Skip to main content

Cornish Rex


Section 4 – FOREIGN – Group 2

Cornish Rex make excellent pets. Aristocratic in appearance they are extremely intelligent, very affectionate and gentle whilst still getting up to mischief and never seeming to grow old. Even cats in their mid-teens will still be playful.

Some charming characteristics of the breed are their dog like habits of following their owners around and retrieving their favourite toys. A distinctive feature of the breed being their long toes which enable them to use their paws like little hands. The breed is elegant, agile and very active and requires companionship.


The Cornish Rex breed is the result of a spontaneous natural mutation which occurred in non-pedigree cats in a small village on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall in 1950. Serena a tortie and white short hair female belonging to Mrs Nina Ennismore and Miss Winifred Macalister gave birth to a litter of five kittens, four of the kittens were normal coated but the fifth kitten was born covered in curls and with whiskers that looked like coiled watch springs. This kitten was named Kallibunker and he was the original Cornish Rex. The sire of the kittens was unknown but it is extremely likely it was Serena’s litter brother ‘Ginger’ a short hair red tabby. The Cornish Rex gene is inherited as a recessive so was most likely to appear when two closely related cats bred together. Cornish Rex achieved GCCF breed recognition in the late 1960s.

Appearance and Colours

The effect of this mutation not only altered the coat but also accentuated the characteristics of the domestic cat creating a longer, slighter but more muscular and agile animal than its ancestors. With very muscular hind legs they are capable of amazing speed and incredibly high jumps. The Cornish Rex is a medium sized cat which has a medium length even wedge head with high cheekbones narrowing to a gently rounded muzzle and firm chin. Their large wide based ears are set rather high (but not vertically) on the head and are almost mussel shell shaped with rounded tips. In profile they have a flat skull which curves gently at the brow then continues in a straight line to the tip of the nose. Their oval eyes are medium in size and set at a slight slant with an almost straight top line giving a rather sultry expression. They have an elegant neck, a hard muscular slender body of medium length. Their long slender legs give an overall appearance of being high on the legs. Paws are small and oval. Their tails are long, fine and tapering and should be well covered with wavy fur. The coat of the Cornish Rex is the main feature which distinguishes it from all other breeds. Once felt never forgotten. It should be short, dense and silken in texture without guard hairs and must curl, wave or ripple over the entire body, particularly over the back and sides. The coat on the head and neck, over the shoulders and on the legs is sometimes too short to wave. Whiskers and eyebrows are curled or crinkled and of good length. Coats usually look their best at full maturity which is around three years of age.

There are no points allocated for colour, pattern or eye colour within the standard of points for the breed. However Cornish Rex are now bred in all colours and pattern combinations from pointed to self coloureds and tabbies with and without white, including the more recently introduced cinnamon, fawn and caramel.


The Cornish Rex is a highly social, extremely affectionate, captivating companion animal. Always ready to play, they are acrobatic and funny in their antics and if there is no-one willing to play they will invent lively and energetic games. Close human contact is important to the Cornish and without his ‘people’ this wonderful cat would soon decline. This is a breed that adores human attention and friendship and, like a heat-seeking missile, you will find your Cornish in your bed and on your lap as you rest. Not usually a very vocal cat, the Cornish will communicate with you with expressive eyes and body language. Lovely with all members of the family, the Cornish Rex would be unhappy and bored if left without people for too long! This intelligent curious cat is friendly towards other companion animals in the family.


The Cornish Rex is in general a hardy breed and does not require any unusual care but they should not be left out in the rain without shelter because due to the lack of guard hairs their coats can quickly become saturated. Coats do vary within the breed with some moulting out all at once whereas others have such a gradual moult it is hardly noticeable. Hand grooming is normally sufficient to keep their coats in good condition but in some of the longer or woollier coated cats a soft bristle brush or a fine toothed comb might be necessary to coax the coat into neat waves. It is usually necessary to bath White and Bi-coloured cats with a high degree of white prior to shows due to the discolouration which can occur on their paws, tails and hind legs.


Three different blood types exist within the breed – Type ‘A’, Type ‘B’ and Type ‘AB’ but these do not seem to cause the problems experienced in other breeds.   White and high degree white Bi-colours with white ears may require sun protection cream on their ears during the summer months.   Males weigh 8-10lbs, females 5-7lbs.  Lifespan is around 16+ years.