Devon Rex

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is a breed of cat that emerged in England during the 1960s. Known for their odd, striking appearance and playful, companionable nature, the Devon is a favourite among pet owners.

Breed history and information

Discovery and relations

The Devon Rex is a breed of cat with a curly, very soft short coat similar to that of the Cornish Rex.

The first Devon was discovered in Buckfastleigh, Devon, UK in 1960 amongst a litter of feral kittens near a disused tin mine. The breed was initially thought to be linked with the Cornish Rex; however, test mating proved otherwise. Cats have three types of hair: guard hair, awn hair, and down hair. The Devon Rex's coat is unusual because there is little guard hair (see Cornish Rex and Sphynx for more information on hair-deficient genetics in cats).

Appearance

The curl in Devon Rex fur is caused by a different mutation and gene than that of the Cornish Rex and German Rex, and breeding of a Devon with either of those cats results in cats without rexed (curled) fur. Devons, which are medium sized cats, are often called "pixie cats" or "alien cats" because of their unique appearance. Their uncommonly large ears are set low on the sides of their wide heads, their eyes are large, and their noses are slightly upturned. Unlike most cats their whiskers are very short and often curled to such an extent that it may appear as if they have no whiskers. Their body type is distinctly lightly-built. Their long, sturdy legs are well suited for long leaps, and their toes are unusually large. Devon Rex cats come in all colours. The ears are large and slightly rounded.

Behaviour

The typical Devon is active, mischievous, playful, and very people-oriented. They have been described as a cross between a cat, a dog and a monkey (or, more famously, as "a monkey in a cat suit"). They are high-jumpers and will try to occupy any space large enough to admit them. With this trait, they are often found in odd nooks and crannies of a closet, shelf, or laundry basket. Devons prefer to be in high places and will go to great lengths to get to the highest spot in a room. They are relatively easy to take care of. Most Devons also have one central person to whom they devote their love, and on whom they will most often lie and rub. They like to playfully nip, and love to play throughout their lives.

They are a very intelligent breed; the typical Devon Rex can be trained to walk on a lead, fetch or perform all manner of tricks usually associated with canines, like jump, heel and tag to name a few.

Another common trait is their show of affection: they have a particular penchant for being close to the head or neck of their human companions and can often be found mounted upon ones shoulder or nestled into the cranny created by the neck and shoulder when one is prone.

Role in allergy control

The Devon Rex breed is often marketed as a cat with which someone with cat-related allergies can easily co-exist. It is true that their missing layer of hair and very low amounts of shedding help toward this; they are hypoallergenic, but are not nonallergenic.

Allergic reactions from cats are not the result of hair length, the true culprit is a glyco-protein known as Fel d1, produced in the sebaceous glands of the skin, saliva, and urine. Most people who have cat allergies are reacting to this protein in cat saliva and cat dander: when the cat cleans its fur, the saliva dries and is transformed into dust which people breathe in. All cats groom, and so a Devon Rex cat will still produce a reaction in people who are allergic to cats. However, they are easier for someone with slight allergies or who is on the right allergy medication to own. Note that, for more serious allergies, there are several breeds theorized to lack or produce less of the offending protein, see Cat allergy.

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