“Are those cats from outer space?!” No, Cornish Rex cats are not from outer space and, in spite of their resemblance to ancient Egyptian statues, they are not from Egypt either. As their name implies, these cats originated in Cornwall, England, where they first appeared in a litter of barn cats born about 1950.
In appearance, Cornish Rex cats are a study in curves starting most noticeably with their coat which ideally falls in washboard waves. The coat is very short, lies close to the body and is incredibly soft to the touch, prompting comparisons to cut velvet, karakul lamb, rabbit fur or silk. In fact, it feels like a Cornish Rex coat and nothing else is the same. There is even variation among individuals within the breed.
In addition to the coat, this breed has a distinct head and body type. Large ears are set high on a comparatively small, egg-shaped head with high cheekbones, hollow cheeks, and a high-bridged Roman nose and strong chin. The body has been compared to a Whippet dog’s because of its arched back, barrel chest, small waist and very long, fine legs. In spite of their dainty appearance, these small to medium sized cats are extremely hard-bodied and muscular, using their well developed hips and long legs for fast starts and stops, quick turns and high jumps.
In personality, the Cornish Rex is extremely affectionate and people-oriented. They are also active cats whose kitten-like antics last for their lifetime and who can be very inventive in their play. Favorite Cornish Rex games are fetch, catch and even “discus,” in which the cat uses its hand-like paw to pick up and toss a small object. In spite of their sophisticated, elegant appearance, Cornish Rex cats are anything but cool, aloof or dignified. They are perfect pets for the owner who wants active cats to participate in family life.
Because of their extremely short, fine textured coat, many people have the impression that the Cornish Rex does not shed and is hypoallergenic. This is not strictly true. All animals are constantly renewing their coats as old hairs are replaced by new ones. While Cornish Rex hairs are not easy to find lying on the furniture, they are there and owners will find them in the dryer filter and clinging to some fabrics. Certainly, by comparison to some other cats, the shedding is minimal. Even so, most allergic people are bothered by the dander (dead skin cells) and the saliva, both of which are present in Cornish Rex cats. Policies concerning allergy sales vary from breeder to breeder and potential buyers should realize each breeder does what he or she feels is in the cats’ best interest.
Pricing on Cornish Rex depends on type, applicable markings and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National or Regional winning parentage (NW or RW) or of Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The DM title is achieved by the dam (mother) having produced five CFA grand champion/premier or DM offspring, or sire (father) having produced fifteen CFA grand champion/premier (alter) or DM offspring. Usually breeders make kittens available between twelve and sixteen weeks of age. After twelve weeks, kittens have had their basic inoculations and developed the physical and social stability needed for a new environment, showing, or being transported by air. Keeping such a rare treasure indoors, neutering or spaying and providing acceptable surfaces (e.g. scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery) are essential elements for maintaining a healthy, long and joyful life.
Text: Catherine Ash
Last Updated: Thursday, June 11, 2009