Vital Stats:Life Span: 9 to 15 years
It was first thought that Kirlee, a kitten born in Devon, England, in 1959, shared the same genetic makeup as the Cornish Rex, a breed born a decade earlier in nearby Cornwall, but test breedings soon established that Kirlee was unique, another result of a natural genetic mutation. As suggested by his name, Kirlee had a wavy coat. Little is known of his ancestry. His mother was a stray, and his father was thought to be a roaming tom who also had a curly coat.
Kirlee became the progenitor of a new breed, the Devon Rex, named for his birthplace of Devonshire, as well as his curly coat, which had a texture reminiscent of that of a rex rabbit. Less than a decade later, in 1968, a Devon Rex had emigrated to the United States. The Cat Fanciers Association gave the breed full recognition in 1979.
The Devon Rex weigh 5 to 10 pounds.
The Devon’s favorite perch is right at head level, on the shoulder of his favorite person. He takes a lively interest in everything that is going on and refuses to be left out of any activity. Count on him to stay as close to you as possible, occasionally communicating his opinions in a quiet voice. He loves people and welcomes the attentions of friends and family alike.
This is a smart cat with a moderate activity level. He’s not in constant motion, but he does like to learn tricks and play fetch. Puzzle toys and interactive toys are a delight to his inventive brain and will help to keep him occupied while you are out earning money to buy more of them.
At mealtime, the Devon will try to seat himself at the dining room table with the rest of the family, sure that the food you have prepared is just for him. He likes to eat and will snack himself into a few extra pounds if you don’t carefully monitor his food intake.
Under the covers is his preferred place to sleep. Like a heat-seeking missile, he targets the warmest spots he can find.
Choose a Devon if you will enjoy the company of a mischievous, agile cat and won’t be alarmed to see him peering down at you from the top of a door, plotting the trajectory to your shoulder.
Both pedigreed cats and mixed-breed cats have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic in nature. Devon Rex are generally healthy, but the following diseases have been seen in the breed:
- Congenital hypotrichosis, otherwise known as hereditary baldness, a condition that is probably the result of an inherited recessive gene. The Devon Rex naturally has a very fine coat, but those with less hair than normal for the breed are considered to be hypotricotic.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is inherited in some cat breeds such as the Maine Coon. Heritability has not been proven in the Devon Rex.
- Malassezia dermatitis, a single-celled yeast that causes ear infections, greasy skin and itchiness, which is treated with antifungal drugs.
- Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip socket that causes laxity of the hip joint.
- Urticaria pigmentosa, a dermatological problem that causes crusty sores on the body and is treated with prednisolone and essential fatty acids.
- Devon Rex myopathy, also known as spasticity, is an inherited condition that becomes apparent between 3 weeks and 6 months of age. It causes generalized muscle weakness, and the cats tire easily. No treatment is available, and severity of the condition varies. It may remain stable or progress slowly.
The Devon’s wavy coat is easy to maintain. Groom gently so you don’t break the delicate hairs. In many cases, brushing your hand over the coat is all it needs. The best thing about a Devon Rex coat is that it doesn’t shed much, and the fur is so fine that it isn’t very noticeable on clothing and furniture.
Baths are rarely necessary unless the cat is white or has a lot of white on the coat. Those cats can start to look dingy if they are not regularly bathed. The coat dries quickly after a bath.
Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Wipe the corners of the eyes daily with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge. Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.
Keep the litter box spotlessly clean. Like all cats, Devon Rex are very particular about bathroom hygiene.
The Devon Rex feels warm to the touch, but he is always seeking warmth. If you are cold, he probably is too. Buy him a nice sweater or two to help him retain heat.
It’s a good idea to keep a Devon Rex as an indoor-only cat to protect him from diseases spread by other cats, attacks by dogs or coyotes, and the other dangers that face cats who go outdoors, such as being hit by a car. Devon Rex who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such an unusual cat without paying for it. If possible, build your Devon Rex a large outdoor enclosure where he can jump and climb safely. If your Devon Rex has an outdoor enclosure that allows for sunbathing, be sure to apply cat-safe sunscreen to his body to prevent sunburn.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Devon is often described as having an elfin appearance, with his large ears, high cheekbones and striking eyes. His outstanding characteristic, however, is his soft, wavy fur. His curvy body starts with his head, a modified wedge shape with convex curves forming the outer edge of the ear lobes, the cheekbones and the whisker pads. The Devon has large, wide-set, oval-shaped eyes and strikingly large ears set low on the head. Sometimes the tips of the ears are tufted with fine fur.
A “rexed” coat is soft and fine, appearing to be without the harsh guard hairs that characterize most cat coats. The cat’s body is well covered with fur, most thickly on the back, sides, tail, legs, face and ears. Some Devons have loose, shaggy curls, while others have a coat that is more thin and suedelike. The hair on the top of the head, the neck, chest and abdomen is slightly less dense and may even look downy, but the cat should never have bare patches. Smooth the coat with your hand and rippled waves appear. It comes in any genetically possible color, pattern or combination of colors and patterns, including solid white, black, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, lavender and red; smoke patterns, which are a white undercoat deeply tipped with a specific color; and various calico, tabby, tortoiseshell and pointed patterns.
A Devon’s medium-size body is deceptively slender, unless the cat has been sneaking too many snacks. His body should feel hard and muscular. The legs are long and slim, supported by small, oval paws. A long, fine tail covered with short fur tapers at the end.
Children And Other Pets
The active and social Devon Rex is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. He will play fetch as well as any retriever, learns tricks easily and loves the attention he receives from children who treat him politely and with respect. Introduce pets slowly and in controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.