Devon Rex Cat Breed: What You Need to Know

The curly-haired Devon local. 

The Devon Rex is a relatively young breed of cats, with its history traced back to a kitten named Kirlee, born in the 1950s in Devon, England. 

A tortoiseshell cat was the mother, and a curly-haired stray fathered this curly-haired kitten.

Devon Rex
Devon Rex

Quick facts about the Devon Rex

Weight: 5 to 10 pounds Height: 10 to 12 inches
Life span: 9 to 15 years
Intelligence: high Temperament: social | affectionate | brave
Playfulness: high Activity level: hyper
Vocalness: when necessary Coat length: short
Shedding amount: normal
Good with: kids | seniors | dogs | other cats | families
Traits: Devon Rex cats are known for being easy to train. They are also easy to groom due to their short coat. They are friendly toward other pets, people, and strangers alike.

At the time of Kirlee’s birth, a national drive was underway to preserve the genetic line of the Cornish Rex (whose curly coat is reminiscent of the Devon’s). However, once Kirlee’s DNA was sequenced, breeders realized the gene that curled Kirlee’s hair was different from that of the Cornish Rex or any other Rex breed of cat. 

And, there you have it, Kirlee is the common ancestor of all Devon Rex cats that we know and love today. 

Devon Rex’s are slight of build, with big eyes, pointed ears, high cheekbones, long necks, and their most obvious characteristic, their beautiful curly coats. 
These coats are genetically formed and are some of the shortest hairs among the Rex species. 

You will be able to find these curiously-coated cats in almost every color variation available, including rarities such as lilac and cinnamon. 

These cats are more than just a pretty coat, though. 

Beyond their unusual appearance, Devon Rex cats are highly intelligent, playful, and sociable. With enough motivation, you can train your Devon Rex well; treats and positive affirmations are best for this. 

Devon Rex

Often described as clownish, a Devon Rex is sociable and goofy, loving to play the fool with their owners and other household animals. This attentive and active nature can border on demanding at times, and these playful creatures are not shy to do what it takes to get your attention. 

Make sure that you give them plenty of toys and scratch poles to keep them entertained. They are also best not left on their own for extended periods, as they really enjoy being close to their family. 

Devon Rex’s short hair is prone to greasiness, so get your cat used to bathing early, as a consistent weekly bath time routine is going to be an important aspect of your cat’s healthcare. 

Devon Rex can live between 9 and 15 years with proper care, attention, and love. While not prone to obesity, feed your cat carefully and give them high-quality cat food. They are also susceptible to joint dislocations and hereditary baldness. Bald or not, though, the short hair of a Devon Rex makes it very prone to sunburn, and you should monitor this carefully. 

The rarity of the Devon Rex makes it a fairly expensive cat to own but highly worthwhile once you do. 


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Dr. Adedapo Adisa:

Initially thought to be linked to the Cornish rex cat breed but later found not to be accurate, the Devon rex cat is an energetic and intelligent cat with a striking appearance of long-eared and short wavy coats.

Native to England, the Devon rex cats have been called “monkey in catsuits” because of their ability to take a high jump. The cats have enjoyed a bill of good health and have a life expectancy that falls between 9-15 years.

Devon rex cats are relatively healthy cats with very few inherited conditions.

Among the health issues faced by the Devon rex cat breed are; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a medical condition affecting muscles of the heart. Another medical condition is Patella luxation affecting the knee joint.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the muscular walls of the left ventricles in the Devon rex cats. As a result of genetic mutation, the walls of the left ventricles thicken, and they begin to lose their function of adequately pumping blood. 

In the upper section of the left ventricle (left atrium) and even the lungs, blood begins to accumulate there as a resultant effect of the ineffective pumping action of the left ventricle. 

The pooling of blood results in a clot in the left atrium and even fluid build-up in the lungs. This eventually leads to a severe condition in the Devon rex cats known as congestive heart failure and even paralysis due to clots blocking various blood vessels.

Certain signs are seen in the Devon rex cats that points toward this medical condition. This includes;

● Cardiac murmurs (sound heard as blood flows through the heart)

● Fluid build up around the lungs

● Lethargy and loss of weight.

● Exercise intolerance in the cats 

● Irregular Heart Rhythms.

Early detection of this condition can help manage and improve this condition in the Devon rex cats. It is best to reach out to your veterinarian if any of these signs have been noticed and screen out for Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Devon rex cats before making them available for breeding.

Another inherited health condition in the Devon rex breed is Patella Luxation. This is a condition that affects the knee joint in cats. This joint consists of the femur (bone of the thigh) and tibia (shin bone). The patella, also called the knee cap, is located on a groove (trochlea groove) around the end of the femur. 

When the knee cap pops out or shifts away from its normal position, then the condition is called Patella luxation. In the Devon rex cats, this condition seems to have a genetic origin, resulting from a shallow trochlea groove where the patella sits on.

Some common signs to note in the Devon rex cats with Patella luxation include, 

● Lameness in cats comes and goes.

● Cats begin to have difficulty in walking, running, and jumping.

● Pain on touching the affected knee.

● Inflammation of the knee joint.

● Cats avoiding routine exercises.

Your veterinarian can diagnose this condition in the Devon rex cats by physically examining the affected knee joint and, in some cases, via X-rays.

Prognosis or expected outcomes in the Devon rex cats are good when patella luxation is diagnosed early enough by a Veterinarian. 

However, treatment plans may include surgical interventions, supplements, and medications to alleviate pains and swelling.

Like other inherited conditions in pedigree cats, it is best to always screen the Devon rex cats for inherited conditions to prevent the cats from passing it across to their kittens. 

Devon Rex Cats with inherited conditions should be discontinued from any breeding programs involved.

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