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Stages of Baldness


Reproduced with permission of Author, A.D. Lawrence from the book:
"The LaPerm Cat: The New Wave in Cats for the Millennium" ©
All Rights Reserved ®: No part of the following can be
copied or used in any manner without consent of the author.

"In the beginning there was baldness. About 90% of all LaPerm kittens were born hairless in the early years. Three to four months after birth we would see a short curly coat. After the introduction of Prancer, a longhaired red classic tabby, we 
continued to get bald kittens whose hair would grow out curly whether long or short. Some kittens were born with straight hair and showed no evidence of curl as they would mature. For about the first 10 years of the breed I knew that a kitten born bald would show a curly coat and a kitten born with straight hair would stay straight haired. And then… along came Snow Fire, a red point male born with straight hair. About the time his hairless littermates started to grow their curly coats Snow Fire began shedding his straight coat until his hair became very sparse. I became very concerned about his hair loss since this had never happened before to one of my straight haired kittens. After a short time I noticed that his hair was beginning to re-grow but it was coming in curly. Even his once straight whiskers curled like his littermates. We have also had straight haired LaPerms that when bred to domestic cats produced curly kittens. These phenomenon are apparently rare but I have heard from other people with breeding cats they have gotten from me who have had the same experience. How or why this occurs is a complete mystery to me.

In the early years, as I was unaware of proper breeding practices and being new to this sort of thing, I allowed all of my cats to run free and breed indiscriminately. Once I became aware that I needed to control the breedings to make certain I knew who the sires of the litters were we began having kittens born who had curly hair at birth. After the proper control of the cats we continued to see the bald kittens although this was now occurring less and less often. About the only time we will see a bald kitten born now is out of a LaPerm to LaPerm breeding. Most of our curly kittens are now born curly. It is to be noted though that many kittens born with the curly hair will loose the coat and go almost totally bald within about 2 months of birth and then the coat will grow back in curly. It should be noted that this process could happen several times during the life of the cat although once the cat is altered the coat is generally stable.

There is possibility that both genetics and hormones play a major part in the strange saga of the LaPerm coat. Most breeding males will lose much of their coats in hot weather, particularly on their underside and around their testicles. The hair always returns curly. A female if not bred by about her third season like many queens of other breeds will lose condition and in this case will also drop most of her coat but it will return, usually curlier than before. A regularly bred female will most often lose the hair around the neck thereby sporting a bald neck. During pregnancy the hair will normally return only to be lost again during the next heat cycle if she is not bred. A spayed female coat will be retained and is often softer in texture than that of a whole female. A neutered male will sometimes blow his coat in hot weather. Because of blood testing by our own animal doc, Diana Scollard, DVM, we know that it is not a thyroid problem. To date all cats tested have been well within normal ranges in their thyroid functions although Dr. Scollard would still like more of us to participate in this study.

Both males and females can exhibit sensitivity to fleas that may cause them to loose their coats. I personally maintain a regular regime of treatment with Front Line, which I have found to be the most successful method of control for me. Oddly it almost seems as if this treatment stimulates the coat and improves its condition.

I have no scientific explanation as to why so many unusual things happen with the coats of our breed. The one thing I am certain of is that having them around is never boring as you try to out-guess what weird thing will happen to the coat next. 
Someday as the breed progresses and more out-crossing is done some of the abnormalities may disappear completely or, conversely more may appear. As breeders we all need to have an ongoing educational program. We each need to 
document everything that happens to the coats on our individual cats and share that information. In so doing perhaps in future years we can say "Yes, I saw that happen in the early days of the breed".

The mysterious LaPerm coat. Is it genetic? Is it hormones? Is it diet? Some breeders are participating in Dr. Leslie Lyons genetic DNA studies on the coat. Our aim is to determine where the gene for the curl lies and if it is a gene totally different from the other Rex mutations or if it is possibly the same gene manifesting in a different manner. One final thing to remember is that one-quarter of the time you are privileged to have one of the ugliest cats on earth and three-quarters of the time you have a unique curly coated companion who is like no other in the world."

-A.D. Lawrence

All Rights Reserved ®: No part of the
above can be copied or used in any manner without consent of the author.  Photos courtesy of AD Lawrence.


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