Origin: Devonshire, England
Colour: All colours, patterns and combinations are acceptable in this breed.
Terms that have been used to describe this breed include: friendly, lively, affectionate, playful, intelligent, mischievous, impish, enterprising, active, inquisitive, extrovert.
Domestic Breed: Appeared in 1960 in the county of Devon, England. This was the second form of Rex Cat to be discovered in the West Country, the Cornish Rex having been found in the neighbouring county of Cornwall ten years earlier. The Devon Rex is sometimes referred to as the 'Pixie Cat' because of its strange head shape.
Appearance: A thin-coated, wavy-furred cat with curly whiskers and eyebrows. The hind legs are long, but the front legs are bowed and shorter. The chest is broad. The wedge-shaped head has wide cheeks and huge, low-set ears with small lynx-like tufts at their tips. There is a distinct 'stop' to the nose - giving a dip, or break in the profile of the cat's face.
Unusual Features: Despite their frail appearance, these cats are remarkably healthy and hardy animals. They cannot tolerate cold sleeping conditions because of their thin coat, but when active they will even play in the snow. As a result of their body heat-losses, they have a huge appetite with a high fat requirement.
The coat of this cat is made up largely of down hairs, with a only a few guard hairs, so that what is visible is essentially the cat's undercoat. Some individuals suffer from bare patches.
The Devon Rex coat has two advantages: there are few moulted hairs; and people with cat-hair allergies are far less likely to suffer when they come into close contact with this breed.
History: The first Devon Rex Cat was a stray tom living wild in a disused tin mine near Buckfastleigh in Devon. It was hoped to breed from him, but despite many attempts to catch him, he always eluded capture. However, in 1960 he mated with a stray tortie-and-white female and she produced a litter of kittens. This female had been befriended by a Miss Beryl Cox, who lived near the tin mine, and who had been observing the strange-looking tom for some time. The litter was born in a field at the end of her garden and, taking a close look at them, she was able to see that one of the kittens, a male, had the same curly coat as the wild tom. She took this kitten and reared it carefully in her home. Named 'Kirlee', it was to become the founding father of the Devon Rex breed.
Miss Cox had seen photographs of the Cornish Rex cat, 'Kallibunker', who had been discovered nearby ten years earlier, and contacted the group who were developing that breed, with a view to a mating. They took Kirlee and mated him with several of the female descendants of Kallibunker, but to their astonishment found that all the kittens born from these pairings were straight-haired. Despite repeated attempts, the Cornish X Devon Rex cross did not produce a single curly-haired Rex Cat.
They were forced to the surprising conclusion that, despite the geographical closeness, the wavy-haired gene in the Devon Rex was not the same as the one causing wavy hair in the Cornish Rex breed. The two recessive genes were therefore named: Gene 1. (Cornish) Rex, and Gene 2 (Devon) Rex. (They have been given the gene symbols r and re respectively.)
Because of this difference, the only way to establish the Devon Rex as a distinct breed was to in-breed from Kirlee. A similar in-breeding programme had been successfully employed with Kallibunker. Kirlee was mated with his daughters and before long the Devon Rex Cat was safely established. Kirlee lived a long and productive life, until he was eventually killed in a road accident in 1970.
Personality: Terms that have been used to describe this breed include: friendly, lively, affectionate, playful, intelligent, mischievous, impish, enterprising, active, inquisitive, extrovert.
It has been called 'a feline comedian' and 'a monkey in cat's clothing'. Its climbing abilities are exceptional. One authority referred to it as 'an animal suited to gentle owners'.
Some authors suggest that this breed has several dog-like qualities: it retrieves; it follows its owner; it wags its tail when pleased. The dog-like tail-wagging action would be highly unusual for a cat, but closer examination reveals that it occurred in special circumstances: 'One of his (Kirlee's) favourite tricks was to walk a tight-rope, wagging his tail for approval as he did so.' On another occasion, involving a Devon Rex kitten: 'loud purring and a wagging tail were the prelude to another amorous leap.' Clearly, these were cases of tail-wagging employed for its primary function of keeping the body balanced, rather than as a social signal.
Related Breeds: The Devon Rex is superficially similar to other Rex cats, such as the Cornish and German, and was at first thought to be just another example of the same breed. But once it had been shown that its wavy coat was caused by a different gene, it was clear that it would have to be granted separate breed status.
The Devon Rex was accepted as a separate show breed from 1967, except in the United States where the CFA (Cat Fanciers' Association) only accepted one 'Rex' breed, based on the Cornish Rex standard, until 1979. The fur of the Devon Rex is slightly different from that of the other Rex breeds. Unlike theirs, it contains a few guard hairs among the numerous down hairs, and the Devon Rex coat is slightly harsher to the touch.
GCCF: All colours, patterns and combinations are acceptable in this breed.
CFA: All colours and patterns accepted, but specifically lists the following:
SELF: White; Black, Blue; Red; Cream; Chocolate; Lavender; Cinnamon; Fawn.
SHADED: Shaded Silver; Blue Shaded; Chocolate Shaded; Lavender Shaded; Cameo Shaded; Cinnamon Shaded; Fawn Shaded; Tortie Shaded; Blue-Cream Shaded; Chocolate Tortie Shaded; Cinnamon Tortie Shaded; Lavender-Cream Shaded; Fawn-cream Shaded; Chinchilla.
SMOKE: Black Smoke; Blue Smoke; Red Smoke Cameo; Chocolate Smoke; Lavender Smoke; Cinnamon Smoke; Cream Smoke; Fawn Smoke; Tortie Smoke; Blue-Cream Smoke; Chocolate Tortie Smoke; Lavender-Cream Smoke; Cinnamon Tortie Smoke; Fawn-cream Smoke.
TABBY: (Classic, Mackerel, Spotted and Patched Tabby Patterns) Silver Tabby; Brown Tabby; Red Tabby; Cream Tabby; Chocolate (Chestnut) Tabby; Chocolate Silver Tabby; Cinnamon Tabby; Cinnamon Silver Tabby; Lavender Tabby; Lavender Silver Tabby; Fawn Tabby; Cameo Tabby; Blue Silver Tabby; Cream Silver Tabby; Fawn Silver Tabby.
TORTIE: Tortie; Blue-Cream; Chocolate (Chestnut) Tortie; Cinnamon Tortie; Lavender-cream; Fawn-cream.
CALICO: Calico; Fawn-Cream Calico; Lavender-Cream Calico; Cinnamon-Cream Calico; Van Calico; Fawn-Cream Van Calico; Lavender-Cream Van Calico; Cinnamon-Cream Van Calico; Dilute Calico; Dilute Van Calico.
BI-COLOR: Bi-color; Van Bi-color.
1973. Ashford, A.E. and Pond, G. Rex, Abyssinian and Turkish Cats. Gifford, London.
1974. Lauder, P. The Rex Cat. David and Charles, Newton Abbot.
1982. Urcia, I. All About Rex Cats. TFH, New Jersey.
Devon Rex Breed Club. Publishes a Newsletter. Address: 6251 North Sheridan No. 18, Chicago, Illinois 60660, USA.
Rex Breeders United. Address: 446 Itasca Ct. N.W., Rochester, MN 55901, USA.
Note: There is an additional breed publication: Devon Rex Newsletter. Address: 32 Myer Drive, Ft. Gordon, GA 30905, USA.
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