Cornish Rex Cats

The "Greyhound" of Cats

Ever seen a cat gallop?

The Cornish rex cat — a mischievous, playful and adventurous breed, is well known for its strikingly sleek, hairless appearance and its tendency to gallop much like a Greyhound dog.

A relatively new cat breed, the Cornish rex originated as a genetic mutation but went on to become an established breed and a popular family companion.

Cornish Rex cat

A mutated litter of kittens born in 1950 on a United Kingdom farm became known as the Cornish Rex. "Cornish" was derived from the Cornwall farm and "rex" due to the kittens' unusual fur, which consisted only of fine down fur, otherwise known as a cat's undercoat.

One of the offspring was later bred with a Siamese cat in the United States. The resulting Cornish rex's long, whip-like tail and big ears are attributed to Siamese cat characteristics.

The Cornish rex is a very playful cat that possesses kittenish traits throughout its lifetime.

This is a cat that likes a great deal of interaction from its owners. The Cornish rex is known for its intelligence and likes to fetch balls and toys, enjoys the company of other pets, and is typically not a couch potato. The breed has a reputation for racing about, often performing acrobatics when very excited.

The Cornish rex is an adventurous breed, often finding unusual nooks and crannies to explore, such as the washing machine or refrigerator. It is easily adaptable to new situations and is known to get along well with shy or timid children.

Cornish Rex cat

The most notable feature about the Cornish rex is its fur coat. Unlike most cat breeds, the Cornish rex does not have the typical three-layer coat, which consists of the outer fur, the middle layer called "awn hair", and the undercoat.

The Cornish rex's undercoat — considered the softest of any cat breed — may sometimes be curly. The cat's coat may be in one of a variety of colors, including white, black, chocolate, orange, blue, lilac and cream. A Cornish rex may also have a classic tabby color, as well as the bicolor "tuxedo" coat in various colors.

Despite the assumption that the Cornish rex's lack of hair makes the cat breed hypoallergenic, this is not necessarily true. 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 Cornish 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.

Cornish Rex cat

It is very important the Cornish rex owners take great care to keep their cats indoors. Due to their unusual fur coat, the breed is highly susceptible to hypothermia if left outside in chilly or wet temperatures, and may also overheat if left in warmer temperatures.

A Cornish rex is best suited for indoor living only. Their body temperature is slightly higher than a typical cat's, and you might notice that they tend to nap under desk lamps or another warm source (including your lap).

Some Cornish rexes may also have an unusual odor that most compare to cheese; this is attributed to the breed's scent glands in its paws.

Due to their activity level, the breed is also known to have a very healthy appetite. Cornish rex owners should be careful not to leave too much food out; this cat will not stop eating until every last crumb is gone.

There are few breed-specific health problems known to the Cornish rex, although this breed, like all others, should be routinely screened during bi-annual veterinary exams for the onset of health issues.

  • Some Cornish rex cats (cats with Type B blood) have serious blood transfusion incompatibilities and will become seriously ill if given Type A blood.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a serious enlargement of the heart muscle that may cause heart failure in cats) has been reported in the breed.

While these may be common medical conditions, your Cornish rex will not necessarily develop those listed. As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.