The Breed History
First described in 1950, these cats arose from a random mutation in the offspring of a shorthaired tortie and white barn cat in Cornwall, England. The first generation offspring rex male was mated back to the mother, and subsequent out-crossings to British Shorthair, Oriental Shorthair, and Siamese fixed the autosomal recessive haircoat gene and strengthened the breed. First brought to California in 1957, a female gave birth to the foundation kittens for the American lines. The Cornish Rex was first registered with the CFA and GCCF in the 1960s. This is a different gene from the Devon Rex mutation (or the Selkirk Rex). No outcrosses currently allowed. The American Cornish Rex is longer in the head than the British type.
Weight: 6-8 lb (2.5-3.5 kg)
Coat: The Cornish Rex comes in many colors and patterns Bi-colored is the most popular in the registry and show ring; smokes are also fairly common. The short coat is very soft and wavy, curly or rippled. There is a spectrum of hair length, thickness and curl. Longer coat is not as wavy (plush), shorter coat is "nappy" (termed suede). This mutation leaves only undercoat-there are no guard hairs. Uniform tight soft hairs lie close, organizing into "washboard" rows of wavy hairs much like the old-fashioned marcel hairstyle. Whiskers are curly. Born curly coated, these cats go straight haired until about 16 weeks of age when they begin to curl, with coat quality finishing development at sexual maturity. Any bare areas apart from temples and ears are a serious show fault.
Eyes: Oval eyes, medium to large, many colors accepted.
Points of Conformation: English standard varies from the American standard. Small to medium cats, they possess a "racy" body, with a long wedge or "egg"-shaped small head, narrow muzzle, with hollow-cheeked look, very large high set ears lacking furnishings, with rounded tips. Brows are also crinkled. Chin is well developed, profile is lightly Roman nosed, whisker break is evident, and neck is long. Legs are long, with small oval feet. It is normal for them to stand with an arched back, creating a tucked-up abdomen appearance. The tail is long and slender, tapering to a point.
Grooming: Does not mat. Minimal grooming is needed and this should be done with a chamois or fingers only. They do shed, but hairs are small.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Very intelligent, get along well with dogs and children, high energy, enjoy close human contact, and will leash train. Love to play games, and keep kitten-like behaviors late into life. Like to jump very high-to tops of doors and fridges! May shadow a favored person around the house; sometimes referred to as "Velcro kitties". Cornish Rex are vocal cats. Good for indoor lifestyle and apartment living.
Normal Breed Variations
Low tolerance of temperature extremes Easy birthing, good mothers, small-average litters averaging three, average birth weight is 100 g Not predisposed to obesity; many owners free choice feed Long lifespan Blood Type B: Frequency of B blood type reported was 33%.
None reported in the literature
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): Published data support a high risk of complications if parent blood type is not tested prior to breeding. The proportion of matings reported at risk is 0.23. All B type cats have circulating anti-A antibodies and even primiparous queens can carry these. Breeding type B queens to type A toms can result in fatal red cell lysis in blood type A offspring with undetected NI. Kittens with NI can be distinguished from other fading kittens because pigmenturia; anemia and icterus will also be present; not all kittens at risk for NI will develop overt clinical symptoms.3 Use a foster A type queen for the fist 18 hours or milk replacer if confirmed case of NI.
Transfusion Reactions: Due to increased frequency of B blood type, an increased risk of transfusion reactions is expected.
Dystocia: A survey of 2,928 litters that included multiple cat breeds was carried out to ascertain prevalence of dystocia and over-representation of Cornish Rex cats was found, though only 16 Cornish rex litters were analyzed. Average dystocia rate in the study group was 5.8% of litters, with a low rate in a mixed breed colony of 0.4%, and for comparison, a rate of 12.5% in Cornish Rex.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: The most common cardiac condition in all breeds of cats (10% prevalence), possibly inherited in the Rex breeds.
Hereditary Deafness: Is associated with the dominant gene for white cat (W); may be found in white cats of this breed.
FIP Susceptibility: A study in Australia confirmed that the Cornish Rex breed cats were over-represented.
An American study found that Rex cats were significantly over-represented for a diagnosis of FIP when they analyzed data for a 16 year period at a veterinary teaching hospital.
Patellar Luxation: A 1990 report noted a historical breed propensity for patellar luxation.
Rare and Isolated Reports
Umbilical Hernia: In one early literature report, a family of Cornish rex cats had a high incidence of umbilical hernia and it was postulated to be a polygenic condition.
Hypotrichosis: Thin hair progresses to baldness at two weeks of age. May re-grow by 6-9 weeks of age, but loss again occurs at sexual maturity leaving them permanently bald. An autosomal recessive inheritance was postulated.
Though not specifically reported in the literature, blood typing prior to mating or transfusions would be prudent.
- Breed name synonyms: Curly-coat cat, Crex, Rexed cat.
- Registries: FIFe, TICA, CFA, ACFA, CFF, GCCF, ACF, WCF, NZCF, CCA
- Breed resources: The Rex Cat Club (GCCF-U.K.): http://www.sam.luxford-watts.zen.co.uk/home.html
Cornish Rex Society: In the U.K.: http://www.cornish-rex.co.uk/
In the U.S.: http://www.flickoff.com/wavelink.htm
(Cornish) Rex Breeders United (CFA):
446 Itasca Ct NW
Rochester MN 55901
CFA Cornish Rex Breed Council: http://www.cornishrexbc.org
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