Published on November 20th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin
The Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex is a relatively obscure sort of cat. It’s not so easily obtained as more popular breeds like the Persian and Maine Coon, but it is still a very affectionate and attractive cat if you can manage to get hold of one. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this most intriguing of breeds.
Profile: What is a Cornish Rex?
Cornish Rexes carry a mutation which means that this fur coat is among the softest of any breed of cat. They’re notable for having only one of the three sorts of hair that most cats come equipped with – the long and medium-length hairs are absent, leaving only the so-called ‘down’ hairs which are extremely short at just a centimetre or so long.
Cornish Rexes come in a variety of different colours, including tabbies, torties, black-and white and many more. Their slim build and short-fur coat makes them akin to a feline equivalent of the Greyhound.
History: Where did the Cornish Rex come from?
The Cornish Rex is a relatively modern addition to the roster of pedigree cat breeds. Consequently, we know a great deal more about its roots than we do about those of other, ancient breeds of cat.
‘Rex’ breeds of animals are so named because of an instance where King Albert I of Belgium entered some rabbits into a show. These rabbits each had curly hair, but they did not meet the requirements. The event’s organisers, being too cowardly to make a fuss about it, instead wrote ‘Rex’ beside the name and the suffix has since been applied to any animal with short, curly hair.
The Cornish Rex owes its origins to a Cornish farmer who noticed that one member of a five-strong litter of kittens had a distinctly curly white coat. This farmer, emboldened by some experimentation breeding Rex Rabbits, decided that the best thing to do would be to mate that kitten with its own mother, and the result was a litter of curly-coated white cats. Thusly the new breed was born.
Of course, back-crossing in this manner carries with it risks. To begin with, the new breed was blighted by infertility and premature death, thanks to its severely limited gene pool. Some were taken to America and bred with Siamese, resulting in a distinctive short-haired look.
Personality: What is a Cornish Rex like to own?
The Cornish Rex has a reputation for being full of energy – even mischief. But this reputation is perhaps undeserved. Unlike other breeds like the Persian, the Rex will not be content to lounge around all day – it likes to socialise, move around and interact with things. They are both vocal and playful, and therefore an ideal candidate for households looking for entertainment and affection from their pet, and ideal companions for timid children. That said, this also means that they often become bored and therefore destructive. For this reason they’re unsuitable for households containing expensive leather furniture.
The Cornish Rex, contrary to popular myth, is not ‘hypoallergenic’, ie. Those allergic to cat fur will still suffer in the presence of a specimen. That said, this suffering will be markedly less than it would be in the case of a long-haired cat; for this reason many allergy-sufferers report that their symptoms are minimal. The Cornish Rex moults twice a year in summer and winter. If you’re allergic to cats, then it’s worth remembering that not all cats are created equally, and that you won’t know exactly how you’ll react until you’ve spent some time with the cat.
Any Special Issues?
As we’ve briefly touched upon, one of the main problems with the Cornish Rex is getting hold of one in the first place. If you’ve your heart set on this particular breed, you’ll have to be prepared to travel – and you’re not likely to have much choice when it comes to the exact colour of the animal. If you’re having trouble tracking one down, then you might consider contacting one of the clubs that represent the breed – through them you should be able to get in touch with breeders.
Like most pedigree cats, the Cornish Rex comes with a health warning – its coat is far too short for it to survive in a cold environment. For this reason it’s essential to provide the Rex with a warm place they can retreat to during the winter months. They are often attracted to warm things, such as computer monitors, ovens, fireplaces, lightbulbs and laptops.