Cornish Rex

History of the breed

The Cornish Rex breed is the result of one of nature's miracles, a spontaneous natural mutation, which occurred in non-pedigree cats in Cornwall in 1950. A tortoiseshell cat called Serena belonging to Mrs Nina Ennismore and Miss Winifrid Macalister gave birth to a litter of 5 kittens, one of the kittens, a red and white male, had a distinctive curly coat and whiskers that looked like coiled springs. This kitten was called Kallibunker and was the original Cornish Rex.
 Following genetic advice, Mrs Ennismore and Miss Macalister embarked on a breeding programme to develop their Rex cats as a breed, this ended in near disaster as so much inbreeding was involved.

Sadly they experienced so many setbacks that eventually they gave up, but not before they had exported a blue female Rex to the USA. This female 'La Morna Cove' was already pregnant to her sire Poldhu. Two kittens from the resulting litter - Marmaduke of Dazzling and Diamond Lil of Fan-T-Cee, were used to establish Cornish Rex as a breed in the USA.

Back in Britain a cream and white bi-colour Rex son of Kallibunker's, Sham Pain Chas, had been given by Mrs Ennismore to her Veterinary Surgeon, Mrs Rickeard. Sham Pain Chas (the only fertile Rex male left in the UK) was then lent to Brian Stirling-Webb in a last attempt to establish the Cornish Rex as a breed. In 1959 a small group of breeders bred their pedigree short hair females to Sham Pain Chas and in 1960 the resulting variant offspring were bred together and produced a new generation of Cornish Rex.


Cornish Rex cats make excellent pets. Aristocratic in appearance, they are charming, acutely intelligent, very affectionate and gentle whilst full of mischief, never seeming to grow old. The breed is elegant, agile, very active, vocal and sociable, demanding constant companionship. Their energy is fuelled by an overly healthy appetite, which may need to be carefully controlled if they are not to become overweight.


The Cornish Rex is a lean, muscular cat of medium foreign type, it has a wedge shaped head, strong chin, large upright ears set high on the head and medium oval shaped eyes.

They stand high on long slim legs with dainty oval paws and have long tails expressing their every mood. The most important characteristic is the coat, which differentiates it from any other breed. In the best specimens it is short, soft, dense and luxuriant to the touch, feeling like crushed velvet. Neat and even waves cover the body and tail whilst the coat on the head, legs and paws is short and plush, but some even have tiny waves rippling down their legs and onto their paws as well.

FIFe Breed Standard

General: The Cornish Rex is distinguished by its slender and graceful appearance. It is surprisingly heavy due to its strong muscle tone. It is covered in characteristic wavy, soft coat and gives an overall appearance of being high on legs.

Head:Viewed from above: egg shaped, slightly longer than wide, equally narrow from cheekbones to the end of skull. Viewed in profile: flat skull, straight nose, strong chin.
Muzzle:Harmonious with the head, not too prominent or square
Whiskers & Eyebrows:Crinkled or curved
Neck:Elegant,slender; in proportion to body.
Ears:Large, wide at the base and tapering and covered with fine hair
Ear placement:Set high on the head, held alert.
Eyes:Oval shaped slanting slightly upward,medium in size
Eye colour:Bright, clear and pure
Body:Of medium length, elegant, hard and muscular – especially hips and thighs. Delicate bone structure. Body weight heavier than the cat’s appearance indicates.
Legs:Long, straight and slender, giving an overall appearance of being high on legs
Paws:Small and oval, dainty.
Tail:Long, fine and tapering; covered with wavy hair, preferably without bare patches or being bushy.
Coat:Short, not shaggy, but slightly plush and dense, close lying to the body, without guard hairs. Wavy, particularly on the back and sides.
Coat colour:All colour varieties and patterns are recognised, including those with white. Any amount of white is permitted.

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