Breed profile: Cornish Rex

Bi-coloured Cornish Rex
Bi-coloured Cornish Rex

Sleek and athletic, the Cornish Rex is not called the Greyhound of cats for nothing. They are true acrobats, but also very sociable and affectionate. Best known for their fine and wavy coats, the Cornish is a favourite with cat lovers, especially those who do not like to be swamped by cat hair.

The Cornwall connection

The father of the breed is a cream-coloured ‘curly’ cat named Kallibunker who was born on a farm in Cornwall in the 1950s. His breeder, Nina Ennismore, also bred ‘rex’ rabbits and therefore immediately realised that Kallibunker was the result of a genetic mutation. She bred him back to his mother and produced two more curly-coated kittens. Descendants of these were later bred to British Shorthairs and Burmese. In 1957 the breed first arrived in the USA, where they were crossed with Siamese and Oriental cats, probably the reason for their long, whippy tails and large ears.

Washboard waves

Unlike most other breeds who have three layers of hair (outer, middle and undercoat), the Cornish Rex only has one – an undercoat (down hair). These are soft and only 1cm long, with the result that Cornish Rex cats shed very little hair. Their hair is also unique in that the coats are wavy. These cats do not need much grooming, but are best kept indoors only as they do not have much protection against the elements.

Adore human company

A Cornish just loves everybody, but as an owner you must be able to give your cat a lot of attention when required. They are ideal for people who regard their cats as part of the family – they are highly people-oriented cats. They love nothing more than to spend time with their humans. Though they are not docile lap cats, they will sit on your lap to rest after an energetic game. Although they want to be the centre of attention, they do easily share a home with other pets.

Grooming and care

Cornish Rexes are not much work when it comes to grooming. A quick brush with a soft bristle brush or a quick once-over with a rubber glove once a week should keep the coat in tip top condition. Ears should also be cleaned on a regular basis


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