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The Origin of Poodle Cats

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Just to be clear, there was no hanky-panky between poodles and cats to make a poodle cat. Rather, in 1987 a stray cat in Montana had a litter of five kittens in which one kitten was bestowed with a genetic mutation that made its fur uniquely thick and curly. A breeder of persian cats, Jeri Newman, adopted the kitten and named her Agnes DiPesto (or Miss DiPesto) after the curly-haired receptionist in the popular 1980s TV show, “Moonlighting.”

Realizing that Miss DiPesto was an unusual cat, Jeri had her genetically tested and learned that indeed, Miss DiPesto was genetically distinct from other cats due to this random mutation in the fur gene. So, Jeri created a distinct bloodline of cats with this mutation dubbing them “poodle cats.” Nine generations later, researchers from the University of Vienna declared that indeed poodle cats are a distinct breed and the fourth recognized “curly hair” breed of cat, which are now scientifically referred to as Selkirk Rex.

Since, the mutation is dominant, poodle cats can be bred with other cat breeds and retain their unique thick curly fur. Hence, the wide variety of colors and both short and long-haired poodle cats. Some people refer to the breed as “a cat in sheep’s clothing.”

If you covet one of these plush kitties however, be prepared to fork over about $1000 as the breed is still rare. Furthermore, if you have even a hint of feline allergies a poodle cat is not for you — they shed frequently and copiously!


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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


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3:26PM PST on Mar 5, 2015

I. Want. A. Poodle Cat ! My cat was a devon rex, they actually look very similar. The fur looks almost identical. Well they are awfully cute, but idk if they are $1,000 cute lol.

1:35PM PST on Feb 18, 2015

Nah, I prefer alley cats! LOL

7:43PM PST on Feb 15, 2015

How about Furbies or Furballs.

7:38PM PST on Feb 15, 2015

Poodle cats, they could have found a better name for the poor cats, ineresting thank you for sharing.

7:06PM PST on Feb 15, 2015

Nice cat, but mine is really special and so lovable, thank you for sharing.

7:02PM PST on Feb 15, 2015

Interesting, thanks for writing.

2:37PM PST on Jan 8, 2015

I wonder when they will remove the spam?

12:47AM PST on Jan 7, 2015

Oops - should read "This is a dominant mutation".

And "If I've got that right?" should be a question. Please someone if there's anyone reading the thread that knows. Genetic inheritance - usually colour inheritance - in animals and birds fascinates me.

12:40AM PST on Jan 7, 2015

Now I've read the comments; -

Dale you made me laugh over your proposed treatment of spammers! Perhaps we should do the same with breeders of pedigree cats?

Some people are critical of breeding mutations. Hang on! This is a dominant mutations so it can be reproduced with outcrosses, because only one parent need carry the gene. The problems of breeding mutations occur when the mutation is recessive, so both parents need to carry the desired gene.

The other problem with breeding pedigree animals occurs when bloodlines go back a long way and the stud book has been closed to fresh outcrosses. This is unlikely to lead to health problems when the breed is new, unless a genetic defect is carried on the same chromosome (if I've got that last big right.)

I'm not sure what the original domestic cat looked like, but all the colours that rescue cats come in are all mutations from this original. So mutations in themselves are not necessarily harmful. The issue lies solely with pedigree cats occupying homes that could otherwise have been given to rescue cats.

3:02PM PST on Jan 6, 2015

Spam flagged.

Julie C "I'm just so happy it wasn't a cat with a poodle cut."

Wow! I'm trying to imagine it!

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