An Introduction to Devon Rex Cats

Devon Rex cats are known for their short, naturally curly coat and very large “elfin” ears. They have been compared with Gremlins from the popular movieâÂ?¦ The cute ones, of course, before the Gremlins went bad. Devons have been also called “poodles that purr” and “dogs in the cat’s body.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Devon Rex Breed History
Devons originated in Devonshire, England, near an old abandoned tin mine. Despite seeming similarities, they are different from and not related to the Cornish Rex breed. In 1959, a stray tortoiseshell cat had given birth to a litter of kittens, one of whom was rather unusual: his short brownish fur was curly. Miss Beryl Cox, the lady who had been taking care of the mother cat, had found the odd mutation attractive and decided to keep the kitten as a pet. The kitten, named Kirlee, was to become the father of the new breed.

At first, Miss Cox had no intention of breeding curly cats, but then she had read an article about someone else doing it: Brian Sterling-Webb, a gentleman who was working on the creation of the Cornish Rex breed. Miss Cox thought Kirlee could help in the process, so she had contacted Brian Sterling-Webb and told him about her cat. Mr. Sterling-Webb was very excited about such a possibility to enlarge the gene pool of the cats he had been working with, so Kirlee went to a new home. However, it had turned out that Kirlee’s curls were caused by a totally different gene than those of the Cornish Rex cats, and the two did not mix: all kittens produced by mating Kirlee with Cornish Rexes were born with straight hair.

After that, it was decided to breed Devon Rexes separately. Since their gene pool was small as well, they were crossbred to British and American Shorthairs, which resulted in a wide variety of colors: Devons now come as black, white, cream, gray, orange, tortoiseshell, calico, and in all possible combinations. The first Devon Rex was imported to the United States in 1968.
Today’s Devons still have the look of their forefather: like Kirlee, they have those incredibly large ears, small “pixie” face, and a strong, lean body. They are medium-sized cats, weighing from six to nine pounds, with males usually heavier than females. The curl varies from soft wave to ringlets, and it can also change during the life of the cat.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Devon Rex Personality and Temperament
Devon Rex personality is a wonderful combination of playfulness and friendliness. They are definitely “people cats” who will do all they can to remain at their owner’s side. These are the two major things you need to know about this breed: Devons are very active and very people-oriented.

Despite their skinny, delicate look, Devon Rexes are no weaklings, they are physically strong and they love using their muscles. I have already mentioned that they are often called “dogs in the cat’s body,” and they deserve such a name: Devons are known to play fetch, of which they never grow tired, and even to wag their tail when happy. However, you don’t have to worry about having a hyper cat that will drive you crazy always running around. With all their energy and agility, Devon Rexes are also very affectionate, and they will happily switch to the calm & purring mode as soon as you pick them up. They love to be held and love to cuddle next to their owner, especially under the blanket.

Devons enjoy interacting with humans, they will try to participate in everything you do. You don’t have to do “cat” activities to get their attention: toys and strings are of course a lot of fun, but watching you wash the dishes is no less fascinating for them, especially if you let them sit on your shoulder. If you don’t think you have enough time for regular fellowship with your Devon, you shouldn’t be getting one. When it comes to fellowship, Devon Rexes can be described as “needy.” Yes, they need you to be there for them, love them, hug them, and talk to them. They also like the company of other cats and, if properly introduced, will get along well with dogs.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Basic Care
Devon Rex cats are a low maintenance breed, they are easy to take care of, but there are a few things to remember.

Feeding
Devon Rexes have good appetite and may become overweight if their food isn’t rationed. Of course, every cat is different, some can be trusted with eating only as much as they need and then leaving that bowl alone, but some can’t. It is always good to monitor the cat’s food intake.

Grooming
Because of their very short fur Devon Rexes do not shed much and require little grooming. A quick shampoo and towel dry is usually enough.

Ears
Many Devons have waxy ears, so weekly checking & cleaning is recommended.

Nails
Need to be occasionally clipped. Pay special attention to nail beds, some Devons may have oil buildup around the base of the claw that will need to be cleaned.�¯�¿�½

Hypoallergenic?
Some think that because of their very short fur and minimal shedding Devon Rex cats are hypoallergenic, i.e. safe to be around for people who are allergic to cats. Generally speaking, that is not true. What most people are allergic to is not the cat’s hair, it’s the dander (dead skin cells) and the saliva. Both elements are present in any cat’s fur, and Devon Rexes are no exception. Their skin cells are being renewed, and they groom themselves by licking. However, their extremely short coat will hold less dander and saliva than that of a regular cat, so some people allergic to cats may be able to tolerate Devon Rexes. It is recommended that those with allergies spend some time visiting breeders and handling the cats to check and see whether the particular breed is safe for them. Never just buy a Devon Rex, or any other breed, assuming that you will be fine.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Getting a Devon Rex
You can find a reputable breeder in your area at www.breedlist.com or in a cat-related magazine like “Cat Fancy.” Devon Rexes are very popular, most breeders have waiting lists, so you should contact them well in advance and be prepared to wait a bit for your curly elf. Prices on Devon Rex cats depend on the type, bloodline, gender, and a few other things like pattern and color. If you don’t want a show quality animal but just a pet, it will cost you less. Also, you can usually get an adult cat cheaper than a kitten, especially if it is a “retired” momma cat that can no longer be used for breeding. Another option is to adopt a Devon Rex cat through special rescue programs. You will still have to pay some fees, but usually not the full price of a purebred Devon.

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