In 1959, a stray cat under the care of Miss Devon Cox had given birth to a rather odd looking curly-haired kitten, the sire thought to be a curly-haired tomcat seen in the area. Enchanted by the kitten’s elf-like features and wavy curls, miss Cox named the kitten Kirlee. Kirlee, was to be the founding father of the unique and wonderful breed of cats known today as the Devon Rex.
Today’s Devon Rex maintain a look true to their patriarch – very large ears set low on the sides of the head, a face much wider than it is tall, and large, inquisitive eyes with a short slightly upturned nose. A coat of loose waves and curls adorns a strong yet wiry body. These strikingly unusual features exemplify a breed whose outgoing personality, intelligence, friendliness and highly inquisitive behavior are as unique as it physical attributes. A relatively new breed, the Devon Rex was carefully crossbred to American and British Shorthairs in order to enlarge and strengthen the gene pool.
Medium sized cats, adult Devons average six to nine pounds, with males typically heavier than females. While an even, full coat of loose curls are ideal for show cats, the Devon Rex hair coat varies greatly ranging from a shaggy mop of loose curls in some, to a thin suede-like coat in others that may leave some regions nearly bare. The coat may vary throughout the life of a Devon Rex, with some kittens shedding much of changing seasonally in dynamic fashion. Even though their body temperature is no different than other cats, many Devons are surprisingly warm to the touch due to a lighter, less insulating hair coat. As on ewould expect, Devons tend to be heat seekers, and are often found lounging on televisions, computer monitors and heater vents, or backing in the sun. On chilly evenings, Devons often sneak under the covers to stay warm and share body heat with their favorite people.
The Devon Rex personality has been aptly described as a cross between a cat, a monkey, and a squirrel. Devons are very active, playful and get into everything Devons are strong jumpers allowing very few areas that are unacceptable to them that will not be explored and walked upon. It is not ucommon to find devons walking along railings or perched on the tops of open doors. Devons are very people oriented, and most readily invite themselves along for every activity, whether perched on a shoulder, lap, or wherever they can be closest to people. They are relentless food moochers, with anything they aren’t supposed to be into only slightly less appealing than anything one may be eating eating. Ineed, it is not wise to leave any food itmes on counters or otherwise unattended in the presence of a Devon Rex.
Devons tend to be low maintenance pets in terms of husbandry. Their large ears occasionally require cleaning, and the corners of the eyes sometimes collect eye crud, but otherwise a quick shampoo and towel dry or just a wipe down with a damp cloth or baby wipe are all the grooming Devons require. Despite popular myth, Devons do shed to a small degree, although their unique coat may make the shed hair less obtrusive and allergenic than that of many cats. As such, Devons have gained a reputation as being hypoallergenic” but this varies according to an individual’s personal allergies. While some people with animal allergies tolerate Devons very well, anyone with allergy issues should arrange to handle a Devon before considering adopting one.
While all cats live more disease and accident free lives being kept indoors, Devons should especially kept indoors. Their naturally trusting and fearless nature make them easy targets for theft, at risk for getting lost, and make them prone to falling or getting hit by a car. Devons need appropriate scratching posts and other scratching surfacefor normal scratching behavior. With this provided, Devons are rarely destructive and often get along in homes without owners even having to consider the touch decision to have a declaw procedure.
Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder and Chief Editor, Web-DVM.net
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital
Article updated 8/18/2012