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Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a medium sized cat with a lean, athletic build, and striking wedge-shaped head with large mobile ears. The prominent feature of the breed however is their ‘rex’ coat, which is curled, waved or rippled across the whole of the cat, even the whiskers and eyebrows should be curly. This curious looking coat should be silky to touch, and in the mature cat is dense and short, though it may take 3 years for a Cornish Rex to develop a fully matured coat. 

The need-to-know
  • Benefits from an experienced owner
  • Needs high-level of enrichment including simulated hunting games and interactive play
  • Playful and curious cat
  • Independent but friendly
  • Slightly talkative cat
  • Lean and elegant cat
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • A bit of both indoor and outdoor space
  • Not ideal for family homes
  • Can be regularly left for a few hours
  • Great for a relaxed home
Generally healthy breed

The Cornish Rex breed is prone to: 
- Hypotrichosis which is a condition where areas of fur do not grow and this can result in skin infections (particularly yeast infections) due to the lack of oil which is normally produced by the hair in order to maintain healthy skin.
- Polycystic kidney disease which is an inherited condition where cysts form in the kidneys. This affects kidney function and can eventually lead to kidney failure. However, it is worth noting that the risk of developing this disease in this breed is lower than in other cat breeds that are prone to the problem. 
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.

Testing available:
- DNA testing for polycystic kidney disease and progressive retinal atrophy which tests whether or not a cat has the potential to be affected by this condition.

E. Ferguson, 'Alopecia in the cat: Part 2', 2008, UK Vet Companion Animal

Key Facts

Lifespan: 11 - 15 years
Weight:  2.7 - 4.5kg
Colours:  Cornish Rex cats come in any of possible cat coat colours.  


Family-friendly: 2/5
Playfulness: 5/5
Intelligence: 4/5
Tendency to Vocalise:  2/5
Likes Other Pets: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Cornish Rex cat is lying on the sofa


Playful and kittenish into old age, the Cornish Rex has been described as the Greyhound of the cat world. Lean and athletic, with a characteristic galloping run, it is easy to see how this comparison can be drawn. Cornish Rex’s are clever, adventurous and extremely curious. They are also highly sociable with both people and other household pets.

Cornish Rex cat is lying on a blanket

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Arising from a random genetic mutation said to have occurred in a litter of non-pedigree cats born in Cornwall in 1950, the Cornish Rex has been selectively bred by crossing that first kitten back to his mother, and subsequently careful line-breeding with some out-crossing to Siamese type cats. This produced the lean, elegant cat, with a distinctive rippled or curled coat we know as the Cornish Rex. 

There are several genes that create ‘rex’ cats, and in all four of the original ‘rex’ breeds (Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, LaPerm and Selkirk Rex), these are different genes and different mutations. 

The Cornish Rex has no guard hair, and no awn (fluff), just a fine curled undercoat, and although popularly believed to be hypo-allergenic, this is rarely the case as allergies are typically triggered by saliva (caused by the cat grooming itself) and dander (dead skin cells). 

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