Cat Breeds 101: The Devon Rex

This Devon Rex kitten shows off the breed's signature big ears and pixie-like appearance

This Devon Rex kitten shows off the breed’s signature big ears and pixie-like appearance

Also known as the “pixie cat,” the “alien cat,” or the “poodle cat,” the Devon Rex certainly lives up to its many names. The wavy-coated breeds hails from England, first gaining attention in the early 1960s. They are a well-liked breed, due to their innocent looks, intelligent nature, and likelihood of producing less allergens than other breeds. Here, we’re going to learn all about The Devon Rex including their history, looks, behavior, and health status.

Where do Devon Rex come from?

The first Devon Rex was discovered in 1960 in the UK in a random litter of kittens. Among his brothers and sisters lay one curly-haired kitten that would later be known as the first Devon Rex. Originally, it was assumed that the breed was a variant of the Cornish Rex, but as it turns out they are two completely different breeds.

The Cornish Rex had already been established as a breed by this time, but the founders of the Devon Rex would soon find out that a few key differences separated the two breeds. Cornish Rex have tight, uniform waves; whereas the Devon Rex have tousled curly hair. Devon Rex have stubby or no whiskers while the Cornish Rex have long curly whiskers. There is also a difference in ear placement, with the Devon Rex’s ears jutting out to the sides as opposed to high up on the head like the Cornish Rex.

The gene that produces the Devon Rex’s signature looks has been identified as the Devon Gene 2. The breed was first imported to the U.S. in 1968 and recognized as a breed by the Cat Fancier’s Association in 1979. Almost all breed fanciers’ associations now recognize the Devon Rex as a breed.

What do Devon Rex look like?

Notice how the Devon Rex's ears are still proportionally large, even in adulthood

Notice how the Devon Rex’s ears are still proportionally large, even in adulthood

The Devon Rex is easy to distinguish, due to their silky looking yet curly coat of fur. They have distinctly large ears that are set low on their heads, giving them an alien-like look. Combined with their large eyes and curly or nonexistent whiskers, the Devon Rex could easily be from outer space. To go along with their light-looking fur, the Devon Rex has a light and airy body, built for leaps and jumps.

The Devon Rex has their signature curly coat due to lack of the outer layer of fur, called the guard hairs. Due to this abnormality, the Devon Rex is known to produce less allergens than other cats, making this breed a good option for people with mild allergies. Devon Rex can be any color, including colorpoint. Their eyes can be any color as well, and often come in blue and aqua.

What do Devon Rex act like?

The Devon Rex are a smart breed, and great contenders to learn how to do tricks that are often too complicated or bothersome for other cats. They have extraordinary aural (hearing) skills, and easily learn their own name, the name of their owner, and trick commands. They will often learn to walk on a leash easily and quickly. Although the Devon Rex may want to explore the great outdoors, it is suggested that they are indoor cats. This is because their lack of guard hair makes it harder for them to stay warm and an easy target for bully cats in the neighborhood.

The Devon Rex’s outgoing nature makes them good travelers and the breed is popular as therapy cats. They are loyal lapcats that are almost always ready for cuddling. If you aren’t a cuddler, the Devon Rex isn’t for you! They love to curl up in warm spots due to their lack of guard hairs, and will often find themselves under the covers or cuddled up to their favorite human. They tend to fall in love with one member of the family and faithfully follow them around the house.

What is their general health like?

As with most cats, Devon Rex have a tendency to be afflicted with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease that is the most common affliction for house cats. They are also prone to patellar luxation, which causes cats to dislocate their joints. Often, this problem will solve itself, but should be taken seriously as it could develop and become more problematic.

One health issue specific to the Devon Rex is hereditary myopathy, an issue that affects the cat’s stature. Usually, it will manifest as a low neck, with the head dipping down. In a more serious case, the chin may tuck all the way into the chest. This can cause problems for the cats regarding digestion, swallowing, and possibly airway obstruction. The condition will stabilize around nine months of age, and if the cat does well up to that point, they will likely be able to live a healthy and happy life, besides becoming tired more often than other cats.

Since Devon Rex lack their guard hairs that block lots of dirt and grime from attaching to the under coat, Devon Rex may need to be groomed and bathed more than other cats. They tend to get a greasy coating around their paws and ears, and Devon Rex owners should gently clean around the area and occasionally give the cat a bath. Grooming a Devon Rex must be approached gently, as rough brushing, combing, or rubbing could damage the cat’s fur.

If you are interesting in adding a Devon Rex to your home, the first thing that you’ll need to do is research rescues and breeders in your area. You will also want to keep an eye out at your local animal shelter. Since the Devon Rex is a rarer breed, it is unlikely that they will pop up in a shelter, but there are rescues throughout the country that may be able to assist you. Devon Rex kittens cost between $500-1000, depending on the breed line. When discussing adoption with a breeder or shelter, make sure to discuss the cat’s health statistics and those of the breed line if possible.