The Selkirk Rex Cat Breed: Facts, Origin and more Details

Wavy and curly hair in many colors makes this cat stand out, but their easy and friendly nature makes them genuinely wonderful pets.

The Selkirk Rex is a medium to a large-sized cat. They can live from 15 to 20 years. 

Selkirk’s lovely wavy and curly fur needs regular combing and grooming. This will prevent mats and knots and also provide a bonding time for you and your cat. 

Selkirk Rex
Selkirk Rex

Quick facts about the Selkirk Rex

Weight: 10 to 15 pounds Height: 9 to 11 inches
Life span: 10 to 15 years
Intelligence: high Temperament: social | affectionate
Playfulness: medium Activity level: calm
Vocalness: infrequent Coat length: short long
Shedding amount: normal
Good with: kids | seniors | dogs | other cats | families
Traits: The Selkirk Rex is a friendly cat that is good with children, other pets, and strangers. It also tolerates being alone for periods of time and has a low prey drive.

Bathing your Selkirk will also be necessary, so any dirt and grease in their hair can be washed out. 

Apart from their hair, Selkirk’s are easy to care for. They aren’t fussy eaters and take to the litter-box once they’re trained to use it.

This breed is incredibly easy-going and will appreciate whatever family dynamic they’re adopted into. All they want is love and attention and a safe space to play. Whether it’s a single life or a part in a bigger pack, this breed is adaptable.

Selkirks aren’t always lazy lap cats and will enjoy plenty of playtime — with humans or other pets. But they’d be good companions for seniors and children because they are so easy-going. 

These cats don’t require much in terms of space. A place to nap, a place to play, and plenty of attention is all they need. 

The Selkirk Rex can fit in with homes and families that have children, seniors, cats, and dogs.

Selkirk Rex

As long as the Selkirk has time with their owner and toys to keep busy and entertained, they’re happy. 

The Selkirk defining trait is easy-going and affectionate. The Selkirk Rex make great first-time pets because they’re so loveable and easy-going. They have curious, playful, and sweet personalities. They love to play games or hang out with their owners. Not only that, but they’re friendly to strangers, pets, and their owners. 

Selkirk’s have a low prey drive but high intelligence and curiosity. They like to keep busy, so if their owner needs to work long hours or socialize, they’re happy to entertain themselves with toys and or watch the world from a window. 

Selkirk’s are considered a healthy cat breed, but they have Persian and British Shorthair genes that can pose a (small) risk for disease and genetic conditions. These conditions include 

  1. (PKD) Polycystic Kidney Disease 
  2. (HCM) Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 
  3. Hip dysplasia 

These conditions are not common for the breed. 

Pro: Easy going and friendly — great first-time pet

Pro: Great companion to seniors, children, families, and singles

Pro: Affectionate and independent 

Con: Regular grooming and bathing 


United States


Dr. Adedapo Adisa:

The Selkirk Rex cat is a native cat to the United States, known for its characteristic curly coats formed from a genetic mutation in the cat breed. 

As the only cat named after an indication, the Selkirk Rex Cats have a significant genetic diversity because of crosses with the Persian cats, Exotic Shorthair, and British Shorthair hair cats breeds. Because of this genetic diversity, the Selkirk Rex Cats have lived averagely between 10-15 years.

Although they are a strong breed, the Selkirk Rex Cats have been found to have a few inherited conditions due to their sizeable genetic pool. These inherited conditions in the Selkirk Rex Cats include Polycystic kidney disease that affects the kidney’s normal functions. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Because of the previous genetic history with the Persian cats, the Selkirk Rex Cats have inherited a medical condition known as polycystic kidney disease(PKD). This condition is characterized by multiple fluid-containing cavities on the kidneys of affected Selkirk Rex Cats from birth.

As the cats continue to mature and age, the fluid-filled pockets or cysts also increase in size and multiplies. This affects the kidneys in the Selkirk Rex Cats and predisposes them to kidney failure.

Selkirk Rex Cats with polycystic kidney disease would show some signs such as 

● Excessive passing out of urine 

● Increased thirst causes a high water intake 

● Uremic breathe may be present (foul-smelling breath).

● Bloody urine.

● Weight loss and vomition

● Fluid can pull together around the abdomen or legs, leading to swelling 

Selkirk Rex Cats that have started showing one or more symptoms of polycystic kidney disease should urgently be taken to the Veterinarian.

The Veterinarian would carry out a couple of tests with good history taking to rule out other conditions and diagnose. 

Selkirk Rex Cats DNA can also be screened to look out for the mutant gene causing polycystic kidney disease and, if present, should be discontinued from breeding programs.

Another inherited health condition, the Selkirk Rex Cats, is a heart condition known as Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

In this condition, the muscular walls of the section of the heart responsible for pumping out blood to the body system (Left ventricle) become thickened due to genetic mutation in the Selkirk Rex Cats. The thickening walls of the ventricles further prevent the ventricles from holding enough blood and pumping out blood adequately.  

Subsequently, other chambers in the heart get affected due to the delay of blood leaving the heart. There is the formation of clots and fluid accumulation in Selkirk Rex Cats’ lungs with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Selkirk Rex Cats with this health condition show one or more of the following signs.

● Increase heart rate and heart rhythm

● Heart sound or murmurs.

● Fluid begins to accumulate in the lungs leading to congestive heart failure

● General weakness and exercise intolerance

Selkirk Rex Cats showing one or more signs should be taken to the Veterinarian immediately for examinations. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Selkirk Rex Cats has no known treatment. Early diagnosis could help with a high chance of survival in the cat breed.

Aside from various tests the vet might run to reach a diagnosis, it is important to always screen the DNA of adult Selkirk Rex Cats for the defective gene causing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

If they are present in the Selkirk Rex cats, then such cats should be discontinued from breeding.

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