Appearance and features:
The breed has been developed in two coat lengths, long and short. It is a large and solidly built breed, similar to a British Shorthair. The coat is very soft and has a woolly look and feel with loose, unstructured curls. The head is round, with large rounded eyes, medium-sized ears, and a distinct muzzle, whose length is equal to half its width.
This is a medium to Large-size cat weighing 6 to 16 pounds.
The breed is accepted in all colors, including the pointed, sepia, and mink varieties of albinism; bicolors; silver/smoke; and the chocolate and lilac series. This breed has an extremely dense coat and high propensity for shedding.
The Selkirk Rex originated in Montana, USA in 1987, with a litter born to a rescued cat. The only unusually coated kitten in the litter was ultimately placed with breeder, Jeri Newman, who named her Miss DePesto (after a curly-haired character in the TV series Moonlighting played by Allyce Beasley). This foundation cat was bred to a black Persian
male, producing three Selkirk Rex and three straight-haired kittens. This demonstrated that the gene had an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. All Selkirk Rex trace their ancestry back to the cat Miss DePesto. Jeri Newman named the breed after her stepfather, “Selkirk,” making this the first (and currently only) breed of cat to be named after an actual person.
The temperament of the Selkirk Rex reflects that of the breeds used in its development. They have a lot of the laid-back, reserved qualities of the British Shorthair
, the cuddly nature of the Persian
, and the playfulness of the Exotic Shorthair
The Selkirk Rex are a robust breed. Breeding towards proper head structure is necessary to prevent kinking of the tear ducts, resulting in tear run down the front of the face, or muzzle creases that can result in dermatitis on the face. Like other Rex breeds, irritation of the inside of the ear by curly fur can occur, increasing the production of ear wax. Homozygous cats (with two copies of the dominant Selkirk Rex gene) may have a tendency towards excessive greasiness of the coat, requiring increased frequency of bathing. Other health problems may be inherited from the outcross breeds used, including polycystic kidney disease from Persians and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy from British Shorthairs.