Cornish Rex

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Oct. 30, 2009

The Cornish Rex is a strikingly unusual cat, which looks like somewhat of a mix between the Egyptian statues of Bastet (the ancient solar and war goddess) and an alien from another planet. Despite its appearance, however, it has a friendly personality.

Physical Characteristics

In addition to its striking expression, the Cornish Rex's soft, wavy hair makes this cat stand out from other breeds. It is small to medium in size with an egg-shaped head, long legs, and large ears.

People who are allergic to cat’s hair may prefer the Cornish Rex as it sheds less hair than other cats and is considered “hypoallergenic.” Additionally, this cat comes in a variety of colors.

Personality and Temperament

The Cornish Rex would like nothing better than to have fun and frolic about. It is an affectionate, attention-seeking breed that bonds well with its human family and is easy to take care of. However, this cat is not for the busy jet-setter, as it tends to become mischievous and naughty when it is ignored or overlooked.

The Cornish is extremely active at dinner time and may even insist on sharing dinner from the same plate as its owner. Extremely agile, they will leap on to the top of cupboards or onto high shelves. They love to fetch things and may ask to play fetch again and again.

History and Background

As their name suggests, the breed originated in Cornwall, England, in the early 1950s when Serena, a tortoiseshell and white domestic, gave birth to a litter of five kittens. The litter contained a curly-coated, orange and white, male kitten, which Nina Ennismore, Serena's owner, named Kallibunker. Realizing his short, curly hair and long, lithe body was unusual, she contacted a British geneticist who confirmed that the fur of this new kitten was a mutation, and that it bore a resemblance to Rex Rabbit fur. Acting on the advice of this expert, Ennismore crossed Kallibunker with his mother.

Three kittens were born out of this union: one straight-haired and two sporting curly hair. After a second mating, more curly-haired kittens were produced. As this new breed seemed to resemble the curly-coated Astrex rabbit, it was given the name of Cornish Rex.

As the gene pool was small, breed­ers were forced to cross them with other breeds to maintain genetic diversity. Siamese, Havana Browns, American Shorthairs, and domestic shorthairs were among the breeds used. This resulted in a variety of colors and patterns hitherto not seen.

The Cat Fanciers' Association accepted the Cornish Rex for Championship Status in 1964.

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