Cornish Rex Cats 101
The Cornish Rex cat is a study in contrasts. Its fine, delicate-looking bones give the impression of a fragile animal, but the Cornish Rex is generally very playful and active, even behaving (and sometimes looking) more like a dog than a cat. Its whip-like tail and large, pointed ears have earned it comparisons to dog breeds like the whippet, and the Cornish Rex is happy to accommodate with its fondness for games like fetch and catch. How did this striking breed develop? What is it like as a pet? And where on Earth did it get such a distinct appearance?
The First Cornish Rex
Even though the Cornish Rex looks like it might have been among the first domestic house cats, it's actually a relatively new breed. In 1950, a cream-colored male kitten was born to a barn cat in Cornwall, England
. This kitten was not like its siblings, though, as its tightly curled hair and long, thin legs made it look more like a Rex rabbit, hence the name. Kallibunker, as he was called, became even more unique as the weeks passed and he developed his thin, whip-like tail, giant ears that appeared to have been stolen from a bat, and a narrow, egg-shaped head with high cheekbones and a slender nose.
Kallibunker was bred with his mother and produced two kittens with the same features (try not to think about that too much). Accordingly, geneticists determined the proud new father's unusual appearance was the result of a naturally occurring mutation caused by a recessive gene. Essentially, this means both parents must carry the gene to produce offspring that express that genetic trait. After some trial and error involving mating with other breeds like Russian Blues and American Shorthairs, the cats developed a gene pool diverse enough to support the new breed.
Physical Traits of the Cornish Rex
As mentioned above, Cornish Rexes are visually stunning with their rows of short, curly hair, thin tails, oval heads, and comically large ears. They typically weigh between 6 and 10 pounds, and their short hair means minimal shedding and grooming that usually takes no more than simply running your hand gently over the cat's coat. These cats usually have gold, green, or hazel eyes, and their coats can be as varied as nearly every other breed. They can be white, black, brown, cream, reddish-brown, and have patterns like tabbies and tortoiseshells, among others.
Personality Traits of the Cornish Rex
True to their dog-like nature, Cornish Rexes are notoriously friendly and outgoing
, even around strangers, making them excellent choices for families with young children or people who often have visitors over, as this intelligent, inquisitive cat is a natural entertainer and will be among the first to greet newcomers.
Cornish Rex Facts:
- Learns quickly and can be taught tricks and games like fetch and catch.
- Is usually fairly quiet and has a soft, sweet meow.
- Affectionate and usually happy to accept a cuddle.
- Develops strong attachments to its human family and will follow them around the house.
- Its long toes and adept paws are well-suited to opening drawers and cabinet doors, and its intelligence means if it sees you hide something in a cupboard, it's probably going to figure out a way to get the door open.
- Its short, thin coat makes the breed particularly vulnerable to sunburn, so the cats must be kept from spending too much time outdoors or in direct sunlight.
- That same short coat also means the cat gets chilled easily, so consider a small pet sweater during cold weather to keep your feline friend nice and toasty.
Do you have a Cornish Rex? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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