More and more cat owners these days are paying attention to the breed that they adopt or buy. But before you make what can be a complex decision, you need to know more about factors like healthcare, personality, and feeding. In this blog post, it is the turn of the Devon Rex, which is a cat that originated in the south of England, but now has more widespread popularity around the world. Let’s start by looking at a short history of this moggy.
History of the Devon Rex
Named after the county in the very southwest of England, the first Devon Rex was a cross between a feral Tortoiseshell and a white female cat. She has a curly coat which made her stand out from all her brothers and sister. Not only similar in name, the Devon Rex is the natural cousin of the Cornish Rex, and it was first assumed that they were one and the same before a gene mutation was found to have occurred. The features that differentiate them include the lower ears and larger eyes of the Devon breed. But both breeds are known for their sweet and loveable nature. They are also highly active in their lifestyles.
It didn’t take long for the Devon Rex to capture the attention of the United States, and the first one was exported there in 1968. Indeed, one of the most famous owners was none other than Steven Spielberg, who may have been inspired by his kitty in the formation of iconic characters like E.T. and Yoda. There is no doubt that Devon Rexes look unusual enough for comparisons to be made!
Quick Facts About the Devon Rex
Devon Rexes tend to grow around 18 inches long and weigh between six and nine pounds. One of their most distinctive features is their short and wavy coat, which is fine to the touch. As for coat color, they vary from solid to shaded and tabby. And their eyes also vary from green and blue to hazel and amber. You can expect your Devon Rex to live between 9 and 15 years.
While some people believe them to be a hypoallergenic breed, it is not the coat that causes an issue, but rather the dander, urine, and saliva. If you suffer from allergies and are unsure about getting one, it is worth spending some time in one’s company before committing to anything.
Devon Rexes are known for their intelligence, high levels of energy, and playfulness. But unlike some other kitties, they like to spend long periods of time in the company of humans, so don’t expect much alone time if you choose to bring one home!
As you may have guessed, their coats don’t require a huge amount of maintenance and upkeep in comparison to other longer-haired moggies.
You may be wondering where the ‘Rex’ part of their name comes from. It is due to their curly coat. The word was coined when King Albert I of Belgium entered two curly-haired rabbits into a show, but they did not meet the standard. Rather than risk facing the king’s wrath, the judges wrote down ‘Rex’, which is Latin for king.
Things You Should Know
Now that we have gone through some of the quick facts about the breed, we can now look in more detail at some of the key areas of owning a Devon Rex to help you in your task of caring for one.
Generally, Devon Rexes are a healthy breed of cat, but there are some conditions in the breed to be wary of including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hereditary myopathy, which can cause tiredness and weakness in the muscles. High levels of inbreeding have also led to an increased risk of illnesses such as myasthenia – an autoimmune disease. Hip Dysplasia is another potential problem, which causes issues with their movement.
Two distinct blood groups separate Devon Rexes, which can lead to feline neonatal isoerythrolysis if they are mixed. This is why it is so important that breeders test the blood group before mixing. This is a serious condition that leads to red blood cell destruction when the antibodies in the kitten’s mother’s milk are consumed. In these cases, breastfeeding needs to be stopped and consultation of a vet should be swift.
As you may have already guessed, the coat of Devon Rexes leaves them more vulnerable to skin conditions which can cause discomfort and itching. Instances of baldness have also been recorded. As such, extremes in weather conditions can present a problem for your cat. You should be careful how much direct sunlight they are exposed to. Otherwise, they are at an increased risk of getting sunburnt. Similarly, you need to offer more protection when the weather outside gets colder. You can even invest in a sweater or two. Not only will this protect them from the cold, but it is a great way of keeping them super stylish! It is this type of susceptibility which leads many people to conclude that their Devon Rex is best kept as an indoor cat rather than exposing them to the risks that the outdoor elements can present. But there are other potential risks that the outside world can pose such as the spread of disease, attacks by bigger creatures such as dogs and coyotes, and dangers on the road such as getting hit by cars. Also, catnapping can be a risk if people want to snare a rare and unusual feline.
Now we come onto the important issue of feeding your Devon Rex. They are known to enjoy all sorts of different foods, so you will have to keep food stored away properly to stop them from scarfing it all down! And while this may seem to be endearing at first, you need to be especially careful that they don’t eat so much that they risk obesity. Stop before feeding your cat anything off your plate as there are some things that they cannot digest easily like chocolate, milk, and egg whites. Consuming these can lead to stomach upset and other more serious issues. Be wary that Devon Rexes love of eating has even made them curious to try non-edible and poisonous things like house plants. You may think it appropriate to clear your home of anything like this before adoption.
As with other breeds of cat, you should make sure that your Devon Rex has plenty of access to fresh water alongside their food. And you should keep the cat litter box in an entirely different location as nobody likes to ‘go’ where they eat.
Rather than allowing your cat to eat too much ‘human food’, you should give them a quality cat food packed with the right nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins. You can also offer them cat treats, but these should be extra things to enjoy rather than a central part of their diet. While Devon Rexes tend to be active enough to work off a lot of calories, you still need to be wary that they don’t put on too much weight as obesity is a very unhealthy condition in cats, but also one that is highly preventable.
For more options, check out our detailed review of Dry Cat Food and Wet Cat food.
Some owners like cats precisely because they don’t require a huge amount of effort and upkeep to look after. But Devon Rexes are much more dependent than the average cat and like to be at home with other animals and humans
Devon Rexes love to play, so it is worth having a variety of cat toys on hand for them to enjoy such as fake mice, dangling toys, and catnip balls. Make sure that you invest in good-quality toys that are not going to break easily and put your cat in harm’s way. Watch out for any loose parts which your cat could swallow as these could present a choking risk. It is worth investing in a scratching post for your cat to sharpen up their claws so they don’t do it on your furniture. Also, a cat window perch allows your cat to climb up high and see what is going on in the outside world. This breed is well known for enjoying climbing, so if you don’t provide them an appropriate outlet, there is every chance that you may find them trying to scale your curtains!
The energetic nature of Devon Rexes make them ideal for kids, and they will make great play companions as long as your child learns how to treat them nicely. Think about your own lifestyle and whether it is suitable for this breed of cat as they can get upset if you are out of the house for extended periods of time.
While Devon Rexes have a thin and brittle coat, this doesn’t mean they are weak in their general health. In fact, a cat of this breed in the peak of physical fitness will have a thin and athletic body, with strong legs that make them especially powerful when they want to jump up.
In terms of grooming, Devon Rexes are relatively straightforward and don’t need a huge amount of upkeep. A gentle weekly brush should be enough when it comes to their coat. And brushing them too often can be a problem as their fur is often sparse and brittle, so you don’t want to risk too much of it getting dislodged. Otherwise, you may notice that bald patches start to become a problem. Some people prefer to just rub them gently with a damp cloth rather than using a brush which is potentially too strong. Some Devon Rex females lose their coat have kittens, while all of them can lose them during the summer. You may notice thinning hair around their neck and side areas. As long as your car it eating and seems like their normal self, there is no reason why this should start ringing alarm bells. If not, it is worth checking in at the vet for your peace of mind. It may be a simple case of a fever or stress – or it may be something more serious which needs treatment.
You should also remain vigilant in looking after your cat’s ears. Due to their shape and size, it is very easy for dirt to gather inside, so you should get into the habit of cleaning the cat’s ears regularly. And when the sun is harsh outside, it is even worth putting sunscreen on – especially on those cats with lighter hair and skin. Look for ear cleaning products made especially for cats. Swab the area with a cotton ball and take special care if you are using a Q-tip to not delve too deep. And pay attention to bad smells as well. These are possible signs of infection. Take a look at our review of the best cat ear cleaners for more options.
The other main grooming job that you should get into the habit of doing is brushing your cat’s teeth. You can either use a finger brush or one with a handle depending on your preference and how well your cat deals with the brushing. If you start off doing this from a young age, it is much easier to keep it going as they get older. If you don’t pay attention to your cat’s oral hygiene, it is almost inevitable that they are going to suffer from some dental problems further down the line. While daily dental hygiene is best when preventing periodontal diseases, brushing their teeth on a weekly basis is certainly better than not doing it at all.
For more options head over to our guides on Cat Toothpaste and Cat Toothbrushes.
We have talked about how many people choose to keep their Devon Rex as an indoor cat, but you may sometimes want to let your kitty roam free. One good way of doing this while still offering your cat a layer of protection is by getting a large, outdoor enclosure where they can jump and climb unencumbered and not at risk of many of the threats around. It is worth reminding you once again that you should put suncream on your cat to prevent them from getting burnt if the sun is particularly strong.
We have mentioned a fair bit about the temperament of Devon Rexes already, but looking back over them again, they are well-known for their playful personality, which makes them great companions of humans, as well as other cats. Don’t be surprised if they want to sit with you all the time and even climb up on your shoulders for a ride. Since their coat is so thin, they are likely to enjoy the warmth of another, fluffier pet. Whether you have another pet or not, it is worth offering them a warm cat bed with blankets to curl up in. Of course, this is only a general overview and all cats are bound to vary from individual to individual with their individual personality traits.
Devon Rexes make great family cats as they enjoy busy households and often like to play with children. Unlike some other cats which would be nearly impossible to train, you may even be able to get yours to walk in front of you on a leash with enough patience and the right training strategy! However, you may struggle to get them to knuckle down and learn the tricks that you want to teach them. But with enough persistence, you may even be able to enjoy games of fetch together!
While some breeds of cats are naturally very vocal in their personality, the same it not true of the Devon Rex. But you will probably find them crying out when the prospect of food is not too far away! While you may occasionally find your Devon Rex curling up on their own, they often like to be an active member of the household who are not left out of what is going on.
There are plenty of reasons why a Devon Rex would make such a great pet. They are lovable, playful, friendly, and family-oriented. However, you need to have the right kind of household to be ready to pay them enough attention. In some ways, their dependent nature makes it more like you are adopting a dog than a cat. But you do save time on them not needing so much grooming. Ultimately, it is worth being sure before you bring one home.
If you are planning to get your cat from a breeder, make sure that you choose one who is trustworthy. If possible, get a personal recommendation or check out any online reviews if they are available. And you should always have your cat checked over by a vet to ensure that they are happy that there are no underlying health problems. It is less likely that you are going to find a Devon Rex up for adoption, but this is sometimes the case, and it is obviously a worthwhile thing to do to give a cat a good home who is likely not to have had one in the past.
- About the Devon Rex – CFA