The Devon Rex is a feline breed with a curly, soft, short coat similar to that of the Cornish Rex. However, the coat of the Devon Rex is distinctive in that it has both sets of outer guard hairs as well as the downy undercoat. Its coat is also less twisted and curly than that of cats with the Cornish Rex mutation.
While the coat of the Devon Rex is unique, its head is its most striking characteristic and distinguishes it clearly from its Cornish Rex cousins. The Devon Rex is characterized by a very small head, short muzzle, large widely-set eyes, prominent cheeks, enormously large out-of-proportion bat-like ears and a uniquely exotic, foreign appearance. It is known fondly as "the pixie of the cat world." Its big eyes are slightly oval and slope upward towards the outer lower edges of the ears, which are strikingly large and set fairly low. They may have tufts at the ear tips and/or a patch of fur at their lower outside edges. The Devon Rex has prominent whisker pads. Its whiskers and eyebrows tend to be brittle and can break easily. It has a very slender neck, upholding its most unusual head.
Not only is the head type of the Devon Rex strikingly different from that of the Cornish Rex or any other cat, but its body and coat are also quite different. The Devon has an unusually broad, muscular body with thick bones and heavy weight for its size. It has little or no tuck-up at the waist. The short coat of the Devon Rex is more relaxed and much less wavy than that of its Cornish Rex cousins and is a bit coarser in texture. Adult males are noticeably larger than females of the breed.
The first reported Devon Rex was discovered about ten years after the first Cornish Rex kitten was identified. The Devon was first recognized in 1959 in the United Kingdom, among a litter of feral kittens born in the county next to that of the home of the recently-recognized Cornish Rex. Miss Cox, a woman living in Devonshire, had seen a large, wavy-haired feral tom cat near her home. He apparently mated with her normal-coated, straight-haired female, and one of the resulting kittens had a remarkable curly coat resembling that of his father. The Cornish Rex had recently been recognized and was increasing in popularity in Great Britain. Miss Cox suspected that her curly-coated kitten was somehow related to the Cornish Rex. However, when this curly kitten, who she named Kirlee, was cross-mated with some Cornish Rex females, no wavy kittens were produced. This confirmed that the Devon Rex was genetically distinct from the Cornish Rex.
Like the Cornish Rex, the closely related Devon Rex is prone to familial hypotrichosis and a form of dermatitis caused by Malassezia, which is a yeast microorganism. They may have an increased risk of developing a hereditary blood-clotting abnormality called vitamin K-dependent coagulopathy, although this is not common. Patellar luxation and umbilical hernias have also been reported in this breed. Some queens molt ("blow their coats") during the breeding season and/or during pregnancy. The Devon Rex can be prone to obesity, which of course is unhealthy and also spoils their classic tubular shape. Males of the blue-cream smoke color variation are uncommon and almost always are sterile. Intact males of this breed tend to develop a greasy coat condition called "stud tail.
The Devon Rex is an extremely intelligent cat that makes a lively, affectionate companion. They are very creative and are known to invent clever games on their own, to be shared with their human and other household companions whenever anyone will play. Anything that can be picked up or moved becomes a toy or a target to a Devon Rex. They are highly people-oriented and bond very strongly with their owners. For that reason, ownership of a Devon Rex should be considered a lifelong commitment. They give, and expect to receive, a great deal of devotion, attention and affection. The Devon Rex is not well-equipped to survive outdoors due to its short hair coat. These cats should be kept exclusively indoors.
This is an extremely lively feline breed, with a tendency to being mischievous but not unkind or aggressive. While they are perfectly content to sit on laps or pillows for long hours on end, they are much more likely to be seeking something to play with and to engage their owners with their amusing antics. The Devon Rex can be demanding, as it constantly craves human attention. It will follow its owner everywhere, frequently sitting on his or her shoulders, and will comment upon or play with whatever comes up. They are highly athletic and agile and can be found atop fireplaces and other high-up areas inside their household environments.
Most cats "wag" their tails from side to side as a sign of displeasure or disapproval. However, the Devon Rex tends to wag its tail when it is happy and content. This breed characteristic, together with its unusual curly coat and inquisitive, devoted, dog-like personality, has given the breed the nick-name of "poodle-cats." These are heat-seekers and are often found on top of televisions, computer monitors and heater vents. They also commonly are found deep under the covers of their owner's bed, making an especially good foot-warmer on chilly nights. If tasty snacks are left about the kitchen, owners of the Devon Rex should be prepared to find hind feet and a tail protruding from the bag or other container of food, with their cat contentedly grazing on the contents inside.
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