The Devon Rex is an unusual kitty, with big bat ears, a pointy face and a short and tight curly coat. You might think upon first glance it's not a cat at all but a little woodland gnome who's wandered into your house to get cuddles and love.
Devon Rex Cat Origins
As their name implies, this breed came to be in the county of Devon in England. The breed was developed from a stray kitten named Kirlee who was born with the mutation for their unusual curly coat. Kirlee was bred with "regular" shorthair cat breeds to produce more kittens with the mutation, known as the "Devon Gene 2." Eventually it became the breed we know today, and was recognized as a breed by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1983 and The International Cat Association in 1979.
Devon Rex Cat Characteristics
The Devon Rex is affectionately known as the "Pixie of the Cat Fancy." The breed is easy to spot in a crowd. They have large, pointed ears that almost appear too much for their head coupled with big round eyes. Likewise, their triangle-shaped heads seem too big for their necks and bodies, sort of like a feline bobble-head doll. They have lithe, athletic bodies and they weigh around six to nine pounds. As with most breeds, males will be larger than females.
Devon Rex Cat Coat and Grooming
One of the most telling features of the Devon Rex is their coat, which is a series of tight, soft curls all over their bodies. In fact the term "rex" refers to a type of animal coat that is very soft, short, fine and dense. Some cats may be hairless on some areas of their bodies as well and others will have very thin, small curls that feel like suede when touched. Their fur is low shedding and actually quite delicate. Some cats will lose their fur over their lifetime, either on its own or from excessive grooming, and they can easily break whiskers. Other cats will drop their coats on a seasonal basis.
Devon Rex Coat and Eye Colors
The Devon Rex comes in most available coat colors including solid black, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, cream, fawn, lavender, red, and white. Patterns they come in include tortoiseshell, calico, tabby, bicolor, tricolor, mink, sepia, shaded, smoke, van and pointed. They can also have just about any possible feline eye color including shades of amber, green, blue, gold, hazel, yellow and odd (heterochromia) eyes.
Devon Rex Grooming
The Devon Rex is an extremely easy cat to groom. Brushing and combing is not required or even recommended due to the fragile structure of their fur. Rather, they can be cleaned with a chamois cloth once or twice a week. Regular ear cleanings are also important with this breed because of the size and shape of their ears and risk of infection and mites.
Is the Devon Rex Hypoallergenic?
There is some belief that these cats are hypoallergenic because their fur is not like that of a regular cat. While some allergy sufferers might appreciate the differences with their fur, they are not hypoallergenic cats as they have the same type of dander that causes allergies.
Devon Rex Cat Personality
If you want a sedate, quiet lap cat, the Devon Rex is not the breed for you. They are social, active and immensely silly cats. The Cat Fanciers' Association describes them as a mix of "a cat, a dog, a monkey and Dennis the Menace." Many Devon Rex lovers call them "dog like" because of their propensity for following you around and interacting with you more like a member of the canine species than the feline. Devons love all types of people and do well with children, and they are known to enjoy the company of other pets.
Devon Rex Enrichment Activities
These are cats that will need a lot of play and entertainment to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Interactive toys they can play with on their own, as well as toys they can enjoy with you, are a must. They are also acrobatic cats and excellent jumpers so providing them with plenty of cat trees and shelves will make them very happy cats. If you enjoy doing more with your cat, the Devon Rex is the ideal candidate for clicker training and learning tricks and behaviors.
Devon Rex Cat Health Concerns
The Devon Rex lives about nine to 15 years. There are a few medical conditions that are endemic to the breed. These include:
- Devon Rex myopathy or spasticity is a congenital condition that appears before a kitten reaches six months of age. The condition involves weakness all over a cat's muscular system and there is no currently known cure.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is a thickening of the muscles of the heart, and heart disease.
- Luxating patella, which is a problem with the knee caps moving out of place leading to mobility problems and possible surgery. Devons can also suffer from hip dysplasia, another joint condition.
- Congenital hypotrichosis which causes a cat to be born bald, or nearly so.
- Ear and skin problems, including malassezia dermatitis which is a yeast infection in the ears and skin. Another common condition is urticaria pigmentosa which involves irritated sores on the cat's skin.
- Although not a disorder, Devon Rexes tend to need warmth more than other breeds of cat so providing them with a sweater or a heated cat bed is important if you live in a colder climate. Your Devon will of course decide the best source of warmth is you!
- Devons have a reputation for being fixated on food, so making sure they don't get into your meals or steal items that are toxic for them is important. It also means watching their weight as they can become obese if they're allowed to beg and grab food from your plates on a regular basis.
Where Can You Get a Devon Rex Cat?
If you're searching for a purebred Devon Rex kitten, it's best to start with a breeder through the Cat Fanciers' Association or The International Cat Association's website directories. When looking at breeders, make sure they provide a health guarantee and screen their cats for HCM and luxating patellas. A purebred Devon Rex kitten will sell for around $600 to $1,000 or more if it's a cat from a quality show bloodline.
Rescuing a Devon Rex Cat
Since Devon Rex cats are not a more common breed in the U.S., there are no rescue groups devoted specifically to them. One place to contact are breeders who may have retired cats to place or cats that were rehomed with them. Planet Devon is a website that has breeder listings and resources for both purchasing and rescuing Devon Rex cats. You can also search for the breed using Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet to find them at all-breed cat rescues and public animal shelters.
Is the Devon Rex Cat the Right Cat For You?
If you want an unusual looking breed with a sparkling, loving personality, the Devon Rex could be a perfect fit. They don't have extreme grooming needs but will need to be kept warm so kitty sweaters will be a must in colder areas. These cats are not the best in homes looking for a low key companion but thrive where they can be an active and engaged part of the family.