Profile of the Cornish Rex

Cornish Rex cats are BIG personalities. To sum it up, they are permanent kittens that just never seem to grow up. Always playful and seeking out company (both human and feline), a Cornish Rex will certainly keep you entertained and amused with its endearing ways. This boundless energy is fuelled by a very healthy appetite as these cats certainly do appreciate their food.
Mousse Flying
Donillium Moose exploring the living room for the first time

They also appreciate very clean litter trays so prospective owners be warned - no slacking when it comes to litter hygiene. After a hard day playing, climbing the curtains, chewing the houseplants and eating you out of house and home, a Cornish Rex likes nothing better than to have a quick nap on your knee or on a warm fleecy radiator bed. But remember, a snooze only - there are always places to go and things to do!

Kittens one week old
Donillium Kimini's kittens one week old
Cornish Rex are generally healthy cats who suffer from few problems. Their care is essentially the same as other felines but because of their very short coats, they are more susceptible to feeling the cold.

While most are kept as house cats, those given access to the outdoor world prefer to venture out on warm summer days and not during the coldest winter months - their coats offer little protection from the elements. Grooming, other than stroking by hand, is not really necessary for Cornish Rex.

A medium sized cat with a wedge-shaped head; strong chin; ears which are large and set high on the head and eyes which are oval in shape. In profile the nose should form a straight line from the centre of the forehead to the tip of the nose. These features distinguish it from the Devon Rex. The body should be hard and muscular but slender, with long slim legs, and dainty oval paws. The coat of a Cornish Rex does not contain any guard hairs and is consequently extremely soft to the touch.

Donillium Mavros watching new friends
Rexing (curls and waves) should be all over the body giving an overall rippled and plush appearance. Whiskers and eyebrows can be crinkled; quite frequently they are missing, since they are brittle and can easily break or be chewed off. Cornish Rex cats exist in all colours and coat patterns: tabby, self coloured (black, white, blue, red cream etc), bi-colour, pointed, tortoishell to name but a few. Out crossing to other permitted breeds has, over the decades introduced all these colours whilst at the same time helping to ensure the vigour of the breed by bringing in fresh blood to what was otherwise quite a small gene pool.

Xanten & Kimini
Donillium Kimini (left) with her father, Adquash Xanten
More about the Cornish Rex coat:
The rexed coat is an important characteristic and bareness is a fault. That said, Cornish Rex cats do not usually suffer from baldness to any extent although the degree of rexing and length and thickness of the coat varies from one individual to another ranging from loose waves to fine curls to deeply rippled waves.
They are born fully rexed but tend to lose the curls within the first week taking on a velveteen appearance that normally lasts for a few weeks before once again the curls and waves grow in. Kittens can therefore be excused for being somewhat lacking in the coat department on occasion but it should be borne in mind that although a breeder may have a good idea of how a coat is going to develop, it is never a certainty! The full adult coat is normally complete by the time the cat is a year old but again this can vary between individuals and with the seasons. Some Cornish look their best in summer, while others are at their best in winter.

Allergies and Rexes:
Both Cornish & Devon Rexes are often recommended as being suitable for people with allergies. This is not necessarily so. Rex cats may suit some people with allergies if the allergy is to the guard hairs. They will not suit people who are allergic to cat saliva or dander. The only way to find out is to try.
Donillium Dillbert holding court
Find a Rex-only house (we can help) and stay at least 1 hour with Rexes all over you - rub eyes and mouth while there. Go home and see how you are over the next few hours. If no reaction then fine - go ahead. If you had a mild reaction go back and repeat the visit a few days later. A few people with mild allergy take antihistamine when they are bad. Having asthma does not automatically rule out cat ownership but much thought is required. Regular bathing or wiping the cat with damp cloth or hands may also help. Keep your bedroom strictly a cat free zone, at least in the beginning. While any good breeder would take back a cat/kitten of their breeding it is not fair to the cat/kitten to get it and have to return it if it does not work - so be very sure.
Kallibunker Origin and breed development:
In 1950 on a farm near Bodmin in Cornwall, a tortoiseshell cat named Serena gave birth to five kittens. Amongst this otherwise normal litter was a male with a very distinctive curly coat. This cream coloured kitten, named Kallibunker, was the original Cornish Rex and it is his descendants who now grace our homes and are exhibited at cat shows some 50 years on.
In the early years, British Shorthair and Burmese cats were used as out crosses to widen the gene pool and to ensure vigour in the breed. Eventually there were sufficient good quality curly coated cats to allow the Cornish Rex to be formally registered and achieve full breed status in 1967. The gene pool is still small, and many breeders continue to outcross to other breeds (not the Devon Rex which is a different mutation). The first generation kittens from such a mating are 'normal' straight coated cats. This is because the rex gene is recessive to the normal coat gene. These straight coated kittens are known as Cornish Rex variants and they 'carry' the rex gene. When these first generation variants are mated back to a Cornish Rex, half the kittens born will be Cornish Rexes, often with very good coats. It is because of the extensive out crossing that there is such a range of colours and patterns in the Cornish Rex today.
Authors: Bill Lee & Don Dickson, Donillium Cornish Rex. Shorn's Kittens
Conen Valeria's kittens in an unusually well behaved mood

More information:
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