Devon Rex

Janelle Leeson
By Janelle Leeson. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Sep. 26, 2023
two gray and cream devon rex cats with blue eyes snuggling and looking at the camera

In This Article

General Care

Have you heard of the curly-coated rex cats? Surprisingly, each feline in the rex cat breed family,  which includes the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, and Selkirk Rex, is unrelated.

"Each rex is a completely different breed that developed independently from different spontaneous mutations," says all-breed cat judge Teresa Keiger. While every cat’s personality is different, the Devon Rex stands out among the rex breeds as a particularly people-oriented and friendly feline companion.

Originating in England, the Devon Rex flaunts high cheekbones and large, flaring ears set atop a small, curl-covered frame. Their looks and charming personality are sure to win over your heart. In fact, you just might want two.

Caring for a Devon Rex

Devon Rex cats are fairly small cats, with an average weight of 6–9 pounds. They’re often called the Poodle of the cat world. One look and you’ll see the resemblance: Their hair grows in silky curls and rippling waves, an effect called “rexing.” 

"Devon Rex love to be with their people," Keiger says. And while you're away, they wouldn't mind another furry companion to keep them entertained.

Like their curled canine companions, Devon Rex cats are also low-shedding. And while they are considered to be a hypoallergenic cat breed, cat dander and saliva also cause us to itch and sneeze, so there’s really no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic feline.

Devon Rex Health Issues

All Devon Rex kittens descend from a single cat: a curly-coated male named Kirlee. Despite their small gene pool, they are a relatively healthy breed with an average lifespan of 9–15 years. That said, it’s never a bad idea to consider pet insurance for your new Devon Rex kitten

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common heart disease in Devon Rex cats—in fact, it’s the most common heart disease in all cats. However, the condition can go undetected in its early stages. As the disease progresses, cats may experience coughing, breathing difficulties, lethargy, and other symptoms that can eventually lead to heart failure.

The reassuring news is that breeding cat parents can be genetically tested for HCM, which can help prevent the condition in kittens. Ask your reputable Devon Rex breeder for testing results. If you're unsure whether your Rex has been tested, at-home DNA tests may also be used.

Early detection is vital, so pet parents should consider having their Devon Rex cats tested for HCM.

Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic health condition that causes cats to develop cysts in their kidneys, leading to irreversible kidney damage. Cats affected by PKD may experience increased thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, muscle wasting, and weight loss. If you notice any PKD symptoms, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Before purchasing a Devon Rex kitten, ask your breeder if the parents have been tested for PKD. Like HCM, kittens that haven't been previously tested for PKD can be genetically tested using at-home DNA kits. 

Hip Dysplasia

Devon Rex cats are generally an active bunch. A change in their physical activity—such as limping, avoiding the stairs, or no longer squatting in their litter box (and, often, accidents outside the litter box)—could be a sign of hip dysplasia.

Cats with hip dysplasia are born with a poorly aligned hip joint that is too loose. As the bones slip in and out of place over time, cats can experience pain caused by inflammation, scar tissue, and eventually arthritis. Managing hip dysplasia includes weight management, a joint-healthy diet, and surgery in severe cases.

Luxating Patella

Luxating patella is another genetic condition that can disrupt your cat's daily jaunts. Cats with luxating patella are born with a kneecap (patella) that moves out of its normal position (luxates). Over time, this can cause pain and mobility issues as the kneecap slides and inflames the joint, leading to pain and premature arthritis.

Managing luxating patella in cats typically includes weight management, a joint-healthy diet, and possibly alternative pain relief therapies. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

What To Feed a Devon Rex

Devon Rex cats require a nutritionally complete diet meant for their current life stage. For instance, Devon Rex kittens should eat food formulated specifically for growth or all life stages. When they’re around 1 year old, kittens should switch to a food formulated for adults.

As your cat reaches their senior years—anywhere from 7–12 years of age—ask your veterinarian if they could benefit from a senior diet.

How To Feed a Devon Rex

The Devon Rex should be fed two to three times a day. If your cat eats too quickly and regurgitates their food (rex cats are known for their love of food!), try using a slow feeder to elongate mealtime, keep them engaged, and ward off boredom.

How Much Should You Feed a Devon Rex?

It's important not to overfeed your Devon Rex—despite their big, oval eyes that may try to tell you otherwise. If you're unsure how much to feed your cat, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you determine the right amount of food to give your cat based on age, lifestyle, health, and ideal weight. 

Nutritional Tips for Devon Rex Cats

When choosing a high-quality cat food meeting the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) recommendations for your cat's age, you can feel good knowing your cat is getting the nutrients and vitamins they require.

That said, cats with certain health conditions may benefit from supplements. For instance, cats prone to joint conditions (such as the Devon Rex) or aging cats with arthritis may benefit from joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Talk with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your cat’s diet.  

Behavior and Training Tips for Devon Rex Cats

Devon Rex Personality and Temperament

Devon Rex cats have been described as Poodle-like, not just in their appearance but also for their happy-go-lucky nature, love for their human counterparts, and intelligence that has long impressed their caretakers. 

“They’re funny cats,” Keiger says. Devon Rex have a daily agenda of turning any home object into a toy, staying on the heels of their humans, and generally being goofballs. It’s no wonder they seek a warm lap to cuddle in after a busy day. 

Being one of the friendliest cat breeds around, the Devon Rex makes an ideal companion for children or other pets. Just be sure to take the time needed for proper introductions.  

Devon Rex Behavior

Devon Rex cats are not known for being independent. In fact, they are quite the opposite. When you bring home a Devon Rex, you're signing up for your own little shadow. They can be found perched on your shoulder, working hard on your keyboard, or peeking out from under the paper you're trying to read.

This makes a Devon Rex an ideal patient at the vet, since they’re not overly picky about who is giving them attention. However, it’s important to note that Devon Rex cats do not like to be left alone for long periods of time

Devon Rex Training 

Devon Rex cats are highly trainable and eager to learn, according to the Devon Rex Breed Club. Fun fact: Kirlee, the original Devon Rex cat, was a natural performer that could walk on a tightrope and fetch toys.

Today's Devon Rex cats share Kirlee's eagerness to please and entertain their pet parents, even if walking on a tightrope may not be your kitty’s first trick. With positive reinforcement training, you can teach your Devon Rex to do a variety of other fun activities, such as fist bumping, recall, and more.

Fun Activities for Devon Rex Cats

Devon Rex Grooming Guide

The short, fuzzy coats of the Devon Rex come in almost any coat color imaginable: black, brown, white, tortoiseshell, calico, and tabby, just to name a few. In addition to routinely brushing your cat’s teeth with a cat-safe toothpaste and toothbrush, here’s what you’ll need to do to keep your Devon Rex happy and healthy.

Skin Care

Devon Rex cats have curly fur that lacks guard hairs (the longer, top layer of protective fur), which can make their skin appear greasy. To keep their skin clean and healthy, bathe your cat with a cat-safe shampoo. But be careful not to overdo it: Their curls are fragile and can break with too much bathing.

Coat Care

The curly Devon Rex is known for spreading love rather than loose fur, but they still appreciate a gentle grooming session. While they shed less than other cat breeds, they do still shed. 

Eye Care 

While their expressive eyes are a striking feature, your Devon Rex’s eyes don't require any special care beyond routinely checking that they remain clear and bright. Any unusual discharge should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Ear Care

Despite their large size, Devon Rex cats' ears don't require special care. However, if you notice your cat pawing at their ears, or if unusual discharge or odor coming from their ears, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Considerations for Pet Parents 

The Devon Rex is a charming breed cherished for their intelligence, affection, and unique appearance. They’re relatively low-maintenance, making them a good choice for first-time cat parents.

However, there are a few things prospective Devon Rex cat parents should consider before bringing home this sociable feline. For instance, the Devon Rex breed is very social and doesn’t like being left alone. They are also active and playful, so they need plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained.

Devon Rex cats are prone to certain health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and heart disease. It’s important to choose a reputable breeder who tests their cats for these conditions before breeding them. 

Devon Rex FAQs

Are Devon Rex cats good pets?

Devon Rex cats are generally good pets known for being friendly, affectionate, and playful. They enjoy interacting with people and other pets, and they are relatively low-maintenance. Devon Rex cats are also a good choice for families with children, as they are typically gentle. 

Are Devon Rex cats hypoallergenic?

No cat breed is truly hypoallergenic. That said, Devin Rex cats can make a good choice for some people with allergies because they tend to shed less than other breeds.

How much does a Devon Rex kitten cost?

The Devon Rex price typically starts around $1,800 for a kitten from a reputable breeder.

What’s the difference between a Cornish Rex and a Devon Rex?

Though both breeds originated in England and have similar curly coats, the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex are completely unrelated breeds. The Devon Rex has a rounder face than the Cornish Rex, and their curly coat tends to be a bit shorter. 

Featured Image: Getty/insonnia

Janelle Leeson


Janelle Leeson

Freelance Writer

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