The poodle cat — also known as the Selkirk Rex — is a breed of curly haired cat that was only recently recognized as a distinct breed. The breed seems to have emerged only very recently — as the result of a mutation seem in a cat born in Montana in 1987. That single cat — born to a feral cat in an animal shelter — is the ancestor of all Selkirk Rex’s currently in the world.
The breed currently contains two different coat length types — long and short. It’s a relatively large breed of cat, with a solid build. The coat of fur is soft, and looks rather a bit like a lamb’s — woolly looking and feeling, with loose ‘random’ curls.
According to recent work done by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine – Vienna, the breed arose entirely from a single spontaneous genetic mutation, and is a dominant trait. And in contrast to other related breeds, such as the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex — which are also curly haired, but carry recessive genes — the Selkirk Rex has a considerably thicker coat, as a result of possessing a coat with a full three layers.
Some background on the genetics via Wikipedia: “Selkirk gene (Se) acts as an incomplete dominant; incompletely dominant, allele pairs produce three possible genotypes and phenotypes: heterozygous cats (Sese) may have a fuller coat that is preferred in the show ring, while homozygous cats (SeSe) may have a tighter curl and less coat volume.”
As the Huffington Post makes note of — with its thick, dense, curly coat it’s easy to see why the breed is often referred to as the “cat in sheep’s clothing,” or alternately, the poodle cat.