The Devon Rex

A complete breed guide

Last Updated 10 SEPT 2019

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc.

This quirky little cat breed has often been called a cross between a cat, a pixie, a dog, and a monkey. Known for being energetic, mischievious, and extremely attached to humans, the Devon Rex will follow you from room to room, perch on your shoulder, and provide hours of entertainment. They are fairly dog-like in their personality, with an intensely loyal, social, and human-loving nature.

We've put together a complete guide with everything you need to know before adopting a Devon Rex. If you need any further info, check out our Discover Education Portal or our complimentary Ask a Vet service.

Place of origin: Life Expectancy: Other names:
Devonshire, England 9-15 years 'Rex', 'Devons', 'Rexies'
Energy level: Tendency to vocalise: Coat colours:
Very active High A wide variety of colours (tabby, ginger, white, blue, multi coloured)
Coat type: Average Weight: Coat markings:
Short, curly, can be 'suede-like' and very fine. Low-shedding but not hypoallergenic. 3.5-4.5kg (males), 2.0-3.5kg (females) A variety of patterns
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Temperament:
Low Low maintenance Friendly, intelligent, social, high-energy, and very playful. They are usually described as mischevious and very attached to people.

2. History

Some believe the Devon Rex landed on Earth in an alien spaceship. While we can't be sure (and, those large ears speak for themselves!), we are generally inclined to believe that the Devon Rex was actually first discovered in the late 1950s Devonshire, England ( - Planet Earth!).

The Devon Rex first came about when a stray cat gave birth to a litter containing one odd, elvish-looking kitten with curly hair. This little kitten was adopted, given the name Kirlee, and eventually bred to a number of female cats. And thus, this quirky little breed was founded.

3. Distinguishing features

The Devon Rex is well known for its pixie-like appearance - with tight, curly fur, wide-set eyes, and ridiculously large ears. Originally, they were mistaken for the Cornish Rex, another curly-haired breed. But genetic testing proved otherwise. Differences between the two breeds can be seen in their fur quality (Cornish Rexes have a wavy coat, whereas the Devon Rex has tight curls) and their ears (the Devon Rex ears are set low on their head, whereas the Cornish are set higher up and closer together).

4. Personality

The Devon Rex is very social, usually preferring to stay close to their human friends or other household pets. They have a special affinity for being up high, and are known for perching on shoulders or atop high cupboards and doors.

Their mischievious, playful side means they are great with kids and provide an affectionate, endlessly-energetic play buddy. Their social nature and love of company means they aren't suited to households where they will be left home alone a lot.

The Devon Rex is a very food-motivated breed. At mealtime, you will have to keep an eye on your plate, as these guys are known for loving all kinds of food, all of the time. They will cheekily tell you they haven't been fed for weeks, just to score a scrap or two. Watch that your lovely sleek Devon doesn't snack themselves into obesity, as it may happen if you're not careful!

5. Grooming

The Devon Rex has short fur which doesn't require too much effort. A gentle groom with a soft-bristled brush is required every few days, but be careful not to be too rough with their soft skin. The fine quality of their hairs mean that they can be easily broken with rough brushing.

Bathing is generally not required unless your Devon suffer from greasy skin or yeast infections. In greasy skinned Devons, a luke warm bath may be required every few weeks, using a gentle shampoo such as PAW Nutriderm Replenishing Shampoo.

PAW Nutriderm Replenishing Shampoo

In Devons prone to greasy skin, a gentle shampoo bath every few weeks may be required.

Aloveen Gentle Oatmeal Shampoo

This gentle oatmeal-based shampoo is perfect for sensitive Devon Rex skin.

Feline Natural

This soft-bristled brush is ideal for delicate Devon Rex skin and fur.

Hill's Wet Varieties

The soft bristles on this Kazoo brush are gentle on delicate skin.


Nutritional Requirements

The Devon Rex

What is the best food for a Devon Rex? The Devon Rex is a unique breed, however it is still taxonomically within the domestic feline species. So, their nutritional demands don't differ too much from other cats. The Devon Rex may be a little more active than other cats, which means they can benefit from a a diet for active cats.

Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your Devon Rex's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

For Devon Rex kittens, a kitten diet is required until they are fully grown, which is around the 12 month mark. We recommend a premium, Australian-made product such as Advance Wet and Dry Kitten Food.

Feeding regular wet food meals along with dry kibble is a simple way to increase your Devon Rex's water intake to ensure adequate hydration and help support urinary tract health.

Top recommended food for the Devon Rex

Royal Canin Indoor

This diet from Royal Canin is specially formulated for indoor cats. With high digestibility, adapted calorie content, and specific fibre content, it is perfect for a healthy indoor Devon Rex.

Canidae Pure Sea

This all natural, limited ingredient food for cats is made with salmon and menhaden fish meal, so it's naturally high in omega fatty acids for healthy joint maintenance.

Feline Natural

This premium, high-meat cat food is available in cans (pictured) or freeze-dried formulas. The natural ingredients and a high meat content are perfect for the outdoor or active Devon Rex.

Hill's Wet Varieties

These high quality wet cat food formulas are easily digested and contain proven nutrition to support your Devon Rex's health and wellbeing.

7. Common Health Problems

Devon Rex cats may be prone to patella luxation and some food intolerances. Due to their limited gene pool in the past, an inherited muscle disease called Devon Rex myopathy is also found in some gene lines. This breed may also be prone to polycystic kidney disease (PKD) predisposed to hip dysplasia.

Devon Rex cats are also prone to sunburn and skin conditions due to their sparse hair and tendency to get oily or greasy skin. In cats with normal coats, the oil produced by the skin skin spreads naturally along the shaft of hairs. In rex breeds, the lack of hair causes the oil to collect on the skin and can make it feel oily. This can make the skin a little itchy and prone to yeast infections. Devon Rex cats may need regular bathing for this reason; we recommend once every few weeks.

8. Fun Facts about the Devon Rex:

The Devon Rex
  • The word 'Rex' refers to the unusually curly hair.
  • The reason why the curly haired trait came to be associated with the name 'Rex' is rather interesting. The term was coined when King Albert I of Belgium entered some curly haired rabbits in a show. The rabbits didn't actually meet the standards for their breed, but the judges were afraid of angering the king, and so wrote 'Rex' (which is Latin for 'King') on their scoresheets.
  • Despite resembling many large-eared oriental or exotic breeds (such as the Sphynx or Siamese), the Devon Rex actually hails from Devon, England.
  • Steven Spielberg once owned a Devon Rex, and is believed to have drawn inspiration from the breed for a number of his film's creatures - including E.T. and Yoda. With E.T.'s wide-set eyes, and Yoda's big, pointy ears, it's easy to see the resemblence!
  • Devon Rex kitties are owned by certain celebrities including burlesque dancer and fashion designer Deeta von Teese.