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Breed Spotlight: The Devon Rex

Updated: Apr 22

Devon Rex, 1963

Beryl Cox, a cat fancier in Devon (a ceremonial county in South West England), came across a unique curly-coated kitten in 1960 whom she decided to name Kirlee. Cox believed the cat to be related to the Cornish Rex which led to her breeding Kirlee with Cornish Rexes. All of the subsequent kittens possessed straight-haired coats, which led to the discovery that Kirlee had a different mutation than Cornish Rexes. Following this revelation, Cox began a selective breeding program involving careful linebreeding to try and preserve Kirlee's coat mutation. She was successful, and thus gave rise to the Devon Rex breed that is known and loved around the world today!

The Devon Rex is a short-haired breed with a medium build and a unique head type which gives the breed a 'pixie-like' appearance similar to that of many Asian breeds. The head is short with a broad wedge and the brow curves to a relatively flat skull. The eyes are large, set wide, and oval-shaped. Devon Rexes may have any eye color and any coat color. The ears are large and set wide apart. The coat is short dense and soft and curls slightly inwards giving it a waved or rippled effect. Some areas of the body such as the neck may lack enough fur for the wave/ripple effect. The whiskers and eyebrows are crinkled and twisted. Some individuals may exhibit a slightly longer coat (though never long enough to be considered a longhaired cat) and others may have extremely short hair that grows very close to the skin.

Given that it is such a new breed, it is considered a healthy breed. The health issues associated with the breed are Hereditary Myopathy (effecting respiratory muscles), Atopic Dermatitis (inflammation and irritation of the skin, often referred to as eczema), Congenital Hypotrichosis (a hair follicle deficiency), and Malassezia Dermatitis (yeast on the skin, typically secondary to Atopic Dermatitis). Both forms of Dermatitis, which typically coincide with one another, are relatively simple to treat. The Congenital Hypotrichosis is really only of cosmetic concern and not one that requires any special medical attention, typically just resulting in thinning hair and often associated with advanced age.

Overall, most ailments associated with the Devon Rex are considered minor. The only one that is cause for any real concern is the Hereditary Myopathy (HM). This issue is said to effect approximately 4-6% of Devon Rex kittens and is usually diagnosable between 4-20 weeks of age. This illness can stabilize over time, leading to no future complications. But it can also (as generally the case) lead to larynx issues that may result in death. This is why it is important to acquire your Devon Rex from a reputable breeder who has an in-depth knowledge of their cats' pedigrees and has done whatever health testing is available. This can help ensure that you receive the healthiest possible kitten, with the lowest risk of various health concerns. Alternatively you can look into adopting an adult, which would have been screened for HM.

The Devon Rex is an active, energetic breed. Owners often remark on how they are clownish and always joyful, relishing playtime. They are also generally extremely affectionate, frequently demanding to be pet before running off to entertain themselves and then coming back periodically for more loving.

They are an active breed and are prone to jumping up onto high furniture, so cat trees and wall/window perches should be provided for exercise and enrichment and as a means to discourage climbing up onto furniture you may not want them climbing. The Devon Rex is slightly sensitive to cold and drafts. They appreciate a warm place in the sun and should be provided with areas of warmth in the winter. Some owners even put coats or sweaters on them during the winter.

They are minimal to average shedders and produce minimal dander, but the curly coat helps to decrease the amount of dropped hair. Their coat shouldn't be brushed because their fur is considered relatively fragile. To groom this breed, gently rub their coat with a slightly moist cloth once a week or so. This only takes a couple of minutes. Additionally, a proper bath once every 3-4 weeks can help clean keep the skin clear of excess oils.

They are considered hypoallergenic and most allergy sufferers find that they are unbothered by the Devon Rex!



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