CATS - DEVON REX

Imoya’s Adalgisa – Picture by Theresa Fouche 2003DEVON REX - Pixies of the cat world by Danel Muller

Divine by nature, different in looks - Devon Rexes are beautiful and very people orientated. They are easy to care for and their thin coats cause less of an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to cat dander.

Huge flared ears are the first thing you see when looking at a Devon. Their eyes are big, oval and deceivingly innocent-looking. Their high cheek bones and upturned noses complete the Pixie look. Devons are medium-framed cats, with the males averaging 3-4 kg and the females 2-3 kg. They tend to have hearty appetites, and some put on too much weight if given unlimited food. They are accomplished food bandits and many an unattended bag of biltong has suddenly sprouted two legs and a tail, with a Devon head-in-the-bag contentedly grazing.

The description of the fairy creatures, Pixies is a guide to the character and charm of the Devon Rex.
Pixies, the Mystical creatures of English folklore, are considered to be particularly concentrated in the areas around Devon and Cornwall. They are usually depicted as wingless, with sharp ears, and often wearing green outfits and pointed hats. Their eyes are described as being slanted upwards at the temples ends. Pixies are said to be mischievous and enjoy playing tricks on people. They exude pixy dust, which is left in their footprints or floating behind them as they go.

The use of the word Devon is apt, as the breed originated in Devon in a little place called Buckfast in 1959, where a Mrs Cox found the first curly kitten called Kirlee. He was at first thought to be a Cornish Rex, but mating produced only straight haired kittens, which showed that there were two different genetic mutations that caused "rexing" of the coat (rexing is the curl found in the fur).

To be "devonised" by these little creatures, you just have to touch them. The short and wavy coat has the texture of cotton wool. While an even, full coat of loose curls, groomed into even "Marcelle waves" is ideal for the show ring, the Devon coat varies greatly between individuals, ranging from an almost shaggy mop of tousled curls that makes them look like Orphan Annie, to a thin suede-like coat that may leave some areas nearly bare. The coat may vary over the life of the cat, with some kittens molting during their development, and some adult coats changing seasonally. Devons are surprisingly warm to the touch due to a lighter, less insulating coat. Not surprisingly, they are often found lounging on television and computer monitors to soak up the heat. On chilly nights, they make superb bed warmers, often sneaking under the covers to stay warm and share body heat with their favourite people.

Devons come in all colours, from black or white, to more exotic colours like the pointed si-rex, patches or tabbies. They are very easy to care for as their wavy coats shed little and when bathed, Devons dry very quickly. Their large ears do seem to attract a bit more dirt than that of other breeds, so a weekly cleaning with a cotton swab is helpful. Clipping the tips of the nails will save your furniture (and skin!).

Devons are very people orientated and extremely inquisitive. They love to be with you, and to help you with all sorts of activities, from reading to cleaning the house. If you are seated, you will generally have a Devon on your lap; standing, you may have one on your shoulder like a parrot and if you are lying down, one will be kneading away to your tummy. Teach them how to play fetch and you will tire before they lose interest. Devons love heights. If you don't provide them with an extra high scratching post, they will wander on your curtain rails, using your curtains to get up there! They can be taught to walk on a leash with great success and make excellent travelers. Their personality has been aptly described as a cross between a cat, a monkey and "Dennis the Menace". Devons trot purposefully from one activity to another, tail in the air with all senses on full alert. If you please them, a wagging tail and a full vocabulary of sounds will reward you: prrp when they are chatting, an insistent meeeeeeow when they are hungry and the most unique chittering sound, with their lower jaw vibrating with anticipation when they spot a moth or bird outside.

Devons are generally very healthy cats. Genetic problems in the breed include: Cardiomyopathy, luxating patella, hip dysplasia and spasticity. We have largely, with carefully selective breeding, avoided these problems in South Africa. Because of the harsh South African sun and Devon's sparse coat, we recommend that Devons are kept indoors at all times to prevent skin cancer. While there is no truly "hypoallergenic" breed of cat, Devon Rex are more easily tolerated by some people who are more sensitive to cat dander.

One thing all Devon Rex owners agree on is that being owned by a Devon changes your life! Maybe it is the effect of the pixy dust left in the little pink paw prints on the shower floor?

Article and picture provided by Danel Muller, Imoya Devon Rex Cattery, Pretoria
www.imoya.co.za
First Published by: Animal Talk, Panorama Publishers, March 2006.

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