Nicknamed the “Pixie cat,” this mischievous breed has an abundance of energy and possesses doglike qualities.
A curly-coated feral tom and an adopted stray tortoiseshell were the founders of this highly specialized breed, which originated in Buckfastleigh, Devon, UK. A litter produced by this unlikely pair included a curly-coated kitten, which was used in the first program to develop the breed.
To begin with, it was assumed that this new Devonian line could be crossed with the Cornish Rex, another wavy-coated breed discovered a short distance away and a few years earlier. When only normal-coated kittens resulted from the matings, it was realized that two different recessive genes, arising in surprisingly close geographical proximity, had produced slightly different rexed coats.
The coat of the Devon Rex is fine and very short, with few guard hairs. Ideally, the waves should be loose and distributed evenly over the body, but the degree of wave or curl varies from cat to cat and may alter with seasonal shedding of hair or as a cat matures.
The whiskers are crinkly and tend to be brittle, breaking off before reaching full length. Because of their thin coats, these cats can seem warmer to the touch than most breeds, but they easily become chilled and need draft-proof accommodation.
A Devon Rex’s coat usually needs little more than a wipe-down to keep it in good condition; these cats will also tolerate gentle bathing, provided they are introduced to water when they are young kittens.
Despite its slender, leggy appearance, the Devon Rex is far from fragile, and it possesses boundless energy for playing games and scaling heights. This cat adores attention and is not suitable for a family that will be away from the home all day.
Although the curly coat of one breed of Rex cat can be much like that of another, the gene mutation that produces it is different in each breed. Recessive genes need to be inherited from both parents for it to be expressed in the kittens, whereas a dominant gene only needs to be inherited from one of them.
Despite the geographically close origin of the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex, their coats are the result of a mutation in different recessive genes. For example, the Cornish Rex gene mutation affects the shape of the hair follicle, making it oval rather than round, resulting in curly hair.
Origin: UK, 1960s
Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA
Weight range: 6–9lb (2.5–4kg)
Colors and patterns: All colors, shades, and patterns.