History of the Devon Rex

Devon Rex kittens Devon Rex cat Devon Rex cat

In 1959 a lady by the name of Miss Beryl Cox was aware of a stray tomcat  to be living in a deserted tin mine near Buckfastleigh in Devon.

This tom had an unusual short curly coat. At this time, Miss Cox happened to take in a straight coated tortoiseshell and white female stray who was pregnant. In September 1959 she delivered 4 kittens at the bottom of Miss Cox's garden, one of which had the same curly coat as she'd observed in the stray tom. She named the male kitten Kirlee and planned to keep him as a pet.

In 1960, Miss Cox read a newspaper article which included a photo of a curly coated Cornish Rex (discovered 10 years previously). The article was for an up and coming cat show and included in the article was a photo of a curly coated kitten by the name Du-Bu Lambtex. It went on to say that she was the only curly coated cat in Britain. Miss Cox wrote to the breeder of the kitten (Agnes Watts) explaining that she too had a curly coated cat. It was presumed that Kirlee carried the same gene as that of the Cornish Rex. Mr Brian Sterling-Webb who had been working on a breeding programme with the "Rex" cat purchased Kirlee from Miss Cox, feeling that Kirlee could be used as an outcross. Much to their surprise when mated with several Rex females all the offspring had straight coats. Repeated attempts to mate Kirlee to Cornish Rex queens continued to produce straight haired offspring and it was concluded that Kirlee's genotype was different to that of the Cornish Rex. The two recessive genes were named: Gene 1 (Cornish Rex) and Gene 2 (Devon Rex.

Work began to establish both the Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex as unique breeds. Kirlee went to live with a member of the Cornish Rex group by the name of Mrs P. Hughes. She mated Kirlee to one of the straight coated females by the name of Broughton Purley Queen. The litter comprised of three kittens, two were straight coated and one female (Broughton Golden Rain) was curly coated like her father. And so the Devon Rex breed began...

All Devon Rexes can trace their ancestry back to Kirlee. Sadly Kirlee was killed in a road accident in 1970.

Appearance of the Devon Rex:

Pixie-like in appearance, the Devon Rex is a small to medium sized cat. Its body is muscular, with hind legs longer than the forelegs.  It has  modified wedge-shaped head with large eyes, broad cheekbones, strong chin and a short muzzle. The ears large and low set.

The coat is short, soft and curly. It contains all three types of hair guard, awn and down. Whiskers and eyebrows are short and crinkled.

Devon Rex temperament:

The Devon rex is an intelligent, mischievous and active breed of cat. While they are a very busy breed they also thrive on human companionship and love to be close to their owners. They enjoy sitting on your lap, snuggling up with you in bed and even riding on your shoulder.

They have been described as a "monkey in cat's clothing".

Devons aren't particularly talkative cats but they do like to chirp.

Devon Rex colours:

Chocolate Smoke

Lilac Mink

Silver tortie tabby and white

Chocolate smoke Devon Rex

Lilac mink Devon Rex Silver tortie tabby and white Devon Rex



The Devon Rex comes in all colours. A few examples of which are...

Blue Bi-Colour

Seal Mink and White

Seal Point

Chocolate point at the back,  Silver Tortie and White, Seal Point and White and Seal Point

Special requirements:

Devon Rexes can produce more ear wax than other breeds which may require cleaning. Their coats are more prone to picking up dirt, so bathing may be needed.

Lifespan of the Devon Rex:

10 - 15 years.

Devon Rexes are suitable for:

Active households. Devons thrive on company and can become destructive if left for long periods on their own. They get along with other family pets including dogs and are great with children. Because of their high activity levels, they are not recommended for people who want a quiet and docile cat.

Are Devon Rexes hypoallergenic?

In truth, a rex cat is no different from any other cat and produces allergen like all other cats. They are not hypoallergenic by any means, as claimed by some. Then why do some people seem to have no allergic reaction to rex cats? There is no simple answer to this question at this time, and more research is required to get the answers needed. One possible hypothesis is that as rex cats have less hair to shed, they simply deposit less allergen-laced hair around the home. But, whatever the reasons some allergic people seem to tolerate them. From personal studies and observations by Margaret Lawrence in the UK, she found that around 10% of people allergic to cats tolerate rex cats. Please, before you race out and look for a rex cat, remember you should always test your allergies by visiting home or catteries that only own rex cats, and test continuously over several weeks or months. As you don't want the poor little kitten to be re-homed if you find out you are allergic to him or her. Don't let your new cat become another statistic at a shelter.

Special thanks to:

Tonia and Nicole of Rextreme Devon Rex for the use of their beautiful Devon Rex photos.

Related articles:

Devon Rex breeders   Cat Breeds List


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