This inquisitive, athletic cat has a curled coat that extends from the whiskers to the tail, and is a lively and energetic pet.
The founder member of this striking breed was a male cat named Kallibunker, born on a Cornish farm in the UK in 1950. Unlike his siblings, he had the now-classic wavy coat, slim body, long legs, bony face, and large ears.
One theory has it that the wavy coat and other Rex features were a mutation caused by radiation from nearby tin mines. In fact, the mutation is due to a recessive gene. Early breeders used in-breeding to preserve the Cornish Rex features, but this led to health problems in the offspring.
Therefore, Kallibunker’s descendants were crossed with other breeds—including American and British Shorthairs and the Siamese—improving the stamina and genetic diversity of the Cornish Rex and adding a wide variety of colors. With its superfine, rippled coat and streamlined body, this cat stands out from all the rest.
It is an extrovert with a large repertoire of amusing antics and a kittenish outlook on life, but turns into an affectionate lap cat when play is over. Because of its thin coat, the Cornish Rex is vulnerable to temperature extremes and should be groomed with a light touch.
The first Cornish Rex cats bred in the UK were much stockier than those seen today, because the sturdy British Shorthair predominated among other breeds used as outcrosses. When the Cornish Rex appeared in the US, bloodlines from more slender Oriental cats were introduced.
Although British and American versions of the breed are both now slimline, they have developed into two distinct types, distinguished by the more athletic build and “tucked up” waistline of the American cat.
Origin: UK, 1950s
Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA
Weight range: 6–9lb (2.5–4kg)
Colors and patterns: All solid and shaded colors and patterns, including tabby, tortie, colorpoint, and bicolor.