July 31, 2013 PetGuide
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Selkirk Rex

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 9-16 lb
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Physique: Sturdy body, thick coat
  • Best Suited For: Families with another cat. Does well in apartments and condos.
  • Temperament: Laid back, loving and playful. Loves to cuddle and needs lots of attention.
  • Comparable Breeds: Egyptian Mau, Oriental

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The Selkirk Rex is a new breed that developed naturally from a curly coated tortie and white housecat found in a shelter in Montana in 1987. That first cat, Miss Depesto of Noface, was given to breeder Jeri Newman who bred her to a black Persian. Three of the six kittens that were subsequently born to “Pest” had curly fur proving that her mutation for the distinctive coat was dominant, not recessive as is the case with the Devonshire Rex and Cornish Rex. The new breed was accepted for CFA championship status in 2000. Originally Newman claimed to have named the breed after the Selkirk Mountains, but as that range is located in British Columbia, not Wyoming, she admitted she named the cats for her stepfather. This fact makes the Selkirk Rex the only cat breed to be named for a person.

The Selkirk Rex has a patient, loving, and tolerant personality.

selkirk-rex-1The Selkirk Rex has a patient, loving, and tolerant personality.They are docile and good natured, and enjoy nothing more than cuddling with the human of their choice. With something of a reputation for being clowns, Selkirk’s quickly win the hearts of those they meet. They are especially adept at opening doors, have a thing for playing with their human’s toes, and are known to jump on the backs of their people at any opportunity. They will literally pester you for attention, and they do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. Curiously, they are not actually demanding, but they don’t like to be ignored when they’ve asked for a few minutes of your time. Softly conversational, they speak when they are spoken to. Agile and interactive, the Selkirk Rex is a devoted and entertaining companion.

The Selkirk Rex is a heavily boned, large cat reminiscent of the burly British Shorthair. There are no flat planes on the rounded head. The curls in the coat are loose and plush, with a more dramatic configuration in longer haired individuals. From birth, the whiskers are also curly and have a tendency to break off when they get too long. There is no change in either the coat or whiskers as the cat ages. The least amount of curl is typically seen down the back. These cats are both sturdy and very healthy.

selkirk-rex-2Virtually every combination of color and pattern is acceptable for this breed including colorpoint. The coat should curl randomly rather than have any distinctive pattern.

Since both long and short haired versions of the Selkirk Rex are present, grooming is dependent on coat length. The curly coat should not be brushed all that often, and shampoos could be chosen that do not leave any coating on the fur. The goal is for the cat’s hair to be as clean and silky as possible to encourage the maximum amount of curl. These cats are not good for people with allergies, since they do shed more than either the Devon or Cornish Rex.

Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau

  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 7-9 lb
  • Lifespan: 18-20 years
  • Physique: Muscular, long body
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles with other pets
  • Temperament: Athletic, intelligent, loyal, playful
  • Comparable Breeds: American Shorthair, Ocicat
Go to Oriental


  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 6-12 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Physique: Medium-sized breed
  • Best Suited For: Families with children. People who have time to give it lots of attention.
  • Temperament: Attention seekers and vocal. Inquisitive and extremely people oriented.
  • Comparable Breeds: Siamese, Havana Brown