PostHeaderIconAbout Cornish Rex breed

Cornish Rex Standard: CRX FIFe standard.

About Cornish Rex breed

     The story of the  Cornish rex breed began on the 21st July 1950, in an old farm house on bodmin Moor in Cornwall south west of England.  An ordinary  farm cat had just given birth to a litter of kittens, among them a red tabby male.  Instead of being covered in short, scanty baby hair like his litter mates, the little fellow boasted tiny, tightly rolled curls.  The owner thought that the curls were due to the birthing fluid but when it dried out the curls remained.  As the kitten grew, it's unique appearance became more striking.  The red little male was long and slender with a whipping tail, huge ears and a narrow head.  His tight curls gave way to smooth, silky waves over his body and even his short whiskers were short and crinkly.
     His owner thought he would make an unusual pet. The veterinarian recognised the kitten for what it was, a true mutation, and persuaded the owner to propagate this new breed.  Geneticists examined hair samples, which found the hair to be very similar to that of the rex rabbit; and so it was suggested that the cat be described as a REX.  With the help of geneticists and Kallibunker, the red curly male; he was mated to his mother which resulted in a litter of three kittens, two of which were curly coated.  The mating was repeated and the result, more Rex kittens arrived.  Sadly, Kallibunker died quite young and his son Poldhu carried on the line. Only by breeding the remaining male to other breeds such as Burmese, Siamese and the domestic shorthair did the Cornish Rex breed survive. 
     Due to the gene pool being very small in the 1950s-1960s the Cornish Rex was a endangered species.  At this point, out crossing to other breeds like Siamese, Havana  Browns, Russian Blues, American Shorthairs and British Shorthairs  was the only hope.  Not only did this provide essential genetic diversity, but is also provided the wide selection of colours and patterns available today.  A rare event in feline history did take place, and now the Cornish Rex is one of the healthiest feline breeds available today.
    Ten years after the discovery of Kallibunker, the Cornish Rex breed was well established and publicised, which is recognised by the Cat Association world wide.

History of the Cornish Rex: The story of the Cornish Rex begins in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. On 21st July, 1950 a tortoiseshell cat by the name of Serena & owned by Mrs Nina Ennismore gave birth to a litter of five kittens. One red & white coloured kitten in this litter had an unusual curly coat. The kitten was named Kallibunker (Kalli)& was to become the founder of the Cornish Rex breed Nina Ennismore's veterinarian suggested she contact geneticist A C Jude. He advised she mate Kallibunker back to his mother. This mating produced three kitten A straight coated female & two curly coated males. Sadly, one of the males died at 7 months of age, but the second male named Poldhu (along with Kallibunker) went on to sire further lit. The early Cornish Rexes were outcrossed to domestic cats. 
     This is where the history of the breed temporarily splits:
Cornish Rex in the UK. Sadly in 1956 due to financial costs & a large population of 40 cats, Nina Ennismore had a number of her cats put to sleep, including Kallibunker & his mother Serena. By the late 1950's Nina Ennismore had stopped breeding Cornish Rexes. Brian Sterling-Webb continued to work with the breed. By this time, there were only two male Cornish Rexes left in Britain. One of whom was Poldhu. He was a tortoiseshell blue-cream-and-white male. This is rare in males & when it does occur they are almost always sterile. A veterinarian took a tissue sample from Poldhu for research, unfortunately he was accidentally castrated. Ironically, the tissue samples taken from Poldhu were lost. It is now believed that Poldhu was a chimera. This left one remaining male Cornish Rex in Britain, Sham Pain Chas. Due to heavy outcrossing, the Cornish was losing it's slender type. The great-great-great grandson of Kallibunker, a blue boy by the name of Rio Vista Kismet & bred by Miss Jeanne Jeffrey of Calgary, was imported from Canada by Mrs Alison Ashford. Kismet managed to enable breeders to bring back the Cornish Rex to it's original "slender" type. 
     Cornish Rex in the USA In 1956, Life magazine published an article on Cornish Rexes which generated much worldwide attention and the following year Frances Blancheri of California imported Lamorna Cove. She was pregnant by her father Poldhu at the time. She went on to have a litter of 4 kittens.

      In 1960 to celebrate 10 years of the Cornish Rex The Daily Mirror ran an article on the breed, with a photo of a winking kitten. The article said that the kitten (Du-Bu Lambtex) was the only curly coated kitten in Britain. A lady by the name of Miss Beryl Cox contacted the paper to say that she too had a curly coated cat named Kirlee. Believing that Kirlee also carried the Cornish Rex gene, Brian Sterling-Webb arranged for Kirlee to be sent to Cornwall to be a part of the breeding programme.

     When mated to several Cornish Rex females the offspring came out straight coated. It was concluded that Kirlee's mutation was different to that of the Cornish Rex & the two recessive genes were named: Gene 1 (Cornish Rex) & Gene 2 (Devon Rex). 

     I will finish with a quick timeline of the Cornish Rex history...
• 1948: Serene born
• 1950: 21st July, Kallibunker born
• early 1952, Mrs Ennismore talks to her veterinarian about Kallibunker, who advises her to contact A C Jude
• July 1952: A C Jude publishes an article on the Rex.
• 1952: 27th August, Poldhu (Kallibunker's son) is born.
• 1954: 15th August, Lamorna Cove is born.
• 1955: 5th June, Champagne Chas is born. He is the half brother of Lamorna Cove & is Cream & White.
• 1956: Kallibunker & Serene are put to sleep.
• 1956: Brian Sterling-Webb purchases Champagne Chas.
• 1957: Lamorna Cove who is pregnant at the time, and a sibling are sent to the USA.
• 1957: February-Our Cats notes that A C Jude's article which was published in Our Cats in 1952 has been published in the Journal of Genetics.
• 1959: Brian Stirling-Webb founded the Rex Coated & Any Other Variety Club.
• 1959: September. Kirlee (Devon Rex) is born, but is unknown at this time.
• 1965: Mrs Alison Ashford imports Rio Vista Kismet from Canada to the UK.
• 1965: Brian Sterling-Webb dies.
• 1967: Rex Cat Club is founded.

Appearance of the Cornish Rex: The Cornish Rex is a medium sized, cat with a short coat & slender build. The legs are long & the body curves upward from the ribs, for the so-called "tuck-up". The tail is long & tapering. Although it is a fine boned cat, it is quite muscular.The coat is wavy (known as a marcel wave) in appearance with curly whiskers & eyebrows. The typical cat has three types of hair, guard hairs, awn hairs & down hairs (the undercoat). The Cornish Rex coat completely lacks the guard hairs, giving it an incredibly soft feel. The coat is wavy in appearance. The head is wedge shaped, & is longer than it is wide, it has high cheekbones & a roman nose. The ears are set high on the head, but should not be too close together. The eyes are oval.

Cornish Rex Temperament: The Cornish Rex is a quiet, outgoing and active cat. They enjoy being a part of the family & don't like to be left out of day to day activities. They have a high energy level & love to play well into adulthood. They are also very acrobatic & love to climb. They are also known to enjoy playing fetch with their owners. They are extremely intelligent cats & very affectionate. They get along with other pets & children.

Cornish Rex Colours: The Cornish Rex comes all recognised colours.

Special Requirements: The Cornish Rex has no special requirements. Due to it's short coat, it doesn't shed as much as other breeds.

Lifespan: 15 years.

Suitable for: Active households. Cornish Rexes thrive on company. It is recommended if you are away for long periods of time that you get two cats for company. They get along with other family pets including dogs & are great with children. Because of their high activity levels, they are not recommended for people who want a quiet & docile cat.

Are Cornish Rexes hypoallergenic?
In truth, a rex cat is no different from any other cat and produces allergen like all other cats. They are not hypoallergenic by any means, as claimed by some. Then why do some people seem to have no allergic reaction to rex cats? There is no simple answer to this question at this time, and more research is required to get the answers needed. One possible hypothesis is that as rex cats have less hair to shed, they simply deposit less allergen-laced hair around the home. But, whatever the reasons some allergic people seem to tolerate them. From personal studies and observations by Margaret Lawrence in the UK, she found that around 10% of people allergic to cats tolerate rex cats. Please, before you race out and look for a rex cat, remember you should always test your allergies by visiting home or catteries that only own rex cats, and test continuously over several weeks or months. As you don't want the poor little kitten to be re-homed if you find out you are allergic to him or her. Don't let your new cat become another statistic at a shelter.

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