Big Ears, Big Heart and a Big Personality
The Devon Rex has been called many things: a pixie cat, an alien cat, a cat that looks like an elf — or a bat. With its unique appearance, the breed has captured the attention of cat lovers worldwide—and the hearts of its families with its lovable, quirky and mischievous personality.
The Devon Rex is a relatively newer breed of cats, discovered by accident in the region of Devonshire, England, in 1960.
When a curly haired kitten was spotted in a litter of kittens living in a tin mine that was no longer used, cat fanciers initially thought the kitten was a Cornish Rex.
Beryl Cox, the cat fancier who found the unusual looking kitten, kept a close eye on his new subject and noted that the litter of kittens ultimately produced by the cat and a calico resulted in one kitten with the same curly hair. Curly hair in cats is a recessive gene; for the offspring—named Kirlee— to be born with the unusual curly coat meant both parents had to have the recessive gene as well, which could also mean the parents were in fact related.
When Kirlee was cross bred with a Cornish Rex cat, the litter was born with straight hair. This surprised the breeders; further testing revealed that Kirlee was not a Cornish Rex but in fact a breed thus far undetected.
A new breeding program was then established to maintain the lineage of the Devon Rex. All Devon Rex owners should be able to trace their cat’s lineage back to Kirlee.
The Devon Rex is a people pleaser, a breed whose owners have said recognizes not only its name but their names as well.
Preferring a warm lap as a comfy spot on which to rest, the Devon Rex is known to behave more like a dog than a cat, following family members around the house, learning tricks, fetching toys, walking on a leash and showing off a fun-spirited personality. The breed is also highly intelligent and has a very inquisitive nature with a healthy dosage of mischievousness in the mix.
The Devon Rex has an unusual appearance, with its big eyes, large rounded ears and small triangular heads.
Often called “pixie cats” or “alien cats” due to its appearance, the Devon Rex is known for its unique elfin like features. The unusual curl in the Devon Rex’s soft fur is a result of a gene mutation that occurs in kittens with two recessive genes. Those born with just one recessive Devon Rex gene will have straight hair. Those born with curly fur also have short whiskers that curl close to its face, underneath an upturned nose.
The Devon Rex also has large toes, which perhaps go in tandem with their long legs which enable them to leap to high perches.
The breed has a large variety of fur colors and patterns, including white, calico, silver, black, black and white, tortoiseshell, harlequin and smoke.
Despite popular belief, the Devon Rex’s fur is not hypoallergenic. While those born with curly fur may shed less than the average cat, it should be recognized that no one cat (or dog) is truly capable of being hypoallergenic.
The difference between coats from one cat breed to the next is the amount of dander (dead skin) and fur it tends to shed. Allergic reactions to cats are due mainly allergens (proteins) found in saliva and to a lesser extent dander or the urine of cats.
Since the Devon Rex tends to groom as often if not more than the average cat breed, it can still produce the protein that causes a reaction in people who are allergic to cats.
While these may be common medical conditions, your Devon Rex will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.
- Congenital hypotrichosis is a loss of hair. There is speculation some Devon Rex cats inherit this condition as a monogenic recessive trait.
- Devon Rex Myopathy, also known as spasticity, is an inherited disease diagnosed in devon rex kittens between the three weeks to six months of age, that produces muscle weakness commonly in the head and neck muscles and often in the shoulders blades. Affected kittens will typically have a high-stepping forelimb gait with a bobbing head and begin to show signs of tiring easily. At this time, there is no treatment.
- Hemophilia has been noted in some Devon Rex cats with Blood Type B, although strides have been taken by breeders in recent years to prevent inbreeding and reduce the occurrence of this condition in the lineage. Devon Rex cat owners should have their cat’s blood tested to determine its blood type in case surgery is necessary during its lifetime. A blood transfusion of the wrong blood type can be fatal.
- Malassezia pachydermatitis is a single celled yeast commonly found on the skin of Devon Rex cats causing ear infections, seborrhea, erythema and pruritis. This can also cause nail discoloration. Treatment includes antifungal medications.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.