The Cornish Rex is a breed of cat known for having virtually no hair save for a layer of down, which itself has a distinct curl to it on many of the cats. The breed originates from Cornwall, in the UK.
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The first noted birth of Cornish Rex kittens was in a litter born in the 1950s in Cornwall. One of the kittens was a cream coloured male name Kallibunker who had a very fine and curly coat. He was then backcrossed to his mother and they produce two more kittens with the same type of coat. The male, called Poldhu, was bred with a Siamese cat to product the long tail and large ears that the breed has become known for.
While looking similar to the neighbouring Devon Rex, the coat of the Cornish is actually created by a different genetic mutation. The Devon Rex has guard hairs as well as down hairs and sheds it coat and crosses between the two breeds creates a cat that has short, wavy fur only.
The coat of most cat breeds is formed from three types of hair; the guard or outer hair which is around 5cm long in shorthaired breeds and double this in longhaired breeds; the middle later called the awn hair and the undercoat or down hair. With Cornish Rex, they have only the down layer and the genetic mutation that makes this also causes the hair to curl to give them their wavy coat.
Their coat is the softest of any breed of cat but also means it provides them with very little protection against the elements, so these cats tend to be indoor pets because of this. Even then, they may still need protecting against the extremes of temperature and can be prone to hypothermia if outdoors.
This is also made worse by them having a higher than average body temperature with their normal temperature being around 39 degrees C or 102 degrees F. Around the house, they will often tend to hang around the warmest places, such as radiators and lamps. Breeders have also noted that a strange smell can sometimes be noticed around these cats, almost cheesy, that comes from scent glands on their paws.
Cornish Rex come in almost all colours and patterns including solid colours such as white, black, chocolate, orange and dilute shades such as blue lilac and cream. They also come in the different tabby patterns including classic, ticked and mackerel, in tortoiseshell colours and smoke shades as well as the colour point coat pattern associated with Siamese.
The Cornish Rex is often called the Greyhound of cats because it is sleek and slender and has a galloping run. Even as they mature, they tend to retain a kittenish personality and like to run around and play. They are also very intelligent and adventurous cats who can adapt to new situations easily and like to explore their surroundings without fear. They enjoy being around people and other animals and are good with children.