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March 6, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Cornish Rex

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

Cornish Rex

Cornish Rex Stats

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Cat of the Week: The Cornish Rex

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Cornish Rex Cats

Cornish Rex

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Fun Facts About Cornish Rex Cats

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  • Though their extreme appearance may lead some to believe the Cornish Rex resulted from an extensive, regimented breeding program, the unusual fur, head and body shape of this cat actually came from an average, non-pedigree barn cat as the result of random genetic mutation in the 1950’s.
  • The name Cornish Rex refers first to the location the first kitten was born (Cornwall, England) and second, to their unusual wavy hair which is similar to the hair of Rex rabbits. Rex rabbits, in turn, received their breed name when King Albert I of Belgium (1875-1934) entered his unusual curly haired rabbits in a rabbit show. Though they did not meet breed standard, the officials, not wishing to offend him, allowed him to enter regardless, noting “Rex,” which is Latin for “King,” next to the rabbit’s names.
  • Though most cats have three different types of hair - “guard hairs” which range an average of 5 to 10 cm long, “awn hairs” which are a bit shorter than that, and “down hairs” which are very fine and just 1cm long – Cornish Rex cats only have down hair making them extremely soft. This is in contrast to the similar looking Devon Rex cats which actually posses short guard hairs as well as down and are the result of an entirely different genetic mutation.
  • The fur of Cornish Rex cats has been compared to velvet, karakul lamb, rabbit fur, and silk, and in fact, some further assert that the Cornish Rex is the softest of any cat - bar none!
  • In order to maintain their good health, because breeding pools had been so small, Cornish Rex cats were bred with variety of other purebreds up until fairly recently, resulting in a wide range of coat colors and patterns in the breed.
  • Though some people have labeled these cats as being hypoallergenic, this is not actually the case. Because animals that shed a lot will tend aggravate allergies more than a non- or minimally-shedding animal, many people mistakenly think the fur is causing the allergy symptoms when in actuality, it’s the saliva, or more specifically, a protein in the saliva, which is on the fur being spread about. Minimal shedding in this breed will reduce the spread of this allergen in the home, and regular bathing will further reduce your exposure, but that’s about all you can say.

Cornish Rex Cats

Cornish Rex Cat

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How to Spot a Cornish Rex

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Very Short Wavy Hair. They can be black, white, gray, brown, red, and just about any pattern you can dream up including pointed, but if you’re looking at a fluff ball - even the wavy haired sort - you’ve got the wrong cat. Though often described as “curly” the soft downy hair of the Cornish Rex actually falls in very tight waves as opposed to ringlets, very similar actually, to what you might find in the middle of corrugated cardboard. Even their whiskers are curled!

Egg Shaped Head. While, as we discussed earlier, the coat of the Cornish Rex and Devon are slightly different from one another, the easiest way to tell which is which is to look at the shape of the head.

Cornish Rex Cat

Devon Rex

Cornish Rex Head Shape

Devon Rex Head Shape

Small, Egg Shaped

Wedge Shaped

Long  - 3 times longer than it is wide.

Broad - though a little longer than it is broad.

Hollow Cheeks

Full Cheeks

Muzzle slightly narrowing to rounded end

Muzzle short and well developed

Whippet-Like, Delicate Bone Structure.  When the first Cornish Rex kitten was born, not only was his white fur distinct from any of his siblings, he possessed a much more refined looking bone structure. Experts describe the lines of the Cornish Rex as Whippet-like – long, slender, and naturally arched. They are a small cat, and yet if you were to shave most cats (please don’t) - even short haired varieties, - you would probably be surprised by just how much smaller they look. The Cornish Rex is subject to this illusion as well. As VetStreet points out, these active, muscular cats are heavier than they look.

Large Ears and Eyes. The large wide-set ears and eyes which are set high on their comparatively small heads add to the Cornish Rex’s look of almost constant alert.

Cornish Rex Kittens

Cornish Rex Kittens

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What to Expect from a Cornish Rex

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A Constant Companion. Perhaps, as some teasing owners have suggested, without a full coat of hair, the Cornish Rex simply sticks close for warmth, but that’s a little ungenerous. Don’t you think? In all seriousness, Cornish Rex cats are some of the most affectionate of all cat breeds. They’re going to want to stick close to you and be wherever you are.  If you’re looking for a cat that will actually snuggle under the covers with you, this may be your cat.

An Active Cat. Remember the sweet, docile Ragdoll cats that would let you do pretty much whatever you want with them? The Cornish Rex is on the opposite end of this spectrum. These cats may love to cuddle, but if it’s not their idea, they’ll squirm and fidget until they’re free. They need plenty of exercise for their body and mind. If you’re thinking about bringing one of these kitties home, invest in laser pointers and plenty of balls and stuffed mice for them.

An Intelligent Cat. Make that EXTREMELY intelligent. Extremely intelligent, and also a little naughty – the product of a clever cat that also happens to be an expert runner and jumper. Many owners say they’ve taught their Cornish Rex to fetch and receive. (Others realize it’s more the other way round.) These cats know how to get what they want. Protect your food - being social cats they’ll pretend all they want is a lap to sit on only to steal your food and run as soon as you’re not looking!

Cornish Rex Cats

Cornish Rex Cat

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More Cornish Rex Cats!!!

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Cornish Rex Kitten

Cornish Rex Cats

Cornish Rex Kittens

Cornish Rex Cats

SOURCES

VetStreet: Cornish Rex

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: Cornish Rex

The Cat Fanciers Association: Cornish Rex Breed Profile

PHOTO CREDIT

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Crazy Cat Lady@flickr

shinzui@flickr

Mikusagi@flickr

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AZAdam@flickr

Anna-Stina@flickr

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Boska@flickr

Mathias Wiberg@flickr

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2 Comments

  • Weird this kitty sometimes looks more like a puppy to me! But then one of my dogs has big ears! Snuggling under the covers also sounds more like a puppy to me!

  • I can see where you would get that. The big ears and the very short fur do make them look a little like a chihuahua. :)

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