Section 4 – FOREIGN – Group 2
Often described as resembling the Gremlins from the Star Wars films, the Devon Rex is a small- to medium-sized cat with a Pixie-like appearance. The defining features of these endearing little cats are their big eyes, high cheekbones and velvety soft coat that ripples and waves under your touch. These little minxes are friendly, intelligent, curious companions and will make a playful addition to your household.
Buckfastleigh in Devon is the ancestral home of the Devon Rex where a feral tom cat with a curly coat lived in an abandoned tin mine. In 1960, a tortie & white stray had a litter of kittens sired by the feral tom. One the kittens was a brownish-black male with a coat just like his sire’s. The breeder kept the kitten and named him Kirlee. Aware of the first Cornish Rex (named Kallibunker) and the work to preserve that new gene, the breeder asked if her Kirlee could contribute to that breeding programme. However, it turned out that the gene creating Kirlee’s curly coat was different to the one producing Kallibunker’s even and well-defined waves. Breeders started developing a programme to conserve the gene discovered in Devon too. The gene discovered in Cornwall was designated Gene 1 and that discovered in Devon Gene 2. All Devon Rex can trace their ancestry back to Kirlee who was sadly killed in a car accident in 1970.
The Devon Rex should have a hard, muscular body and a slender neck. The head is a short, broad wedge with strong cheekbones, a strong muzzle and firm chin. The nose is short and there is a definite ‘stop’ in the profile. The whiskers and eyebrows have been described as ‘designer stubble’ and are crinkled and fragile with a tendency to break off. Ears are large, set low and wide apart. Eyes are oval-shaped and can be any colour. The legs are long and slim, with small oval paws, while the tail is long, fine and tapering, and covered with short fur. Retaining the appearance of Kirlee (the breed’s foundation cat), the compact and supple body of a Devon Rex is covered with loose waves and curls. Devons can be bred in any colour or colour combination, with or without white markings, and in a variety of patterns – so the choice is endless.
Devon Rex are intelligent, mischievous and highly active. They are very playful and want to be involved in everything – and they are powerful jumpers so no spot goes unexplored! Expect to find them perching on the top of doors or climbing to some previously unexplored place. Although they are interested in everything going on around them, Devons are very people-oriented and prefer to share their investigations with you so expect their company no matter what you are doing. They will perch on your shoulder watching you make supper (food is another of their favourite things!), curl in your lap while you read a book and snuggle under the covers to sleep with you at night. They are not particularly talkative but do chirp when they feel they absolutely need you to look at something that has caught their interest. These busy little pixies work well in an active household as they thrive on company but should not be left alone for long periods as they can become destructive if they get bored. They are great with children and get along well with other family pets. Ask any Devon Rex breeder or owner and they will tell you that generally these cats are very entertaining and funny! They are both active and interactive, seeking you out to play and for a cuddle. Indeed, their mischievousness and playful behaviour are all part of their charm.
Devon Rex are well-muscled cats weighing on average from 6 to 9 lbs, with males being heavier than females. Their soft, short, curly coats vary from cat to cat – the ideal show coat is an even, full coat of loose curls but individual cats will have coats ranging from a tousled mop of curls to a thin suede-like coat. Some cats may also have almost bare patches as well. The coats often vary over the life of the cat and when moulting the coat will often break off so no curl is apparent until the new coat grows back. Kittens often go through this stage. The Devon’s wavy coat is easy to maintain. Groom gently so you do not break the delicate hairs. In many cases, brushing your hand over the coat is all it needs. One of the startling things when you pick up a Devon is how warm they are to the touch – they feel like soft hot water bottles and are ideal to snuggle up to in winter. They have the same body temperature as other cats but their coat does not provide as much insulation and so they feel warmer. They also love heat and will be found basking in the windows or seeking other sources of heat like the top of the television. The lifespan of a Devon Rex is typically 12 to 16 years.
Contrary to popular opinion, Devon Rex do shed just like all other cats; however, the structure of their coat makes the shedding less obtrusive than in some other breeds. For some reason, there is a perception that the Devon Rex is hypo-allergenic but they do produce allergens like every other cat. Some people with allergies to cats are able to tolerate Devons but others are not depending on their personal allergies. If you are allergic and are considering a Devon, you should make arrangements to spend some time in the company of a Devon before acquiring one.