The Devon Rex is one of the most distinctive of all breeds, due to its pixie-like appearance. First recorded in the English county of Devon in 1960, it has built up an international following, particularly among exhibitors, although these cats also make great companions. They are often likened to a dog more than a cat, in terms of their behaviour, flicking their tails from side to side when they are content rather than when they are angry.
The Devon Rex has a distinctive head shape, with its ears being large and low-set. Another characteristic feature is the prominent whisker pads, although the whiskers themselves are often rather short.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1960s
- COUNTRY: United Kingdom
- TYPE: Shorthair
- BODY SHAPE: Slender, muscular
- WEIGHS UP TO: 12 pounds (5.5kg)
- PLUS POINTS: Playful nature; easy to groom
- WATCH POINTS: Susceptible to the cold
The high level of interest among exhibitors has helped to trigger the development of this breed in a very wide range of colour and varieties. There is a crucial difference between the structure of the coat of the Devon and that of its Cornish neighbour. The Devon Rex retains both the undercoat and the longer guard and awn hairs, although these are structurally weaker than normal. As a result, particularly where hairs are exposed, such as the whiskers, the hairs are more fragile and will break easily. This is why the whiskers of Devon Rexes often appear to be shorter than normal. Grooming must therefore be done very carefully, not with a brush orcomb, but with a mitt or chamois leather, to prevent damage to the coat. Even repeated licking of areas of its coat can cause a Devon Rex to develop bald patches, so that flea bites can be very serious because of the skin irritation which they cause.
The fur is shorter than normal, which means that the distinctive patterning can be seen without difficulty in the case of the Silver Tabby, particularly on the tail. The M-shaped tabby markings are also very apparent on the head, extending down between the large ears, which should be tufted, like those of the wild Lynx, for show purposes. The contrast in the coat is due to the dense black markings on the silvery ground colour.
- People who are allergic to cats may not develop the typical symptoms of a runny nose and eyes when in contact with a Devon Rex, because these cats moult less than normal.
- Few breeds are more talented when it comes to climbing than the Devon Rex.
The first known example of this breed was a feral tom, who lived near an abandoned tin mine. It never proved possible to catch him, but The mated with a domestic cat in the area and so the first Devon Rex kitten, Kirlee, was born.