining an outside cat resulted in her failing to show up one morning and she was never seen again. Equally unfortunate, there are no known pictures of Curly.

Over the next ten years as more and more bald kittens were born Linda began to seek additional information about unusual cats. At the urging of her friends she entered some of the curly coated cats as an exhibition in a CFA show to get the opinions of breeders more experienced than she. The master clerk at the show, Dennis Ganoe, happened by and stopped to stare at this new breed of cat, asking many questions. He made an announcement over the PA system that everyone should come see these unusual cats and before long a crowd had gathered clamoring excitedly about the LaPerm, the name given the breed by Linda in order to be able to enter the show and which means wavy or curly in several languages. It was at the urging of many of her friends and fellow breeders that Linda decided to begin the journey of having the LaPerm formally recognized as a new breed. Tsagaglalal is smiling.


1982 Curly, the first LaPerm, is born on the farm of Linda Koehl, The Dalles, Oregon
1992 The LaPerm is first exhibited at the Rose City Cat Fanciers show in Portland. The breed attracts breeders and judges alike
1997 Arrival of the first LaPerm in Japan
1997 The LPSA (LaPerm Society of America) is formed
1998 Arrival of the first LaPerms in New Zealand
2000 Recognition is granted by CFA (Cat Fanciers Assocation) in Miscellaneous class
2000 The LPSA (LaPerm Society of America) becomes affiliated to the CFA
2001 Arrival of first LaPerm in The Netherlands
2002 The first LaPerm arrives in the United Kingdom
2003 Arrival of the first LaPerm in Russia
2003 The first TICA LaPerm Champion is Dennigan's French Maid of Shoalwater
2004 The first LaPerms arrive in France & Australia
2005 The LaPerm is granted Provisional Status by CFA
2008 Championship Status granted in CFA
2008 The first CFA Grand Champion Pacific Gem BC Saguaro of Bosque