grey and white Selkirk Rex cat
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Selkirk Rex Cat Breed Profile

Est. read time: 8 min.

Ever dreamed about a teddy bear coming to life? How about a pet that wanted nothing more than to cuddle up beside you and take a nap? Enter: the Selkirk Rex. This lovable and relaxed cat breed is the perfect companion for a laid-back pet parent. The Selkirk Rex will look for any reason to curl up on your lap.

This adorable breed is recognized for their curly coat. The Selkirk Rex’s coat is fluffy and soft to the touch, though you might be surprised by the heavy boning and solid bodies underneath. 

Selkirk Rex cats are amazing sidekicks for people who are looking for a cuddly best friend. To learn more about these curly cuties, continue reading!

Selkirk Rex ...at a glance
Personality Laid-back, loving, sociable
Life expectancy 10-15 years
Weight 7-16 lbs
Coat & colors Short or long, curly; various colors & patterns
Energy level Medium
Affection level High
Friendliness High
Shedding level Low to Medium
Required grooming Medium

Overview of the Selkirk Rex

closeup of brown Selkirk Rex cat face

Selkirk Rexes are solid cats, and their fluffy fur can distract the eye from their actual mass. They are deemed medium to large in size, with males being slightly larger. These cats are muscular and well-balanced, but they aren’t the most active breed around.

Their faces are very distinct, with large round eyes that resemble those of a Persian cat. In general, the Selkirk Rex is a round-looking feline: round face, round ears, round body. 

Weight

A Selkirk Rex is one dense teddy bear, weighing 7 to 16 pounds. As a Selkirk Rex gets older, they’re more likely to put on a few extra pounds. This is because they’re one of the more docile cat breeds out there. 

While they do enjoy playing, they prefer to nap. You might need to initiate playtime to ensure that your Selkirk Rex is getting enough exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. 

Length

These cats are often a tad heavier than other cat breeds, but not dramatically so. The main difference is their length—the Selkirk Rex is very long, which can give them the appearance of being bigger than they are. From the tips of their noses to the ends of their tails, they can reach up to 30 inches in length. 

Coat

Undoubtedly what stands out most about a Selkirk Rex is their unique curly coat. This coat can be short or long, as well as any coloration, pattern, or combination thereof. 

The curls that the Selkirk Rex has are not like the waves of a Devon Rex. Instead, they more closely resemble ringlets. They are airy, light, and feel more delicate than a close-lying coat. The fact that the Selkirk Rex can have long hair differentiates the breed from the curly-haired Cornish Rex, too. 

The Selkirk Rex is the newest breed of Rex cat that has the curly-haired gene.

Life expectancy 

When properly cared for, Selkirk Rexes can live a long and happy life. With the right diet, exercise, and regular vet check-ups, a Selkirk Rex can live 10 to 15 years by your side. 

History of the Selkirk Rex

cream tabby Selkirk Rex

The Selkirk Rex was first identified in the United States in the late 1980s. Jeri Newman, who bred Persian cats in Montana, discovered a curly, fluffy kitten born from a feral mother in a nearby shelter. 

This kitten resembled a child’s stuffed toy and was just as soft as one. Jeri named her Miss DePesto after her extreme pestering for attention. When Miss DePesto was old enough, she was bred to one of Jeri’s black Persians. Out of six kittens, three of them had curly coats similar to Miss DePesto’s.

This litter also included a straight-haired kitten with a long coat, which meant that Miss DePesto had the recessive gene for long coats. Jeri then named the cat after her stepfather. The Selkirk Rex is the only cat named after a single person.  

Selkirk Rex cat characteristics

cream long-haired Selkirk Rex kitten

While the Selkirk has several features that stand out, you really can’t get past their adorable coats. When they have long hair, their coats are as wooly as sheep; with short hair, they’re as soft and sweet as a lamb. Even their whiskers can be curly!

As mentioned earlier, Selkirk Rex litters can have both curly-coated and straight-haired kittens. Interestingly, those with curly coats lose their curls in the first months after birth. But at 8 to 10 months old, their curls return and increase in curliness until 2 years of age.

The longer their coats are, the curlier the hair. You can see more defined curls in longer-haired cats, whereas short coats on a Selkirk end up looking wispy and loose.

Because they were eventually bred with Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, and British Shorthairs, Selkirk Rexes have snubbed noses and large circular eyes. They are heavy-boned and muscular, but they likely won’t show off how strong they are. Selkirk Rexes aren’t likely to play parkour around the house—they much prefer a lap to sit on.

Personality and behavior

orange tabby Selkirk Rex kitten

Selkirk Rexes are famous for their companionship (and attracting the adoration of strangers). They love to be near their humans and want nothing more than a cuddle whenever they can get one. They are known to be people-oriented and will warm up nicely to new people.

These cats don’t like being alone for long, so having other people or animals in the house gives them comfort. They might not spend every waking moment next to another individual, but their presence in the room is usually enough to satisfy the Selkirk Rex. 

Patience is key

Due to their mellow nature, Selkirk Rexes make great family pets. They can do well with other pets in the home, as well as children, but it’s important to make proper and supervised introductions when bringing a new family member into the house. Your Selkirk will be very patient with a new member as long as they are respectful of them!

While your Selkirk Rex will enjoy a good game every now and then, they aren’t the type to beg for your attention or throw toys at your feet. They are very laid-back and don’t require a lot of exercise. If you’re looking for a cat that likes to lounge and have a nice relaxing night in (every night), the Selkirk Rex is calling your name.

Caring for a Selkirk Rex cat

grey and white long-haired Selkirk Rex cat

You might guess that a lot of the care that goes into the Selkirk Rex revolves around their hair, and you’d be right! Although Selkirks don’t tend to shed a lot, their loose hair can become trapped in the coat and lead to matting.

Your Selkirk’s coat is fine and susceptible to capturing debris, so ensuring that their litter box is clean is key. With a self-cleaning litter box like Litter-Robot, you don’t have to worry about any mess getting stuck to your beloved cat’s fur.

How to groom a Selkirk cat

Use a wide-toothed comb on your Selkirk Rex so that you don’t pull out too much hair or de-curl their hair. If you bathe your Selkirk Rex, use lightweight (and of course pet-safe) shampoos that don’t weigh down the curls. 

Add in a regular teeth-cleaning regimen and nail trimmings to round out their grooming care. 

Health-related issues

Unfortunately, due to their outcrossings with other purebred cats, the Selkirk Rex is prone to a few different genetic conditions.

Your Selkirk Rex might develop the following: hip dysplasia, when the ball and socket in a cat’s hip is loose, causing discomfort and making it difficult to walk; polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is common in Persian cats and occurs when cysts form on the kidneys, leading to kidney failure; and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), when the heart muscle thickens and makes it more difficult for cats to breathe properly. 

Regular veterinary check-ups and keeping an eye out on your Selkirk for behaviorial changes is essential.

Welcoming your Selkirk Rex

Adopting a Selkirk Rex might be one of the best things that you can do for yourself. These loving companions make every day better simply by showing up and being your biggest fan. They are a laid-back breed that is happy to be part of your family. 

If you are looking for a mellow, loving, and dependable cat, the Selkirk Rex checks each box, and more!

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