Cat breeds come and go according to the whims of fashion. Instead of a catwalk, cat shows determine the fashion of new cat breeds. In the 1980s and 1990s, the fashion was for bald cats. After the turn of the millennium, the fashion is for dwarf cats. The Skookum is one such dwarf cat based on the first recognized dwarf cat breed, the Munchkin.
Dwarf cats are normal sized cats except for their legs. This gives them a Dachshund-like visual appeal. Dwarf cats have become so popular that there is now a Dwarf Cat Association. Skookums are one of eleven dwarf cat breeds. However, Skookums are not yet recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA.) TICA still classified Skokums as “experimental” meaning there is not a broad enough genetic base or number of cats to be considered a proper breed. TICA may also ask for the breed to change its name to Munchkin LaPerm or a comedic combination of those two names.
In the 1990s, cat breeder Roy Galush got the bright idea of crossing Munchkins with LaPerms. LaPerms are another rare and therefore incredibly expensive American cat breed created from one mutated female kitten born in 1982. LaPerms get their name from what their fur looks like, which is a slightly more frazzled kinked coat than a Devon Rex. Other websites claim the breeding was accidental. Well, cats will be cats.
Galush came up with the name Skookum because it is Chinook for “great or mighty.” Galush’s crosses were so promising in that they retained the coveted dwarf legs and frizzy coat that cat breeders in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand began crossing LaPerms with Munchkins.
According to Wikipedia, there have been enough Skookums in Australia to warrant a separate class held for them in Australian cat shows. They are also shown in New Zealand to the point where a New Zealand cat registry, Catz Incorporated recognizes Skookums as a proper breed.
It’s just a matter of time before Skookums begin to be dumped at animal shelters as soon as a more fashionable cat breed comes along.
Unfortunately, there is very little material available about Skookums except for some photographs, a Wikipedia entry and sales pitches on cat breeder websites. There does not seem to be an agreed upon breed standard. The most detailed breed standard can be found at Catz Incorporated’s website.
Even that is skimpy. Skookum cats can come in any color including Siamese points; have dwarf legs and their curly coats can come in long hair or short haired varieties. They also should be friendly and not shy.
Pictures of Cats.org. “Skookum Cat.” http://www.pictures-of-cats.org/skookum-cat.html
Wikipedia. “Skookum Cat.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skookum_(cat)
Catz Incorporated. “Skookum Breed Description.” http://catzinc.org/profiles/skookum/skookum.html
YouTube. “Skookum Kitten.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbB7lPaBQeA