Like the rex cats with their unusual curled coats which can be traced back to one cat, so the American Curl can be traced back to 1981 when a stray black female kitten, with a long silky coat and rather unusual ears, first appeared in the garden of a couple called Grace and Joe Ruga, who lived in California. The couple fed the new arrival, at first with bowls of food placed outside, and then eventually the kitten decided to move in. Her new owners named her Shulamith, meaning ‘peaceful one’ after the shepherdess in the Biblical Song of Songs. In due course, Shulamith produced a litter of four kittens, two of which had the same curly ears, and the breed was soon recognised, appearing at shows in California (where there is still a predominance of American Curl breeders) in 1983. It was fully recognised in the USA by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 1987 and with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1993. All American Curl cats in the USA today are descended from Shulamith, the original foundation cat of the breed. Although the breed first arrived in the UK in 1995, they are unlikely to be recognised by the GCCF because of the effect of the Curl gene on the ears, which can become very sensitive and need to be handled with extreme care as uncurling them can damage the cartilage, and it is feared that further health problems could emerge.