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As Ears Go By, New Breed of Cat Should Be Heard From

July 06, 1986|Herbert J. Vida

One of these days, says Grace Ruga, 25, of Buena Park, the descendants of her black stray with the curled-up ears will be recognized as an important breed of cat. And to think it all started in 1970 when the mother cat was dumped on her doorstep.

"I took a look at its ears and knew there was something really different about the cat," she said. "We started mating it and most of the kittens came out with curled ears so we decided to make it a breed." She and husband Joe Ruga, 29, a Troy High School graduate, named it the American Curl.

The cat's main feature is its ears, which fold backwards instead of coming to a point, the reason for the name. The cats weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, have walnut-shaped eyes and a coat that doesn't shed much. "Breeders like that," she said.

"It's nice to develop something new in this country that was developed in Southern California," said Grace Ruga, an Orange High School graduate. Although some of the cats are selling upwards of $800, "money wasn't our original goal," she said. "We wanted ordinary people like ourselves to be able to have a cat like this and show them." (Ten American Curls are entered in the International Cat Show July 26 and 27 at the Anaheim Convention Center.)

But that's not to say the American Curl won't be a moneymaker for them. "I'm sure the breed will pay off in the long run," said Joe Ruga, "but it's going to take time to establish the breed."

Although the original cats may have dubious backgrounds and be a conglomeration of all cats, "once you see a curl," she said, "you will no longer say they are simple. God created the cats, and we're just the press agents for them."

The Rugas appear to have done a pretty good job, according to Tom Dent, executive director of American Cat Fanciers Inc. of Ocean, N.J., perhaps the country's largest cat registry.

"We started registering the American Curl in February, making it the 32nd breed we register," he said, noting that the cat's background is not important in establishing a breed. "What that means is we have agreed to maintain records on the breed."

While the Rugas find joy in seeing the cat accepted for registration after working for five years to authenticate the breed, they are also aware that the American Curl has a relative, so to speak, called the Scottish Fold. Its ears fold forward.

It's not so much that Tanya Prescott, 39, of Laguna Hills is a registered nurse. Or that she just passed the bar exam. Or that she's ready to get her pilot's license. Or that she's run 32 marathons. Or that she's run the Boston Marathon seven times. Or that she once won the Santa Monica Marathon. Or that she'll run the August Santa Monica Marathon. Or that she's finished five triathlons. Or that she has four children. Or that she has a real estate license. Or. . . .

Sports car rallies show the value of teamwork between driver and navigator as Christina Hesser, 15, of Huntington Beach learned after she and driver Steve Brown won top honors in a recent rally.

Christina navigated the 106.04-mile course within two minutes of a prescribed time of 3 hours and 56 minutes. And that's not bad considering that she's blind. She read her instructions in Braille for the Braille Institute Sports Car Rallye. "The real competition," said Don Hume, the event master, "was in how well the blind navigators read and interpreted the Braille instructions."

With book fines doubling to 10 cents a day last Tuesday, Anaheim Public Library offered an amnesty on overdue books during the days leading up to the new rate, and it appears to have paid off, according to circulation manager Margaret-Rose Prete.

In the central library alone, she said, 1,500 items were returned. These included 41 items that had been overdue since 1982 or earlier.

The longest overdue book had been gone since 1973.

Mecca Carpenter, who picks titles for programs at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, has a special knack. For instance, her title for the hospital's July 24 earthquake preparedness class is "You're Standing on Shaky Ground."

Acknowledgments--Margaret A. Holub, 28, of Tustin, a Foothill High School graduate who once lived on Skid Row in Los Angeles to learn about the homeless, was ordained a rabbi in New York in the Jewish reformed movement. She plans to help the homeless through work with Legal Aid of Los Angeles.

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