About the Breed
Devon Rex are the pixies of the cat fancy with their impish looks and mischievous personalities. The Devon Rex have large low set ears and big impish eyes set in a head with a short muzzle and high cheekbones. It is a small to medium sized cat with a muscular body covered with a short, velvety soft coat that ripples with waves. They are often described as resembling the Gremlins from the film Star Wars while the waif-like tousled curls of their coats are reminiscent of Little Orphan Annie's tousled mop.
Buckfastleigh, Devon, England is the ancestral home of the Devon Rex where a feral tom cat with a curly coat lived in an abandoned tin mine. In 1960, a tortie & white stray adopted by Miss Beryl Cox had a litter of kittens sired by the feral tom. One of the kittens was a brownish-black male with a coat just like his sire's. Miss Cox kept the kitten and named him Kirlee. Aware of Kallibunker (the first Cornish Rex) and the work to preserve that new gene, she wrote to Brian Sterling-Webb thinking her Kirlee could contribute to that program. However it turned out that the gene creating Kirlee's curly coat was different to the one producing Kallibunker's marcelled waves. There were a number of differences in the coat between Kirlee and the CR. While Kalli had whiskers that were bent and curled, the gene from Devon resulted in missing or stubby whiskers. Kirlee had tight curls but not as uniform as those of Kallibunker giving them a windblown appearance. And Kirlee had huge, low-set ears giving his head a pixie-like look that was accentuated by the large, inquisitive eyes and short nose.
Devon Rex are intelligent, mischievous and highly active. They are very playful and want to be involved in everything - and they are powerful jumpers no spot goes unexplored! Expect to find them perching on the top of doors or climbing to some previously unexplored spot. Although they are interested in everything going on around them, Devons are very people-oriented and prefer to share their investigations with you so expect their company no matter what you are doing. They will perch on your shoulder watching you make supper (food is another of their favorite things!), curl in your lap while you read a book, and snuggle under the covers to sleep with you at night. They aren't particularly talkative but do chirp when they feel they absolutely need you to look at something that has caught their interest. These busy little pixies work well in an active household as they thrive on company but should not be left alone for long periods as they can become destructive if they get bored. They are great with children and get along well with other family pets.
Male vs Female
Typically in most breeds there isn't much of a difference in personality between males or females.
Our females on average weigh 4-6 pounds. Our males on average weight 6-8 pounds.
When it comes to personality we strongly recommend a male for a first time devon owner or a home with kids. Typically speaking, males are a bit calmer than their female counterparts. My average female tends to be a 'busy bee' always getting into things and exploring. They typically have a favorite person in the home that they will gravitate to more. And while they are still cuddlebugs, they are very active and will make sure there is nothing they can get in trouble with before settling down. Males on the other hand while they are still an active cat, they tend to get bored of exploring much easier and will come sit on anyone's lap that is available. They are more mellow in comparison to the females and with that are down to be carried around and babied. They also appear to be a bit more clumsy than the females which makes exploring a bit more of a challenge.
Some kittens molt, e.g., lose their coat between the 5th and 10th week of life. This is normal and is a feature of some family lines of Devon Rex. Molted kittens will regrow their coats from about 3 1/2 months to 6 - 10 months of age. But each Devon is different. Devons will typically get their full coat in by 1.5-2 years old. This is also true with color changes in pointed or smoke genes.
Upper Left Corner: Peach Fuzz - 6 months old
Lower Left Corner: Patchy, coat coming in around sholders - 1 year
Right: Full thick coat - 1.5 years old
This the Devon Rex is a fairly healthy breed, however they can be prone to some illness such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (CMS). We have also found that Devons can be prone to allergies and strongly suggest staying away from any shellfish.
Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a type of abnormal thickening of the heart, is the most common cause of heart disease in cats. It is often an “occult” silent killer, and it can result in sudden death in cats. HCM is often diagnosed in young to middle-aged cats. Certain breeds may be predisposed, suggesting a possible genetic component. However, most of the time, the cause of HCM in cats remains unknown. Other HCM influencers can be linked back to not enough taurine in the diet, a cold, or completely random. With many unknown causes to HCM, no breeder can guarantee against HCM. We can do our best to screen our cats and watch our lines, but there are too many variables to 100% say a cat will not get HCM.
The discovery of a specific genetic anomaly in Ragdolls and Maine Coon has allowed the development of a blood test. This test looks at the 2 copies of the gene affected (the one encoding myosin binding protein C). If the 2 copies are normal, risk of developing HCM is very low (but not completely absent, because mutations in other genes can be involved). If one copy is abnormal, then risk is moderate. If the 2 copies are abnormal, then the risk is high and the disease is likely to be severe. Echocardiography will become necessary to see if the genetic anomalies have translated into real disease. This test works only in these 2 breeds. It can be useful for breeders.
** As of late 2020 they believe they may have found the gene within Sphynx for HCM meaning we finally have a genetic test. However, please remember that is just one gene and one cause. A negative genetic test still does not guarantee a cat will not get HCM. We will be working to get our cattery tested once we see reviews and it becomes available.
This is the approach used in breeds at risk in which there is no genetic testing, such as Sphynx and Devon Rex. (*cat needs to be 2 years old before echocardiograph screening is valid) At Nightmagic, we try to test our breeding animals every 2 years as suggested. However, please note that even with screening, it is possible a cat would come back with perfect measurements one day and a few months later have thickening. With the average cost of echocardiographs running $200-600 per cat, most breeders do not take this extra step as even it does not guarantee the cat to be clear from the disease.
This blood test may help to identify asymptomatic cats with HCM but is associated with a lot of false positives. Its best value is to predict the ABSENCE of heart disease when it is in the normal range.
Please do not mistake a heart murmur in a kitten for HCM !
After a thorough examination, your vet may find that your cat is in perfect health. In these instances, the murmur is called an innocent or physiologic heart murmur. These benign murmurs are generally low in intensity and don't occur with other signs or symptoms that indicate a disease or illness.
Innocent murmurs are common in young kittens—especially when they're going through a growth spurt—and generally stop at around 4 or 5 months of age. Adult cats may have temporary murmurs as well, which are often due to stress that causes an increase in the heart rate.
If a kitten presents itself with a low grade murmur do not panic. Have your vet listen to the heart again in a few months so see if the murmur has been outgrown or improved.
Congenital myasthenic syndrome or CMS is a condition that affects both the Devon Rex and the Sphynx. The disorder affects a cat's muscles causing weakness in them. Cats suffering from the condition often bob their heads because they find it hard to hold them steady simply because their muscles are so weak. The first signs of there being a problem usually become evident when kittens are anything from three to twenty-three weeks old and their condition can remain the same or it could get gradually worse as time passes. CMS is an autosomonal recessive, genetic disorder and any affected cat should not be used in a breeding programme.
Luckily, unlike HCM, CMS can be genetically tested for. If a cat tests negative for CMS, then they do not have CMS, nor is there ever the risk of them developing the issue later in life.
Lumps, Bumps, and Allergies
General Care and more....
Acne: Yes, you heard right. Devons can get Acne.
As mentioned above, the Devon Molt.
Because there is a lack of coat to help wick away the grease and grim off their little bodies, can be prone to getting acne. There is a reason why your hairless breeds like the Sphynx require weekly baths. Thankfully Devons don't require this much attention. But if you start to notice little red bumps typically seen on the top of the head or along their body, do not panic, as this is normal. You can start to curb the issue by taking a warm damp wash cloth and wiping down your Devon (don't forget under their little armpits) every other day or once a week. This rarely is an issue once their adult coat comes in.
Dirty Ears: The same logic above applies to the ears. The gene that causes the rex gene is also responsible for less hair in the ears of the Devon Rex. Because of this, again, the wax isn't wicked away as it would be in a normal cat. Therefor, Devons do require more frequent ear cleanings than a normal coated breed. This will not change throughout their life.
Allergies: For whatever reason, the Devons can be prone to allergies more than other breeds, from my experience. I had a female develop a food allergy to temptation cat treats out of the blue. It took months of a clean diet with restricted ingredients to correct the damage done. For this reason, please please please follow our advice on what to feed your devon. I know other breeders have their own opinion, but based off what we have learned the hard way, we do not feed our cats any Shellfish or Corn. Ideally Chicken, Turkey and Beef (in that order) are the safest protein options to feed your Devon. Allergies can present themselves in rashes, bumps, or loose to watery stools. With the bumps, it's important to watch closely as to not be confused with acne.
People with cat allergies react to a protein in the animal's saliva, skin, and urine. The allergen collects on the cat's fur when the animal licks itself and comes off in tiny flakes of skin that glom onto walls, carpet, and furniture or stay in the air. A cat's lick or scratch can cause skin welts or itchiness. In the nose and lungs, the protein causes itchy, watery eyes and nasal congestion and can lead to asthma.
The allergens are so powerful that they can hang around for months, causing effects long after the cat is gone.
Some cats secrete less of the protein, some cats put out less saliva, and some cats produce less dander. But all cats make the allergen in some form.
That said, if you have LIGHT to MILD allergies, the Devons can be helpful. Maybe.
If you can live with a domestic shorthair cat and want something that may make your life a little easier, a Devon could be for you. A Devon however is not a miracle cat. If you cannot be around a normal cat, then unfortunately you won't be able to live with a Devon either.