The first Cornish Rex cat, named Kallibunker, made its appearance on a farm in Cornwell, southwest England during the 1950s. Like the emergence of the most unusual breeds, it was part of the litter of a nondescript barn cat. It stood out among the other kittens with its curly coat, a result of a natural mutation, and became the founder of the Cornish Rex breed. Upon the proposal of a geneticist, Kallibunker was mated with his mother after he has matured. The mating brought about the desirable result of a litter with two more male kittens that have inherited Kallibunker’s curly coat.
Further studies have revealed that the Rex type nature of the cat was caused by a recessive gene. When Kallibunker was bred with Siamese, Burmese and British Shorthair cats, the kittens produced all had a normal straight hair coat, but had also carried the recessive gene. Breeding them back to Cornish Rex or to each other has resulted in curly coated kittens. This indicated that both parents would need to carry this recessive gene in order to allow for the possibility of kittens with curly fur to occur.
Crossing the Cornish Rex with other cat breeds, such as Russian Blue, American Shorthair and Havana Brown, had helped to strengthen the Cornish Rex’s tiny gene pool and had at the same time introduced a variety of genetically possible colors and patterns.
1957 marked the year where the first Cornish Rex was first exported to the United Sates. Popularity was gained quickly and in 1964, Cornish Rex was added to the list of recognized breeds under the Cat Fanciers Association. Other cat registries such as the International Cat Association and the American Cat Fanciers Association had also granted this exceptional breed full recognition and had promoted it to be a popular show cat.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium sized breed that weighs an average of 5 – 8 pounds for female and 8 – 10 pounds for males. The Cornish Rex is distinguished by its lean and graceful form. Its body is medium length with fine and delicate bone structure that gives it its elegant deportment. Sleek but not slack, the strength of the Cornish Rex is evident in its well-muscled hips and thighs that contribute to its considerably heavy weight.
It stands tall on its long, slender legs supported with small, oval, refined paws. The hind legs are visibly longer than the front. Enhancing the body lines is its extended tail that tapers to a fine point and that is well covered with wavy hair. Cornish Rex has a distinctly arched back when it stands tall, adding to the number of curvy features that it possesses.
Its high cheek bones and definite whisker pads delineate two narrowing convex curves down to its strong chin. The head is held up gracefully by a neat, long neck. It has a characteristically small egg-shaped head, featuring it slightly longer than wide. Viewed in profile, one can mark out a flat skull, a straight nose with a high bridge and a rounded muzzle. It has bat-like ears that sit high on the head and set at a good distance. Wide at the base and tapering into a rounded tip, they have a slight resemblance to large mussel shells.
Eyes of Cornish Rex are large, oval and may be slanted slightly upwards. It produces one of the most arresting gazes with the bright, alert and the intense disposition of the eyes. They are no restriction to its color, but pointed cats usually come with eyes of clear blue.
Cornish Rex most defining features is on its coat of hair. While most cats have three types of hair, namely, the guard hair, awn hair and down hair (undercoat), a Cornish Rex only has the undercoat. They are slightly plush, dense and short. The characteristics of its undercoat have revealed a distinguishing coat of neat, tight marcel curls. These curls must be felt to be appreciated; the lack of guard hair has given the coat an incredibly velvety and fine texture. The curls are also apparent in its whiskers and eyebrow.
Cornish Rex can come in different colors and patterns. Solid colors come in a range of bicolor, black, blue, cream and red. The patterns include calico, tabby, tortoiseshell and van.
Personality and temperament
Cornish Rex has an opposing personality to its suave and refined appearance. Acrobatic and attention seeking, they are fearless in leaping onto and off high places for the sheer joy it can derive. It displays its pleasure and eagerness in playing fetch and chasing other pets around the house.
Incessantly curious and adventurous, it takes an interest and inventive inkling in everything around the home. The Cornish Rex seeks to be where the action is and that usually occurs among humans. Thus, it is no surprise to see the Cornish Rex following the owner around the house, snuggling, clinging and participating in every possible household activity with its loved ones. Human companionship with members of the household or with other house pets plays an integral part in the Cornish Rex’s life.
It does not restrict its imagination and exploration to ground level, but can be seen atop various high places, such as refrigerator, washing machines or kitchen counter. Such temperament has also empowered it to be readily adaptable to new situations and environments.
Being an extremely active breed commands also an enormous appetite to meet its high energy level. Yet, even when the energy seems spent, the Cornish Rex will still approach life with an unending pool of zest well into its senior years. A quick learner, Cornish Rex is also marked for its high intelligence that allows it to grasp tricks and puzzles effortlessly.
Care and health Issues
A Cornish Rex that is generally healthy can live up to an average lifespan of 10 – 15 years. One of the few health issues that was known to happen to Cornish Rex include patellar luxation, a condition where one or both of its kneecaps may slide out of place. Congenital hypotrichosis, also known as hereditary baldness, may also occur in this breed. This is most probably the result of the inherited recessive gene. Already with the lack of guard hair, this condition could cause the hair of Cornish Rex to be fewer than what is normal.
Cornish Rex may also have the risk of developing Malassezia dermatitis, a type of ear infections generated by single-celled yeast that would cause the ears to be greasy. The same greasiness could also occur in the paws. Thus, both ears and paws would require frequent cleaning with a vet-approved gentle cleanser.
The coat of Cornish Rex provides little protection from both hot and cold weather. Thus, it is not advisable to let this breed bask in the sun’s ray without any form of sunscreen. Its delicate coat would need little grooming, the lesser the grooming the better to prevent damaging it.
The only other care this breed needs is weekly trimming of nails and regular teeth brushing. Purchasing the cat breed from a qualified breeder would ensure that the cat has undergone the necessary tests for inherited diseases. An annual vet check and vaccination would help to maintain the heartiness of the cat.
The ideal home
Active, sociable and affectionate, the Cornish Rex is an ideal choice for families with children and other pets. Besides love, companionship and attention, this breed also need a lot of space, vertically and horizontally, to spend its energy climbing, exploring and performing its acrobatic stunts. Access to an enclosed and secured outdoor area or an indoor adventure zone with the necessary toys and climbing poles would be ideal for this breed. With its playful and outgoing nature, the Cornish Rex is an excellent pet for any lively family that is generous in love and care.