The Devon Rex cat is easily recognizable having an impish face with big eyes and over-sized ears set low on a, triangular shaped head. It’s short, crinkly coat forms beautiful ripples and waves on the body and, though not hypoallergenic, has a low tendency to shed and is less allergic than many breeds. The adult cat is small to medium in size weighing around 3kg.
This intelligent and affectionate breed has a wide color range of coat from white through to chestnut, lavender and champagne. The broad variety of coat pattern can be a solid color, with or without white markings, tortoiseshell, tabby, bi or tricolor. They also have several distinctive characteristics as follows:
- Short nose
- High cheek bones
- Slender neck
- Small oval-shaped feet
- Large toes
- Long, tapering tail
- Broad chest and well-muscled body
- Short haired with a velvet soft, wavy coat
- Wavy eyebrows and whiskers
- Chirp sound rather than a meow
Devon Rex – Traits
This intelligent and sociable breed loves to play interactive games with their owners and will often ‘fetch’ toys like a dog. Some can be trained to walk to heel or even on a lead with a harness. Such affectionate creatures, they hate to be alone and much prefer interactive games with their owners. Their inquisitive nature leads them to become involved with their human’s tasks such as computer work, preparing meals or reading the newspaper and they will happily perch on their owner’s shoulder to share the activity.
Of course, such a curious nature also means they love to have a high vantage point to observe what is going on and, once chosen, they will leap up to their position on a door frame or sideboard. From this point they will, should the fancy take them, pounce!
This combination of high energy and extrovert personality means they will sometimes perform acrobatics on the curtains and even climb up wallpaper! The Devon Rex needs to be able to run off energy and satiate their curiosity so provide them with plenty of climbing toys and safe ledges.
History of the Devon Rex
The name Devon Rex is derived from the English County of origin, Devonshire, and a reference to the soft texture of the coat being similar to that of the Rex Rabbit. From 1967 to 1984 the Devon and Cornish Rex were considered to be the same breed however, in 1984 the Devon Rex became recognized as a breed in its own right.
When a Devon cat owner’s straight haired, Tortoiseshell gave birth to a litter of kittens, one kitten had the same distinctive brown and black, curly coat as a tom cat from a feral colony living in an old tin mine nearby. This little kitten began the breed now known as the Devon Rex.
The owner, Beryl Cox, named him Kirlee (curly) because of his curly fur and, as he had characteristics similar to the Cornish Rex, thought he could become a part of the Cornish breeding program. This was not to be as it soon became apparent that litters born from crossing the Cornish and Devon Rex always resulted in straight coated kittens. It seemed that although both breeds have a recessive gene causing wavy fur follicles, the gene responsible was different in each breed. The breeders then decided to develop the Devon Rex as a breed in its own right.
If you are thinking about buying a Devon Rex here are some things to take into consideration:
Breeders usually make kittens available between the ages of fourteen to sixteen weeks. This allows the kitten to have received full vaccinations and learned some social skills from its mother and siblings.
They have a life expectancy of around 9 – 15 years but this is dependent on breeding, environment and nutrition.
Although they have a low tendency to shed, like other cat breeds, the Devon Rex will shed in the Spring and in the Autumn.
All cats have three layers of hair; guard hair, awn hair and down hair but, having very little guard hair, the Devon Rex is best kept out of the sun or given a generous covering of specially formulated sun screen.
The Devon Rex is a very sociable breed and is happiest if there is always at least one person at home. They need to be kept occupied as, should they become bored or lonely, they can be destructive. This is a very energetic cat that needs to be able to climb, jump and play.
The adorable looks and cheeky personalities of this breed have resulted in nicknames such as: Pixie Cat, Monkey in a Cat Suit, Alien Cat, Dennis the Menace Cat and Poodle Cat.
Naturally friendly and enjoying human interaction, the Devon Rex craves affection and lots of attention. They will also need a quiet, safe place of their own where they can retreat for a cat nap.
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Things You Should Know
The Devon Rex is susceptible to congenital hypotrichosis or hereditary baldness and also hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or heart disease. Due to the limited gene pool for this breed, they may inherit Devon Rex Myopathy or spasticity. This condition becomes apparent between the first 3 weeks to 6 months of life and presents as muscle weakness and tiredness. At present, there is no treatment available.
When you first bring your pet home, keep to the same feeding schedule given to you by the breeder. Remember that your cat will be coming into a strange, new environment and may be feeling a little anxious, keeping the same feeding routine can help them to settle in and grow in confidence. This should also help prevent any tummy upsets. If you need to change the type of food or the feeding schedule at any time, the changes should be made gradually to minimize any upsets. If there are any problems, revert to the original routine and, if needs be, consult your vet.
Good nutrition is vital for health and well-being so always provide good quality food. This is especially important with kittens and older cats. However, the Devon Rex is notorious for its love of food and can tend to overeat. Be careful with portions as you may need to control the amount of food on offer.
Hydration is essential to keep your pet healthy and aid digestion so ensure there is always a clean, fresh supply of water. Many cats like to drink from running water and the inquisitive nature of the Devon Rex can attract them to play with a running tap. If this sounds like your pet, a drinking fountain could be the ideal solution. There are a variety of fountains available where the water is being recirculated constantly, attracting your cat and encouraging it to investigate, drink and keep hydrated. Of course, as this combines play with hydration, it can provide the perfect combination for your Devon Rex.
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The soft, fine coat of the Devon Rex means they have difficulty in maintaining heat and, although your pet may feel warm to the touch, they can be susceptible to the cold. As a result, they will naturally seek out a warm place to curl up on your knee, a radiator or even your laptop! So, always make sure there is a snuggly blanket in a safe, warm place for your pet to nestle in, especially during the colder months.
All cats produce an oil to maintain and protect their coats and this will spread along the air follicle of cats with normal coat. The lack of hair on the Devon Rex can result in oil collecting on the skin. Bathing every few weeks can help with any build-up of oil and keep your pet’s skin healthy. Bathe in warm water, only a couple of inches deep, using a mild cat shampoo. Gently pat your cat dry with a towel. Do not over bathe as this will cause sensitivity of the skin and never rub with a towel as this may remove the fine coat.
Most cats love to sunbathe and the Devon Rex is no exception. Their light, short coat can leave them prone to sunburn and maybe even skin cancer. To avoid this, keep your pet indoors between 10:00 and 15:00 when the UV levels are at their highest and put specially formulated sun cream on them, paying special attention to the skin around the nose and the tips of the ears. The sun block should be fragrance free, ideally SPF30 and should not contain zinc. Zinc is toxic to cats if licked. Check with your vet for a suitable sun cream or check out the ingredients on human baby sun block for suitability. Always have any lumps, bumps or discoloration on your cat’s skin checked out by your vet as soon as you notice them. In most cases the prognosis for feline cancer is very positive and, after treatment, cats can live a normal lifespan. It does, however, depend on early treatment and how advanced or aggressive the cancer is.
If possible, try to brush teeth daily to help prevent periodontal disease. This is not always easy with such an energetic breed but if this becomes part of a daily routine from being a kitten it is much easier. In any case, do try as it can help keep your pet healthy and save on vet fees. Never use human toothpaste as this includes chemicals that are not good for pets and in any case, they don’t like the taste. Always use a pet toothpaste.
Ears need regular cleaning to remove any waxy deposits and help avoid ear infections and it is a good practice to schedule a weekly ear check. If there is any dirt present, wipe out with a soft, damp cloth and a mix of half warm water and half cider vinegar. Never put anything into the cat’s ear, clean the outside only.
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Eyes should also be checked, and the corners of the eye can be wiped daily with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge or dirt. Wipe from the eye corner out and away from the eye ball and always use a separate cloth for each eye to avoid spreading any infection.
The Devon Rex’s velvety coat and whiskers are fragile, and the follicles can easily break off. If a cat over grooms it can result in bare patches where they can reach to lick. To keep your pet healthy whilst avoiding any skin irritation, use a soft cloth or chamois leather to gently smooth the coat. You could also try a soft, baby brush suitable for a new born human baby. Be guided by your pet’s response to grooming, always taking light strokes. Groom once a week at most.
Always make sure the litter tray is clean. The Devon Rex is a fastidious, clean creature and, if there is any mess in the tray, your pet will not use it. Be warned, they may even find an unorthodox place to use as their toilet! There are many different styles and sizes of litter tray and your cat may prefer one type over another. The depth of the tray and lip size can vary and some even come with a roof for privacy. The roof is usually detachable for ease when cleaning.
It is important to consider the type of cat litter you use in the tray. A dust free litter helps reduce the risk of breathing problems in your pet and wood-based pellets often have a pleasant pine smell.
Play and Socializing
Social interaction is very important to the Devon Rex and, to be happy and content, they need quality time playing with their human. This breed has a very sociable nature and they love to share chores, a game of fetch or even just sharing your general chores. They need to be involved and will follow you around the house, eat with you – and off your plate given half a chance, sleep with you snuggling under your bed covers and are not happy when left alone. They are not known as a talkative breed, but they will trill and chirp on occasion.
This fun-loving breed remains a kitten heart even into adulthood and never truly grows up. If you choose to buy two at the same time, they will often entertain each other and become lifelong companions. As with all cats, the Devon Rex is a natural hunter and, if they become bored, will often hunt food, open cupboards and overeat.
They love to play hide and seek and will often curl up on, such as shelving, cupboards and even the laundry basket. As a precaution, always check the washing machine and especially the tumble dryer before using.
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Although this is an energetic and active breed, the Devon Rex, is not a confrontational or territorial breed and will, in most cases get on well with another cat or even a dog. Of course, this depends if the dog in question likes cats. When introducing pets to each other it is always best to begin with a careful, controlled meeting in case one of the pets becomes anxious or aggressive but even if there should be an initial personality clash, pets will often learn to tolerate each other in time.
A word of caution: Though the Devon Rex can be friendly and tolerant to other cats and dogs, smaller animals will always be considered as prey. All cats have an inbred hunting instinct and smaller pets will be in danger.
Always supervise any child and cat interaction and teach children how to respect an animal’s personal space and the need to be left alone when they need it. It is a good idea to provide an ‘off limits’ place for the pet, a haven they can go to when they need to get away for rest. The child must respect this place as the pet’s sanctuary and must not disturb the animal when it is there. Children can often make sudden movements or loud sounds that can upset a pet but, in time, they can learn care and responsibility. Mutual respect helps to avoid any mishaps.
This loyal, affectionate breed with its mad-cap personality makes an entertaining addition to the household and is happiest when there is company with them in the home. They do not like to be alone and can become lonely and destructive. Not a cat to be ignored, the Devon Rex will follow you around sharing your day and, if you don’t give them some much wanted attention, will nudge and prod you until you do. Non territorial, they tend to get on with people, other cats and even dogs.