Caring for Rexes and Sphynxes – Rex and Sphynx cats are particularly unusual breeds of cat. Neither Rex cats, which have a close-lying curly coat, nor Sphynx cats, which are virtually hairless, are to everyone’s taste.
In fact, some people think that they are so far removed from the conventional idea of the cuddly, furry cat that they look slightly grotesque. They have the distinct advantage, though, of not shedding any hair, which is preferable for people who are allergic to cat hair.
Rex cats have a distinctive, thin curly coat, which requires little grooming. This thin coat means that Rexes lose body heat more easily than other cats and so should be given more fat in their diets.
Rex cats can even have curly whiskers. If Sphynxes have any whiskers, they are usually brittle and broken.
Rex cats are exceptional in that they do not shed their hair, which is the perfect solution if there is someone in the household who is allergic to other types of cat.
Although the Sphynx cat is virtually hairless, its skin is actually covered in a fine down.
Some breeders advise adding a little extra fat to the diet of Rex and Sphynx cats, such as shredded suet, since the additional calories help to produce the extra body heat that is lost through their skin.
The coat of the Cornish and Devon Rex cats – both of which are named after the British county in which they first appeared – is very short, fine, wavy, close-lying and soft. The Devon Rex has a slightly coarser coat than the Cornish Rex.
The coat of a Rex cat should be particularly curly on its back and tail. Some varieties of Rex have a coat that is plain in colour while others, such as the Silver Tabby Devon Rex, have markings that actually accentuate the waves of its coat.
The distinctive curly coat of Rex cats, which led to them being known as poodle cats, is not to everybody’s liking, but they do have the great advantage of needing very little in the way of grooming, and what grooming you can do is very straightforward. The coats of Rex cats should first be combed and brushed gently against the hair in order to remove dead hairs, and then finally brushed in the same direction as the hair.
The Sphynx cat’s most distinctive feature is probably that it has virtually no hair. However, surprisingly, these cats still require daily grooming. As there is no hair to absorb the oil produced by the empty hair follicles, the Sphynx needs to be rubbed daily using a chamois.
Cats have three types of hair in their coat: the topcoat or guard hairs; the bristly awn hairs; and the soft, curly down hairs. In general, the Rex cat has few, if any, guard hairs, just down and awn hairs.
The Cornish Rex cat has very short, curly awn and down hairs, all of a similar length. The Devon Rex has short and curly guard, down and awn hairs. The virtually hairless Sphynx has no guard or awn hairs, but a few down hairs on its face, tail and legs.