The Devon Rex
breed began in the UK, with a curly-coated feral tomcat, who in
1959 is believed to have made his home in an abandoned mine in
Devon. His breeding with a barn cat produced Kirlee, a
curly-coated black smoke and this was the foundation from whom
all other Devon Rex descended. Breeders of the
curly-coated Cornish Rex tried adding Kirlee to their gene pool
but this resulted in only non-curly kittens. It was thereby
discovered that the two curly coat mutations were entirely
Personality and Inter-action:
are extremely intelligent; they invent clever games on their own, and
anything that can be picked up or moved becomes a toy to a Devon. (One
learns to put any jewelry that is removed from one's person into a
jewelry box or drawer immediately!)
They bond very strongly with their people; for that reason, Devon
ownership should be considered a lifelong commitment. They give, and
expect to receive, a great deal of attention and affection. Devon Rex
are not equipped to survive outdoors, and like all beloved cats, should
live their lives indoors.
Appearance: The Devon Rex is known fondly as
"the pixie of the cat fancy." The first reason for that
appellation becomes clear when one looks into the face of a Devon. This
little creature appears to be all ears and cheeks. Visitors to shows
sometimes refer to a Devon as "E.T." Actually, if an
extraterrestrial name were to be pirated for the breed, "Yoda"
would be more apropos.
The Devon's head is a modified wedge, but with very prominent cheeks
and a short muzzle. The eyes are large and wide set, slightly oval and
sloping toward the outer edge of the ears. The ears are strikingly large
and set low, and may have tufts at the tips and "earmuffs," (a
patch of fur at the lower outside edge of the ear). There are three
distinct convex curves; they appear at the lower part of the ear, the
outer edge of the cheeks and the prominent whisker pads.
The coat is distinctive, but it the head that is the most striking
characteristic of the Devon, and the points in the breed Standard bear
that out. Not only is the head type of the Devon Rex strikingly
different from that of its cousin, the Cornish Rex, the body and coat
are also significantly different. The boning is less fine, there is no
tuck-up, the body is less slender, and the chest is broader. Adult males
are noticeably larger than females of the breed. The coat is very short,
with a relaxed wave. There may be down on the underside of the body.
They may be any color that is recognized in championship cats, although
allowable outcrosses to other breeds is very limited.
kittens are among the most charming creatures on earth, and Devon
mothers are generally devoted care-givers and playmates. There is,
however, a major caveat for anyone considering initiating a Devon
breeding program. Devon Rex are among the breeds with a high percentage
(as much as 50%) of incompatible blood types, which means that kittens
from sires and dames with different blood types will die within a few
days if they are allowed to ingest the colostrum that precedes the
production of the mother's milk.
Conscientious breeders always have their breeding cats, male and female,
blood typed in order to be prepared before any babies are produced. Cats
of like blood type may breed without problems; the others must have
help. Veterinarians know which laboratories do blood typing of cats, and
will draw blood for the procedure. A pioneer in blood typing of cats was
Dr. Urs Giger at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Clinical
Studies. Dr. Giger amassed a large body of work, based on blood typing
of cats of various breeds; other research is available. Cats of
incompatible blood types may be bred together, but the breeder must plan
ahead to be present for the birthing, and remove the kittens from the
mother before they have an opportunity to nurse and hand-feed them for
at least 24 hours before allowing them to nurse from their mother. (I
hand feed my kittens from parents of mismatched blood types for three
days.) The mother may be allowed to bond with her kittens if her nipples
are completely covered by two cut layers of nylon stockings to prevent
them from nursing during the critical period.
charm and intelligence of the breed justify the work and the expense.
Devons do not come cheaply; buyers should expect to pay four figures for
a cat to be bred or shown. Litters generally consist of three or four
kittens. For the person who has been "completely Devonized,"
as I have, it is rewarding. It is, however, a responsibility that not
everyone can--or should--take on.