On a farm in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall England July 21 1950 a tortoiseshell and white domestic cat gave birth to 5 kittens. In this litter was a strange curly coated orange and white male kitten the owner Nina Ennismore named Killibunker.
Little Killibunker was very different from his littermates. He had short curly hair, big ears, skinny tail and a wedge face as well as a long lithe body. The owner was interested in this strange little cat and consulted a British geneticist who agreed the little cat’s fur resembled that of the Astrex rabbits. On the advice of the geneticist, Killibunker was bred to his mother. This breeding produced a litter with only one straight coated kitten and two curly coated ones. Delighted with the success, Killibunker was again bred to his mother and more curly coated kittens were produced. This new breed was named Cornish Rex because of the resemblance to the Astrex or rex rabbit.
In 1957 two Cornish Rexes arrived in the United States. Unfortunately one died shortly after arrival. The other one, La Morna Cove, was pregnant, sired by one of Killibunkers offspring and produced a litter of Rexes. La Morna and her little family became the foundation for the Cornish Rexes in America.
Because the gene pool was so small, breeders started out crossing the Rex with Siamese, Havana Browns and the American domestic shorthair. Used to maintain genetic diversity and a wide selection of colors and patterns at first, out crossing is no longer allowed because there is enough diversity to keep the breed healthy. In 1964, the Cat Fanciers Association accepted the Cornish Rex for championship and all North American registries accept them now.
The Cornish Rex can be hard if not impossible to ignore when they are in a sociable mood, which is most of the time! They will even steal food off your plate while you are eating! Very adept climbers, leapers, and sprinters, they are usually found up on top of something. Some enjoy retrieving things and will bring things back to you to throw over and over again.
Because their coat is so short, some allergic people can own them, because the allergenic protein called FEL D1, found in the cat’s saliva, is not deposited in large amounts on their short coats. Also they don’t shed as much as other cats, so there is less saliva covered hair lying around. Because of the short coat, they can be bathed easily and they dry quickly.
If you are looking for an interactive cat that is very friendly, loving and sweet, check out a Cornish Rex.
By: Linda Eastabrooks
Former AKC Breeder