Discovered in 1946 in East Germany. Taken up by serious breeders in 1951, following the discovery of the Cornish Rex Cat in England in 1950.
Domestic Breed: Discovered in 1946 (some authors say 1947 or 1948, but the early date seems most likely) in East Germany. Taken up by serious breeders in 1951, following the discovery of the Cornish Rex Cat in England in 1950.
Appearance: Its coat is very similar to that of the Cornish Rex: it has no guard hairs and the awn hairs and undercoat are both unusually short. However, it differs from the Cornish Rex coat in having awn hairs that are a little thicker than those of the undercoat, and this gives it a fuller, woollier look.
History: The first German Rex was a black female feral cat seen wandering in the gardens of the Hufeland Hospital in the Ruins of East Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II. She was rescued by a Dr R. Scheuer-Karpin, who named her 'Lammchen'(= Lambkin). She was found to be carrying the same wavy-hair gene as the Cornish Rex Cats. This was designated GEN 1. Rex. No.33, as distinct from the wavy-hair gene of the Devon Rex Cat, which was designated GEN 2. Rex. No.33a.
Lammchen had many litters and, when she was ten years old, in 1957, she was mated with one of her sons. This mating produced a litter of Rex kittens. During the next few years more German Rex litters were born and eventually, in 1960, two female German Rex Cats, called Marigold and Jet, were taken to the United States for breeding purposes. In 1961 a black male called 'Christopher Columbus' followed them and these three cats, in conjunction with the already imported Cornish Rex Cats, formed the basis of the Rex breed in America.
For many years (until 1979), the American CFA (Cat Fanciers' Association) only recognized one form of Rex Cat - the one forged from crosses between the German and the Cornish - and ignored the other main breed - the Devon Rex.
Since, genetically, the German and Cornish Breeds share the same rex gene and are therefore, in one sense, virtually the same animal, it was only a matter of time before one eclipsed the other. The German breed was still being shown in Germany in the 1980s, and in 1982 some European breeders came to regard it as a separate breed, not because of its rex gene, but because it had a body form that differed from that of the Cornish Rex and was closer to the European Shorthair. Despite this, however, fewer and fewer of them appeared in shows and eventually the line seems to have almost disappeared, while the Cornish has gone from strength to strength.
There is a report of an even earlier example of a German Rex Cat being found, back in the 1930s in East Prussia, but details are scanty. (See Prussian Rex Cat)
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