If you are reading this, you are probably considering owning a Cornish Rex cat. So what are these unusual looking cats like as pets, and what can you expect from owning one? Let us take a look at the breed and its characteristics.
There have been some early historical reports of cats with bristly, curly, or wavy hair. But the Cornish Rex was the first of these cats to be turned into a successful breed. In 1950 a curly haired kitten appeared in a litter of kittens born in Bodmin in Cornwall. This cream male was named Kallibunker, and he had tight curls, a light, foreign body-type, long legs, and large ears. The kitten was bred back to his mother to confirm that the the coat was a mutation rather than caused by environmental factors, and a litter of three kittens resulted, two of which had the same curly coat. Test breedings confirmed that the mutation was recessive, which meant that two curly coated cats would always produce curly coated kittens.
The Cornish Rex, as the new breed was named, was far from being an instant success, and at one point only one single un-neutered example of the breed existed in the UK. However, a few Cornish Rexes had previously been exported, and an example of the breed was imported to re-establish the breed in the UK. In 1965 the GCCF approved a Provisional standard for the breed, and by 1967 the Cornish Rex had Championship recognition in the UK
The curl is not the only thing which is odd about the Cornish coat. While a normal, straight coat contains guard, awn, and down hairs, the Cornish coat lacks guard hairs. As a result it feels very soft. The look of the Cornish Rex is distinctly foreign, with a wedge-shaped head and mussel-shell ears. The body is slender, of medium length, and carried high on long legs. If you have a Cornish Rex, it will certainly look very distinctive and different from all other cats. It is upo to you whether or not you like 'different' cats.
Perhaps due to outcrosses to Siamese and Burmese cats in the early days of the breed, these cats resemble the Orientals in their personality. So this is a high energy breed, which never seems to grow up. If you own a Cornish Rex, it is likely to be playful, adventurous, and always on the move. , enjoying climbing and running around. This is not a cat for you if you live in a small flat and want a relaxing pet! All that activity needs fuel, and these cats eat a surprising amount for their size. Indeed, many owners allow them to 'free-feed' without any problems. And they love people; Cornish Rexes have earned the nickname 'Velcro cays' for their tendency to be found attached to their owners at every opportunity.
Because of their short coat, Cornish Rexes are easy-care cats. However, the coat is somewhat sparse, meaning that the cats do not do well in cold weather. Many people keep their Cornish Rexes indoors for this reason, and also due to a fear that such a distinctive looking cat may easily be stolen. But if they are not to escape, you r house will need to be well catproofed. And because the breed has so much energy, you will need to supply climbing frames, toys, and company, in order to make sure that your cat does not become depressed or naughty or both. This is not a breed that will be happy to be left alone to snooze all day.
Many people want one of the Rex breeds as they have heard that they are suitable for allergy sufferers. This is true of dog breeds with curly coats, such as poodles. Allergies to cats, however, are almost always due to the protein Fel D1, which is produced in the hair and skin, but is also in the saliva that a cat leaves all over its coat every time it grooms itself. So the coat type has no real influence on allergic responses. But having said that, any cat with a finer coat will shed less hair, and so provoke fewer problems. Some owners find that wiping their cat daily with a damp cloth can reduce allergies. So there is a good chance that a Cornish Rex, with its minimal hair, will cause rather less in the way of allergic reactions than some other breeds. But it would be as well to check this first by testing your response to contact with a Cornish Rex, if this is your main reason for considering the breed.
One of the enjoyable things about owning a pedigree cat is that you can take it to cat shows and meet other people who own cats like yours, exchanging views and perhaps even making new friends. The Cornish Rex is an easy cat to show, as its sparse, curly coat needs little in the way of grooming, and baths are rarely necessary unless the cat is white or has a lot of white in his coat. However, you will need to make sure that your cat enjoys showing, as some of the more energetic examples of the breed are not keen on being kept in a pen all day. So if you intend to show your Cornish Rex, get it used to the show world at an early age, and hopefully it will come to enjoy being shown.
So should you own a Cornish Rex cat? If you want a distinctive looking, unusual cat, with a friendly, extrovert personality, then the answer is definitely yes! But if you are rarely at home, cannot provide much space and time for your cat, and prefer more laid back breeds, this may not be the cat for you. And if you are looking for a hypo-allergenic breed, having a Cornish Rex may help, but do check this out in advance of buying one. And whatever cat you decide to have, the best of luck with your new feline friend.