5 Things to Know About Cornish Rex Cats

Cornish Rex cats appear regal but remain playful well into their senior years.

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 6–10 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10–15 years

The Cornish Rex is a medium-sized cat with a soft, short, very fine coat that feels like crushed velvet. The small head is flanked by large ears and features large eyes. The body is slim and muscular with long legs, a curved back and a long tail.

The cat’s overall appearance is elegant and sophisticated and resembles a Whippet. Coat colors and patterns vary greatly in this agile and active cat.

2. Where They Came From

A litter of kittens was found in a barn in Cornwall, England, in 1950. One of the kittens, a male named Kallibunker, was born with short, curly fur believed to be the result of a mutation caused by radiation from the local tin mines.

Kallibunker was mated back to his mother to produce additional offspring. The Cornish Rex was brought to the United States in 1957, and the breed obtained Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) championship status in 1964.

Cornish Rex cats are known for their tightly curled coat. By: Eric Isselee (Top: okssi68)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Don’t let the sleek, aristocratic appearance fool you. The Cornish Rex is one active and goofy cat.

These cats stay in kitten mode most of their lives and well into their senior years. (Fun fact: One Cornish Rex reportedly lived up to 37 years!). The Cornish Rex is an active and playful cat who loves to play fetch, catch and throw small toys. They are extremely affectionate cats and love to be around people — so much that they can be demanding for attention and companionship.

Curiosity and intelligence are also characteristics of the Cornish Rex, as well as the ability to adapt quickly. They make a great companion for children. Most Cornish Rex cats love having a playmate, but some prefer to be the only cat. They can get along with other household animals.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

Low

LOW: Cornish Rex cats do not have any special exercise needs. They are recommended as indoor-only cats and should not be allowed outdoors for long periods of time in variable weather; their short coats are insufficient protection from extreme temperatures.

Their physical activity should be similar to that of most cats (sleeping long hours, playing, running and jumping), although they are typically more active and playful than other cats. Contact your veterinarian if you notice a decrease in activity or mobility; this could be a sign of a health issue.

Grooming Needs

Medium

MEDIUM: The short coat of the Cornish Rex does not shed much and may seem to not shed at all.

Despite the short coat, the cats are not hypoallergenic. They reportedly do not aggravate allergies as much as other breeds but may still cause symptoms. They need to bathed regularly since they do not have an outer coat to absorb natural oils. The cat’s coat looks best when it reaches maturity, between 2–3 years of age.

Trim the cat’s nails as needed (usually once every 1–2 weeks), and clean the ears and teeth to promote good overall health. Pay special attention to the ears; Cornish Rex cats have large ears and can experience problems without proper grooming.

Health Problems

Medium

MEDIUM: Cornish Rex cats are sensitive to certain anesthetics. Talk to your veterinarian before having any procedures done and discuss local anesthesia or other options to minimize risk.

Occasional heart and thyroid problems are possible. Cornish Rex cats have a tendency to overeat, so you may need to pay special attention to the amount of food provided to control their weight. Because of their short coats, dermatological issues are also possible.

Wow — check out this Cornish Rex’s awesome tricks:

5. Where to Adopt One

If you consider getting a Cornish Rex for your next pet, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals end up in shelters. Try Petful’s own pet adoption page. (Select the “Cats” tab, and you can filter your results by breed and ZIP code.)

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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