Originally from the UK, the Devon Rex is recognisable from its curly coat and triangle-shaped head.
It evolved as a result of a genetic mutation.
History of the Devon Rex cat
The Devon Rex originates from 1960s England, or more precisely from Devonshire as suggested by its name. The name "rex" is given to curly-haired cats.
In the sixties, Beryl Cox, who was working for the RSCPA, found a wild cat with curly hair in a field behind an abandoned tin mine in Buckfastleigh.
Some time later, out the back of her garden, she discovered that the cat had had kittens with a feamle tortoiseshell cat. Among the litter, just one kitten had a curly coat. She decided to keep the kitten and called it Kirlee.
At the time of this discovery, the Cornish Rex, another curly-haired cat breed, was already around. Beryl Cox, after seeing pictures of the Cornish Rex in the newspaper The Daily Mirror, she contacted breeders to show them Kirlee. Beryl Cox paid them £25 to breed their cats with Kirlee, in the hope that crossing the two breeds would continue Kirlee's line and create a new breed.
Unfortunately, the kittens produced by Kirlee and the Cornish Rex were born with straight coats. Breeders therefore realised that the gene which caused the curly coat differs between the two breeds.
In order to resolve this mutation, they decided to breed Kirlee with his daughters. The breed therefore has a long history of inbreeding.
The Devon Rex has a somewhat peculiar silhouette.
It's a medium-sized and muscular cat. It has a graceful appearance due to its fine bones.
The cat's paws are quite long and fine, and end in oval paw pads. Its torso is large and well-developed, which can give the impression that they are stooping.
The cats' necks are thin and muscly, and their long thin tails are covered with short curly fur.
The Devon Rex's head is small in comparison to its body. It's conical in shape and has prominent cheekbones. When looking at the cat's profile, you can see that the top of its head is flat and it has a rounded forehead. Its nose drops off at a sharp angle from the high forehead.
The Devon Rex's muzzle is short, and its chin is pronounced.
The Devon Rex's ears are probably one of the biggest characteristics of the breed. They are very large and protrude from low down at the back of the head. They are covered in fine fur and are larger at the base. They are rounded at the tips and are covered in fur.
The cats' eyes are very large and open. They are oval-shaped and may be any colour, so long as it compliments the colour of the cat's fur.
The Devon Rex's fur is wavy and dense. It's fairly unruly, and the cat may or may not have an overcoat. The coat is not as neat as that of the Cornish Rex; in fact, it's often compared to a poodle or a sheep's coat. There is only fluffy down on the cat's stomach.
Fun fact: the Devon Rex's hair grows very slowly. As a result, it produces very few allergens compared to other cats. A Devon Rex is therefore the ideal companion for someone who loves cats but is allergic to them.
When fully grown, the Devon Rex weighs 3-5 kilos or 6-11 pounds, and measures around 35cm (13 inches).
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Devon Rexes are recognised in all colours other than amber. To name a few, they can be black and white, brown tabby point, or tortoiseshell.
The Devon Rex is well-known for its playful side, and the cat makes an excellent companion which enjoys the company of other cats. They need a lot of affection and need time and attention devoted to them.
However, as is the case with all breeds of cat, each individual has its own personality traits.
They are also known to enjoy the company of children, and it's not uncommon for some of these cats to learn to walk on a leash.
Health and care
Due to the high instances of inbreeding, the Devon Rex is more vulnerable to certain illnesses than other cats. – namely, myasthenia. This is an auto-immune neuromuscular disease which causes chronic muscle weakness.
The Devon Rex is also prone to feline neonatal isoerythrolysis. The Devon Rex population has two distinct blood groups which aren't compatible if they are mixed by way of reproduction between a mother and her kitten. For the reason, breeders are advised to test the blood group of their cats before any breeding takes place.
The illness causes the destruction of red blood cells in newborns after consuming the antibodies present in a mother's milk. After the first symptoms present themselves, it's essential to stop the kitten being breastfed and consult a vet.
Because of the nature of its coat, the Devon Rex is also vulnerable to skin complaints which can cause itching. They are susceptible to baldness, too.
The Devon Rex doesn't need any special care. A gentle weekly brushing will suffice to keep its coat in good condition.
Special attention must be given to the cat's large ears. They need to be cleaned regularly because dirt can gather in them. Throughout the summer it's advisable to put sunscreen on the cat's ears which have light skin and hair.