Selkirk Rex is a breed of curly-haired cat with either short or long hair. Hair length is determined by mutations (changes in breed characteristics) that occur naturally rather than through a selective process by cat breeders.
The first Selkirk rex kittens were born near Wyoming’s Selkirk Mountains in 1987 to a straight-haired mother and an unknown father. Only one of the six kittens in the litter had a wavy coat. That cat was crossed later with a black Persian cat, and the resulting litter of six produced three wavy-haired kittens. This indicated a dominant gene for curly hair—one parent must carry that gene to produce curly-coated kittens. This trait distinguishes the Selkirk rex from Cornish rex and Devon rex cats, which also have wavy hair but require two parents with the wavy-haired gene to produce wavy-haired kittens. The Selkirk rex is one of the newest cat breeds, and breeders continue to develop it through selective crossing with other breeds. Because the breed is still young, few Selkirk rex cats are available as pets.
The Selkirk rex has a medium- to large-sized, large-boned body with back legs that are longer than the front legs. Other than its legs, its body structure is similar to that of the British shorthair cat. The Selkirk rex comes in many different colors and patterns, including colorpoint (characteristic large spots of darker fur on the face, ears, legs, and tail, contrasting with a lighter body coloring), with a thick coat of either short or long hair. Each hair is loosely curled, as are the whiskers, eyebrows, and tufts of fur in the ears. The hair curls tightest around the neck and on the stomach. A longhaired Selkirk rex appears curlier than a shorthaired cat of this breed. Unlike some curly-haired cats, Selkirk Rex fur feels soft.