Let's talk Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex, named for their coat’s resemblance to that of the rex rabbit, are affectionate, people-oriented, and highly active cats, whose kitten-like antics last a lifetime.

Fetch and catch are truly among the breed’s favourite games and they may even use their agile paws to pick up and toss small objects. That means: you should be prepared for a high-energy cat. Although it has a fragile appearance, the Cornish Rex is a very sturdy breed, they are perfect pets for the owner who wants active cats to participate in family life. 

Official name: Cornish Rex

Origins: United Kingdom

Black and white portrait of a Cornish Rex

 

Shedding level

Low

Warm weather? Medium
Energy Level * High Family Pet? *  Very high
Compatibility with other pets
Very high


* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.
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Illustration of a Cornish Rex
Male
20 - 30 cm Height
3.5 - 4.5 kg Weight
Female
20 - 30 cm Height
2 - 3.5 kg Weight

 

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult  1 to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  12+ years

White Cornish Rex captured mid-run across a lawn

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Get to know the Cornish Rex

All you need to know about the breed

Many words are used to describe the Cornish Rex, from unique and avant-garde to quirky and out of the ordinary. No matter your qualifier-of-choice, you can be sure the breed’s striking appearance has been integral to their broad appeal around the world.

The Cornish Rex has a slender, graceful body set on high, straight legs. Whilst the breed may look delicate, they have a hard muscle tone that contributes to their high-energy levels and athleticism (take note: this is a cat that needs a lot of activity). Physically speaking, the Cornish Rex’s most recognisable features are their soft, wavy coat which covers their entire body, their oval eyes, and large, high-set ears. Their whiskers tend to be crinkled or curved, adding to the breed’s distinct look.

In the moments the Cornish Rex isn’t exploring, jumping, or running around, they are likely to follow you from room to room or seek out a warm and comfortable spot on your lap, a social trait that has earned them the nickname “velcro cat”. Playful, extremely intelligent, and (bonus!) easy to care for, the Cornish Rex is an ideal companion for homes with children who have similarly boundless levels of energy and needs for social contact.

Black and a grey Cornish Rex sat in the grass

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2 facts about Cornish Rex

1. Cat-proof the home for this adventurer 

Did we mention the Cornish Rex is high-energy? The breed loves to run, jump, climb, and explore (often into your cabinets and closets, you’ve been warned!) and will need the vertical space to do so freely and safely. 

2. Well-known waves, the Cornish Rex hallmark

The wavy coat of the Cornish Rex, the breed’s hallmark, is like the feline version of the marcel wave, the elegant flapper hairstyle of the 1920s. Where most cat breeds have the long hair of an outer coat (called guard hairs), a middle layer, and a down undercoat, the Cornish Rex only has the third, making them velvety in appearance and incredibly soft to touch.

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History of the breed

The Cornish Rex breed emerged from a cat born to a housecat in Cornwall, England, in 1950. Named Kalibunker, the kitten was a red and white male with a tightly curled coat of fur, giving him the impression of a little lamb.

As Kalibunker grew, so did his ears, torso, and head. It became clear that he was significantly different from the other cats in the litter. His fine-boned, slender body was supported by long legs and his head was far narrower than the British domestic shorthair standard. His “bat ears” were especially differentiating, leading to the realisation that this cat was special due to a genuine mutation.

Experimental breeding involving outcrosses to Siamese, British, and Burmese ultimately formed the Cornish Rex as we know it today. Officially recognised in the UK in 1967, the breed has been very popular around the world ever since.

Black and white close-up portrait of a Cornish Rex looking at the camera

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Cornish Rex

1. Head

Egg-shaped head with large eyes and oval eyes.

2. Body

Long, slender body and a long, tapered tail.

3. Whiskers

Short crinkled or curved whiskers.

4. Coat

Soft, visibly wavy coat, comes in a variety of colours.

5. Legs

Long and straight legs.

Cornish Rex peeking out from behind a sofa cushion

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Cornish Rex
Cornish Rex looking directly into the camera lense

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Caring for your Cornish Rex

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Less is more when it comes to grooming your Cornish Rex. Their silky and wavy coat is actually quite delicate so excessive brushing or combing could damage the fur as well as the skin underneath. Although bathing is rarely needed, it is advisable to check their ears and nails weekly. Where it needs the most attention is in its activity levels as this breed has a lot of energy. Engage your Cornish Rex with fetch and high-activity toys, such as interactive teasers, and be sure to keep cat trees and high perches accessible to satisfy their climbing instincts. A highly intelligent and adventurous cat, the breed can also be taught tricks and be entertained for hours simply by having the space to explore (in other words: the Cornish Rex might be better suited to a house than a small apartment!).

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All about Cornish Rex

While the two breeds have similar origin stories and even personalities, their differences lie in their appearance: The Cornish Rex has an egg-shaped head and a short and thin coat with no guard hair whereas the Devon Rex has a more triangular head and a triple coat of curly fur. The Cornish Rex is largely considered to involve less maintenance than the Devon Rex.

The Cornish Rex will go the distance! On average, the breed will live to be 15 years old but it isn’t uncommon for the cat to live a long and healthy life of 20 years. It takes a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and your companionship! 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book