It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a…Devon Rex? In Superman’s big-screen debut, Superman the Movie (1978), the opening scene shows Superman (played by Christopher Reeves) swooping in to save a darling white cat named Pixie from a tree top. It was also the first time that a Devon Rex cat had graced the silver screen, introducing its pixie-like looks to the world.
Title Image Credit: joan!ta via Flickr
Out of This World Looks
The Devon Rex breed has a look all it’s own. This breed’s look have resulted in a number of nicknames for the breed including “the pixie cat”, “the alien cat”, and “the poodle cat.” Devon Rex cats have long necks, large, round wide-set eyes and low-sitting, large, deeply curved ears. They also have an unusual face shape with a short muzzle with large whisker pads and high cheek bones. The whiskers tend to be short and brittle, so extra care needs to be taken when grooming these cats not to break the whisker hairs off.
The signature Devon Rex coat is short and wavy. It lies very close to the body, so you can feel the cat’s body heat when you touch them. Despite its appearance, this coat has all 3 types of hairs found on other cats: guard, awn, and down. The hair does shed, but not in the same way that the hair of other cat breeds shed. At times the coat molts off leaving bald spots and spots that are too short to show the signature waves. When the hair grows back, it becomes wavy again.
Devon Rex History
The first Devon Rex cat appeared in Buckfastleigh, Devonshire, England in 1960. Cat fancier, Miss Beryl Cox, had a female cat that mated with a feral tom that had a wavy coat. When the kittens were born, one of the kittens had elfish looks and the feral cat’s short wavy coat. She instantly fell in love with the kitten and named him Kirlee.
Cox’s kitten was not the first cat with a wavy/curly coat to be identified. A breeder in Cornwall, England had just begun a breeding program for their newly discovered breed – the Cornish Rex. Cox contacted Brian Sterling-Webb, who had been working with the Cornish Rex, to see if Kirlee would be a good addition to their breeding stock.
After a few litters of kittens sired by Kirlee produced only straight-haired kittens, it was determined that the gene producing Kirlee’s wavy coat was not the same gene that was responsible for the Cornish Rex’s curly coat. The Cornish Rex’s curly hair gene became known as Gene Rex 1 and the Devon Rex’s wavy hair gene became known as Gene Rex 2. Gene Rex 2 was found to be a recessive gene. This means that both of a kitten’s parents must have the gene in order for the kitten to have wavy hair. It was also found that Gene Rex 2 causes a cat’s whiskers to be missing or short, brittle, and wavy.
Potential Medical Concerns
The Devon Rex cat breed is generally healthy. They are typically expected to live long, normal lives. However, there are a few medical problems that this breed is prone to having. If you have concerns about your cat’s health (or a cat you are considering bringing into your home), it is important to have the cat evaluated by a licensed veterinarian.
- Slipping Knee Caps
- Hip Dysplasia (abnormally developed hip joints)
- Infected Ears – This can be avoided by cleaning those big ears regularly and often (once per week is recommended).
Information for People With Cat Allergies
Devon Rex cats are not truly hypoallergenic. Their bodies still contain the protein that causes cat allergies in humans (Fel d1) and their hair does indeed shed. However, some people with cat allergies have found living with Devon Rex cats to be more tolerable than other breeds. This may be due to the unusual coat type and shedding pattern. If you are considering bringing a Devon Rex into your home but are concerned about potential allergy problems, please arrange to spend time with one of these cats before taking one home. It is also advised that you wait until 24 hours after your visit to bring the cat home with you to make sure that you won’t have any latent reactions.
Mischievious & Charming Kitty
If there ever was a people-oriented cat breed, the Devon Rex would be it. They are loyal and love to be around their humans. Typically, they will bond to everyone in the family rather than just to one person. These cats are intelligent, curious and will want to be on your or near you no matter what you are doing around the home. They are easy to train and will love to play games with you (Hide and Seek, Tag, Fetch, etc).
It is important that someone is around the home often to give your Devon Rex the attention he/she is craving. If they are left alone too long, these cats may become bored and destructive. They are powerful jumpers and will get into everything around the home! Food should never be left out where a Devon Rex can get it because they are food lovers that will eat it all.
Due to the breed’s extremely playful nature, Devon Rex cats are great with children. They will even snuggle up in beds with kids! These cats also love companions of other species and will become fast friends with other cats, dogs, ferrets, birds and more.
If you are considering adding a Devon Rex to your family, check out the adoptable Devon Rex cats on PetFinder!
Have you ever met a Devon Rex cat?
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