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Cornish Rex

 

Introduction

This extrovert breed of British origin is a medium sized bundle of mischief of 'foreign' type, and can have any recognised coat colour or pattern. Cornish Rex make wonderful pets, very entertaining and with loyal, almost dog-like tendencies as they follow their owners about. Despite their fine coats which hardly shed at all, Cornish Rex are still not considered suitable for people with allergies to cats, as the allergic reaction is to a glycol-protein found in the skin, saliva and urine rather than in the hair itself. Using the term 'Rex' to describe a coat that does not conform to the norm is said to have originated when the Belgian King Albert I (1875-1934) entered some unusual curly-coated rabbits in a show, and rather than offend him, the judges wrote 'Rex' (the Latin word for King) next to their names to explain the results!

 

Appearance

The Cornish Rex is instantly recognisable by its cheeky expression resulting from the curly coat and whiskers, and huge ears (often described as resembling mussel shells!) set high on a medium wedge head with high cheekbones. They have particularly long legs, which make them almost look as if they are standing on tiptoe, a long almost string-like tail, and a coat (which can be any recognised colour or pattern, including bicoloured and pointed) without any guard hairs, that feels like crushed velvet to the touch. The coat can take as long as three years to mature fully. Another distinguishing feature of this breed is their long toes, enabling them to use their paws like hands, which they often do to very good effect when they want something! Eyes are medium-size and oval-shaped, and can be any recognised colour, usually linked the coat colour and pattern.

 

History

The Cornish Rex can be traced back to the birth of one special kitten in Cornwall, and makes a fascinating story. A Mrs Nina Ennismore living on Bodmin Moor had a tortie and white domestic shorthaired (non-pedigree) cat called Serena, who gave birth to a litter of five kittens in 1950, one of which had a curly coat, with whiskers that looked like coiled watch springs, whereas the other four kittens had normal short coats as expected. She realised she had something rather special and this kitten stayed and was named Kallibunker, becoming the first ever Cornish Rex. There was uncertainty as to who the father was, and certainly no other curly coated cats had been sighted in the area, but it is thought to have been Serena's red-tabby litter brother. It has since been discovered that the gene for Cornish Rex is inherited recessively, with the likelihood increasing when two closely-related cats are bred together, although there is also a theory that the mutation for Cornish Rex may have been caused by radiation from the local tin mines. Mrs Ennismore decided to try and establish a new Rex breed as a result of the appearance of Kallibunker but because the gene pool was so restricted, the programme had limited success as the inbreeding caused many health-related problems. However, before she gave up on this, she exported a blue female Rex (already pregnant to her sire) who was used to establish this new breed in the USA. In the meantime, a son of Kallibunker (by now the only fertile Cornish Rex male) was used to start a new breeding programme by a small group of UK breeders in 1959, and by using domestic shorthair females, the Cornish Rex was finally established in 1960 by mating the resulting variant offspring to each other. The breed finally achieved full recognition in Britain in 1965.

 

Health

The Cornish Rex is not known to have any breed-specific health problems and many live to a very good age in the mid-teens. As with all other breeds, they need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors. Teeth should be checked regularly, especially as the cat gets older, as the Cornish Rex is more prone to dental disease than some other breeds. It can also be prone to kidney problems in later maturity.

 

Care

This breed will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese, but not too many extra treats! Because of their active lifestyle, Cornish Rex cats are inclined to enjoy their food and often have voracious appetites. It is generally reckoned that they need about 70- 90 calories of food to every Kg of bodyweight per day, and care should be taken that they do not become overweight. Cows' milk may give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. The coat is easy to care for, and may be enhanced by brushing with a very soft-bristle brush, which the Cornish Rex will probably treat as a game, and firm stroking will help to emphasise the waves of the coat. The Cornish Rex is more prone to the build-up of earwax than many other breeds, and this should be checked regularly and gently cleaned with a damp cloth if necessary. With such a sparse covering of fur, the coat may become a little greasy, but this can always be helped by giving the cat a bran bath, heating the bran gently in the oven first.

 

Temperament

Cornish Rex cats are extremely intelligent, never missing what's going on, and make very affectionate companions. They are always on the move, only stopping to sleep when they are totally worn out by their antics (which can take a very long time!) or when their human companions are out. They are full of fun right into mature adulthood, and seem almost airborne at times, loving to jump round the furniture and other parts of their domestic obstacle course. They are very demanding and strong-willed, and need almost constant entertaining, but are also happy to play with other pets and are good playmates for slightly older children. They have a very tolerant nature and it's rare to come across an irritable Cornish Rex.

 

Devon Rex

 

Introduction

The Devon Rex is sometimes referred to as the 'ET' of the cat world with its large almost saucer-like eyes and huge ears, and sometimes as the 'poodle cat' because of its curly coat with a slightly wiry texture. They share many of the same characteristic traits as their Cornish Rex relations, including their intelligence and need to know exactly what's going on. They have long toes enabling them to use their paws like hands, which is often put to good use by completing their circuit round the room far more quickly! They make wonderful pets and love to share every aspect of their owners' lives, but are probably not for the faint-hearted as they can be very demanding and attention-seeking. Like the Cornish Rex, the Devons are not considered suitable for people with allergies to cats, because of the allergic reaction to the glycol-protein found in the skin, saliva and urine. Using the term 'Rex' to describe a coat that does not conform to the norm is said to have originated when the Belgian King Albert I (1875-1934) entered some unusual curly-coated rabbits in a show, and rather than offend him, the judges wrote 'Rex' (the Latin word for King) next to their names to explain the results!

 

Appearance

The coat of the Devon Rex can be any recognized color or pattern, with or without white, and eye color varies according to the coat color. As with other Rex breeds, it's the coat of the Devons that marks the main difference between them and other short coated breeds and as well as being short, soft, dense and luxuriant, there are neat even waves covering their bodies. This breed is very late in developing its full adult coat, and the coat looks at its best between eighteen months and three years old. Some newly born kittens are born almost bald, whilst others are covered in tiny little curls. The ears are large, set low (unlike those of the Cornish Rex which are more upright) and wide apart, and very wide at base, tapering to rounded tips and well covered with fine fur. The tail is long, fine and tapering, covered in very short fur. The eyes are large and wide, set slightly at a slant, giving them a playfully wicked expression.

 

History

The first Devon Rex was accidentally found by a Beryl Cox in a litter of non-pedigree 'normal' coated kittens born near an old tin mine in Devon in 1960, ten years after the first Cornish Rex had appeared. The sire was almost certainly a local black longhaired cat (with 'ringlets' in his tail), and the kitten, named Kirlee, was later shown to be a longhair carrier. Beryl Cox realized how rare this kitten was after reading a newspaper article about a forthcoming cat show, showing a photo of a kitten said to be the only curly-coated kitten in Britain who would be on exhibition at the show. She contacted the breeder of this kitten, and Kirlee was then identified to a wider audience as a rex-coated cat, although it was first assumed that he must be related to the earlier-discovered Cornish Rex. It was agreed that Kirlee could go to one of the early Cornish Rex to help increase the limited gene pool but it wasn't until he was mated with two Cornish Rex variants (Cornish Rex x Domestic Shorthair), and later a purebred Cornish Rex, that it was realized he was something completely different as these matings produced only 'normal', rather than curly, coated offspring. The two Rex varieties were then bred as separate programmes, although due to the very limited gene pool and the reluctance of many breeders to become involved, it became necessary to include Kirlee's 'variant' kittens in the original Devon Rex breeding. There is therefore a considerable amount of Cornish Rex ancestry in modern Devon Rex pedigrees, all of which can be linked back to the original Cornish Rex (named Kallibunker), although no other Rex variety has been found to be compatible with the Devon Rex.

 

Health

The Devon Rex is generally a very healthy breed, and the majority live to a good age in the mid-teens. However, right from the beginning of Devon Rex breeding there have been serious health problems including Inherited Myopathy (Spasticity) because of the inbreeding caused by a very restricted gene pool, as all Devon Rex are descended from the original Kirlee. A reputable breeder will be very aware of any problems in their line, and will not sell a kitten known to have such health problems. As with all other breeds, they need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukemia if they go outdoors.

 

Care

This breed will eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of cooked chicken, ham and grated cheese, but not too many extra treats! Cows' milk may give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. The coat is easy to care for, and may be enhanced by brushing with a very soft-bristle brush, which the cat will probably treat as a game, and firm stroking will also emphasize the coat texture. The Devon Rex is more prone to the build-up of earwax than many other breeds, and this should be checked regularly and gently cleaned with a damp cloth if necessary.

 

Temperament

The Devon Rex certainly lives up to its rather naughty facial expression, and can usually be found looking for mischief unless it's time to have a well-earned breather to restore some energy for another mad rush round the house. They love climbing and jumping, and make very affectionate companions, loving to drape themselves around their owner's shoulders or just generally to snuggle up. They always want to be part of everything that's going on, and are very intelligent with an easy-going nature. They are very demanding and strong-willed, and need a lot of entertaining, but are also happy to play with other pets and are good playmates for slightly older children.