I must admit that I had a bit of trouble finding a lot of information about this breed. It looked like there were two different back ground stories, turned out the story belonged to two different cats!
The Name Cornish Rex comes from the word Cornwall, where he was born and Rex (Rex means king) are bunnies with the same curly coat. (Hence the name Cornish Rex. )
It all begins with a litter of five kittens from a tortoiseshell cat in 1950 in Cornwall, owned by Mrs Nina Ennismore. One red and white coloured kitten in this litter had an unusual curly coat. They named the kitten Kallibunker, and he was the founder of the Cornish Rex. The mix of kittens showed that the gen that created curls was dominant.
Nina’s vet suggested to contact geneticist A. C. Jude. He advised her to let Kalli mate with his mother. This produced three kittens, one straight coated and three curly coated. Kalli and the second curly male kitten Poldhu went on creating further litters.
By the late 1950′s Nina Ennismore had stopped breeding Cornish Rexes. Brian Sterling-Webb continued to work with this breed. By this time, there were only two male Cornish Rexes left in Britain. One of them was Poldhu. He was a tortoiseshell blue-cream-and-white male. 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. The male, Poldhu, also mated a female called Lamorna Cove who was later brought to America and crossed with a Siamese, giving the breed their long whippy tails and big ears.
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 with the name of Rio Vista Kismet, was imported from Canada by Mrs Alison Ashford. Kismet managed to enable breeders to bring back the Cornish Rex to its original slender type.
There are two sorts of the Cornish Rex, the American and the European. The American Rex is often smaller and a thinner coat, while the European Rex is bigger and a thicker coat.
The breed is often also called the Greyhound of the cats, because of the sleek appearance and the galloping run. The Cornish Rex tends to stay playful throughout their long lives and some cats even like to play fetch, race other pets, or do acrobatic jumps. The Cornish is an intelligent and adventurous cat. They adapt easily to new situations, and it loves to explore. The Rex is really curious and seeks out the company of people and is friendly towards other companions, like animals. It is a suitable pet for shy children. And they are the happiest when there are more pets around, not to mention they have a lifespan of 15 years. So if you want an active cat, a Rex could be perfectly fine for you.
Cornish Rex cats come in a variety of coat colors and patterns: solids, including white, black, chocolate, orange and the dilutes blue, lilac and cream; all forms of tabby including classic, mackerel and ticked tabbies, bi-color “tuxedo” coat in many colors, tortoiseshell, “smoke” colors and the color-point pattern standard in the Siamese breed.
The Cornish has no hair beside down. Most breeds of cat have three different types of hair in their coats: the outer fur or guard hairs, a middle layer called the awn hair, and the down hair or undercoat, which is very fine. Cornish Rex’s only have the undercoat. The curl in Cornish Rex fur is caused by a different mutation and gene than that of the Devon Rex. Their coat is extremely fine and curly (even their whiskers curl), the softest of any cat breed. But their light coat means that they are better can stay inside, living in warm and dry conditions. They might get hypothermia if they stay outdoors during the winter. Their body temperature is a little higher than most cats, and these cats tend to hang around light bulbs, the tops of computer monitors and other warm places including laps and shoulders. Some Cornish Rexes can have a mild cheesy smell peculiar to the breed, this smell comes from scent glands in the paws. And because they have such a short fur, they don’t shed as much as other cats do. Nor do they need special treatments for their coat. Brushing so now and then is all they really need.
The Cornish Rex has long legs and a curved back and a long fine tail, Similar to an oriental. They are long and slender, all contours of its body are gently curved. But even though they look so elegant, these small to medium-sized cats are extremely hard-bodied and muscular. They have very well developed hips and hind legs which, makes them fast and causes them to jump high.
They also have a long graceful neck that leads to a small, narrow, distinct egg-shaped head. With their large ears are set rather high on the head with large oval-shaped eyes. The Cornish Rex has an athletic body
Then there is the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex
The Devon and the Cornish have both similar coats. Cornish Rex doesn’t have an outer fur, The Devon actually does have a little outer hair. And because both breeds are two different breeds they can’t be crossed with each other. You won’t get kittens with curly hair.
Some say yes, some say no. Both Devon and Rex seem to be hypoallergenic. They tend to give less problems with people who are allergic to cats. Allergic reactions from cats are not the result of hair length, the true reason is a glyco-protein, produced in the sebaceous glands of the skin, saliva, and urine. Most people who have cat allergies are reacting to this protein in cat saliva and cat dander, when the cat cleans its fur, the saliva dries and is transformed into dust which people breathe in. Since Cornish Rex cats groom as much as or even more than ordinary cats, a Cornish Rex cat can still produce a reaction in people who are allergic to cats. But, reported widely it cause lesser to little allergic reaction. It is recommended to visit a cattery to check their own tolerance.
I personally find this a really gorgeous cat. It has something other cats don’t have. Curls, even their whiskers curls. I haven’t met any Cornish Rex’s yet, but I can’t wait till I finally meet one. They look curious and active cats, perfect indoor cats. So if you want something really unique ánd active, have a look at the Cornish Rex.