The Devon Rex is an outgoing, intelligent breed that thrives in a busy family environment. These cats are devoted to their humans and love attention, warm laps, and games of fetch. If you're looking for a loyal sidekick with an adorably unique appearance, the Devon is the breed for you.
Devon Rex History
The Devon Rex originated near an abandoned tin mine in Buckfastleigh, Devon, England. In 1960, Beryl Cox took in a stray female tortoiseshell. That cat gave birth to a litter of kittens sired by a curly-coated feral cat that lived in the mine. One of the kittens had a wavy coat similar to his father's. Cox decided to keep the kitten and named him Kirlee.
Several years later, Cox became aware of another curly-coated cat named Kallibunker that lived in a neighboring county. She also learned efforts were underway to preserve the gene mutation (known as a Rex mutation) that caused this coat type. So, she contacted one of the breeders and ultimately sold Kirlee to him so his genes could contribute to the new breed, the Cornish Rex. But it turned out that Kirlee's variation of the Rex gene was different than Kallibunker's. Thus, a new breed was born—the Devon Rex.
The first Devon Rex came to the United States in 1968. Initially, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) didn't accept the Devon as a standalone breed but instead grouped it with the Cornish Rex. After years of lobbying by Devon breeders, however, the CFA relented. In 1979, they accepted the Devon Rex as its own breed and in 1983 gave it Championship status.
Devon Rex Traits
The Devon Rex is medium-sized with a curly coat. These cats have muscular bodies, long, sturdy legs, and a long, fine tail. Their elfish faces and large ears have earned them the nickname "pixies of the cat world."
Coat and Coloring
The Devon's full-bodied coat is soft and ranges from wavy to curly. The hair is shortest on the head, ears, neck, paws, chest, and stomach, curling most prominently on the back and tail—where it's the longest. Devons also have short and crinkled whiskers and eyebrows. The coat can come in any combination of colors and patterns.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Devon Rex have wedge-shaped heads, prominent cheekbones, and enormous ears that sit low on the head. Their ear shape is wide at the base and tapers to a rounded tip covered with fine fur. Very large, wide-set oval eyes complete their unique appearance.
Devon Rex Temperament
The Devon Rex is a fun-loving breed that makes a wonderful playmate for kids and gets along with other pets. They like to follow their humans around to make sure they never miss out on the action. A busy household with plenty of people to interact with is the best fit for these social cats.
Devons are known for their mischievous personalities. And their jumping skills. They will frequently launch themselves atop a high shelf or worm their way into new spots that catch their eye. To a Devon, every place in the home is worthy of exploration.
The Devon's intelligence and playful nature make them an easy breed to train. They can learn tricks and enjoy games of hide-and-seek or fetch. Entertaining their humans is one of their favorite pastimes. But they do get bored if left alone too long, and that can lead to destructive behavior.
After a day of antics, Devons love nothing more than to relax next to their family members. It's common for them to perch on a shoulder, curl up in a lap, or snuggle under a blanket—wherever you're likely to hear their mighty purrs.
Devon Rex Care
Devon Rex require a high-quality diet. Because nutritional needs vary for kittens, adults, and senior cats, be sure to choose a formula that's age-appropriate for your pet.
Devons are known for having a hearty appetite. So, it's important to measure out meals to avoid overfeeding. And don't forget to account for treats—as a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of your cat's calories.
Cats also need access to fresh, clean water at all times.
The Devon's short coat doesn't require a lot of grooming. They do shed, but not as much as many other breeds. As a result, people who typically experience cat allergies sometimes report milder symptoms when around a Devon. Because of this, you might assume they are hypoallergenic. But the breed still produces the allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction.
Devon's giant ears can be magnets for debris. As such, they demand regular cleaning to remove dirt and wax build-up. Routine nail clipping is also important, as nails that get too long are more likely to snag on something and become torn or damaged. Overgrown nails can also grow into your cat's paw pads, leading to pain or infection. Besides clipping, providing a scratching post will help keep their nails in good shape and satisfy their instinct to scratch.
Finally, Devons should have a dental care routine that includes at-home teeth brushing and professional dental exams and cleanings.
Some breeds are more susceptible to certain health conditions. Devon Rex may be more prone to developing Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This condition decreases the heart's efficiency and can lead to other issues. Your veterinarian is your best resource for discussing this condition and other health concerns for your cat.
Devon Rex Genetic Health Conditions
Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (Discovered in the Devon Rex and Sphynx)
Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (CMS) is a condition that causes muscle weakness and fatigue.
With more than 45 health tests, Wisdom Panel™ Complete for Cats screens for these and other important genetic conditions—allowing you to better plan for your cat's lifelong care.
Reviewed February 23, 2021 by Annette Louviere, DVM