20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know about the Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a rather distinctive-looking cat breed. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that there are a number of interesting facts about them, which should appeal to cat owners as well as other people who are interested in cats for whatever reason. Here are 20 fun facts that you may or may not have known about the Cornish Rex:

Comes From Cornwall

Cornish means something that comes from Cornwall. For those who are unfamiliar with that name, it is the region situated at the southwestern tip of England, which has been inhabited by the Cornish for a long, long time. It is interesting to note that once upon a time, Cornwall was famous because of its tin production, which turned it into an important stop in a trade network that extended to the Levantine. This is because tin was one of the materials needed to produce bronze, which in turn, meant that Bronze Age civilizations had a huge interest in the sites where said metal could be found because of its relative scarcity. Unfortunately, tin mining and other forms of mining have more-or-less ceased in modern Cornwall, which has had a negative impact on its economy, with the result that the region has become much more reliant on its agriculture, its fishing, and its tourism. Suffice to say that this means that Cornwall isn’t exactly one of the wealthiest regions in the United Kingdom.

Rex Means King

The other component of the name Cornish Rex comes from the Latin for “king.” In fact, Rex was the title that was used for the rulers of the Roman Kingdom, though it saw a fair amount of use in other contexts as well. For example, there was a Roman family called the Marcii Reges, which bore the inherited cognomen “Rex” because they had been founded by the fourth King of Rome Ancus Marcius. At this point, some people might be curious about whether the Romans ever used Rex as a pet name. If so, they might be disappointed to learn that while the Romans seemed to have a similar naming sense, they were very fond of using Greek names for their pets. This is the reason that a lot of Roman pets ran around with names such as Sticte and Tigris, which are amusing because they mean “Spot” and “Tiger.”

Named For a Rabbit

With that said, it is amusing to note that the Cornish Rex is named for a rabbit. To be exact, the Cornish Rex is named for the rex rabbit, which is a rather informal term used for a number of domestic rabbit breeds that exhibit what is a very plush sort of fur called rex fur. This comes from the fact that a rex rabbit has no guard hairs in its fur, meaning that the hairs in its fur share the same shortness of length. Combined with their dense distribution, this is what creates the plush feeling, which in turn, is why the Cornish Rex is named for the rex rabbit. Regardless, while rex rabbits see use in the present for producing fur as well as producing meat, they see a fair amount of use as show rabbits as well, which is rather amazing considering that they rose to prominence in the 1920s.

Rex Comes From a Belgian King

Speaking of which, it is amusing to note that the practice of using rex to refer to an unusual kind of fur did indeed come from a king. To be exact, the practice came from Albert I, who was the third King of the Belgians. What happened was that Albert I had entered some rabbits into a rabbit show. Unfortunately for the king, his rabbits didn’t actually meet the requirements for the rabbit show, which was intended for curly-haired rabbits. Unfortunately for the judges, they had a rather understandable desire to avoid giving offense to a ruling monarch, which is why they accepted his entries anyways before writing “Rex” besides their names. Of course, “Rex” was used to indicate that said rabbits had been entered by the King of the Belgians, but in time, it went on to refer to unusual furs, with a particular focus on curly fur.

Started Out in 1950s

There are some cat breeds that can trace their origins to centuries and centuries ago. However, the Cornish Rex isn’t one of them. Instead, its origins can be traced to Cornwall in the 1950s. What happened was that a female cat bore a litter of kittens, which happened to include one with a genetic mutation that caused it to have a rather unusual coat of fur, which stood out in the sense that it was both very fine and very curly. Said kitten’s name was Kallibunker, which is worth remembering because he went on to become the progenitor of the cats that make up the Cornish Rex breed in the present.

Sometimes Compared to Greyhounds

The Cornish Rex has sometimes been compared to a feline version of greyhounds. Primarily, this is because of their sleek appearance, which can be attributed to the rather curious nature of their fur. However, it should also be noted that the Cornish Rex is similar to greyhounds in that they can run at a gallop. For those who are unsure of what this means, a gallop is when a quadruped such as a cat, a dog, or a horse runs at such a fast pace that all four of its feet are leaving the ground at the same time in a regular manner, which makes for a very unmistakable look.

Established Via Backcrossing

The Cornish Rex breed was established through the use of backcrossing. In other words, Kallibunker’s genetic mutation was passed on to his descendants through inbreeding with his mother, which produced the desired result in the form of more kittens with curly hair. For those who are curious, backcrossing sees a fair amount of use in this field because it is a useful method for transferring useful traits onto new animals. In this case, the useful trait was Kallibunker’s curly hair that had popped up through pure chance, meaning that there were limited options for establishing it in other cats. Of course, backcrossing has some serious drawbacks, with an excellent example being recessive traits with horrific consequences popping up.

Has Some Siamese Blood in Them

It is interesting to note that the Cornish Rex breed has some blood from the Siamese cat as well. Like its name suggests, the Siamese cat is one of a number of cat breeds that come from Thailand, which has seen its name change between Thailand and Siam on more than one occasion. Regardless, the Siamese cat is held in high regard for a number of reasons, with examples ranging from their sociable nature with both cats and humans to a sense of playfulness that persists into adulthood. Nowadays, the influence of the Siamese cat can still be seen in the Cornish Rex breed. After all, the Siamese cat is responsible for couple of notable physical characters in the Cornish Rex, with one being their big ears and the other being their long tails with their whip-like movements.

Limited to Down

Generally speaking, cats have three separate layers to their fur. These three separate layers are the guard hairs, the awn hairs, and the down hairs, which make up the outer, the middle, and the under layers of the fur. The Cornish Rex is unusual in that it lacks both the outer layer and the middle layer of the fur, meaning that it has nothing but the under layer of the fur, which is sometimes called the down. As a result, the Cornish Rex has a sleeker appearance than most cats because it is not as furry. However, it should be mentioned that this trait has both pros and cons because both the outer layer and the middle layer of the fur have important functions that cannot be performed in the case of the Cornish Rex for obvious reasons. Something that people who are interested in the Cornish Rex might want to look into if they are actually thinking about getting one for their home.

Should Not Be Compared with the Devon Rex

It is not uncommon for people to make comparisons between the Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex, which is based on nothing more than surface impressions. Given the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Devon Rex is another cat breed with curly, short hairs. However, it is important to note that the Devon Rex’s fur is caused by a separate genetic mutation that causes it to have shorter than normal guard hairs. This is in stark contrast with the Cornish Rex, which doesn’t have guard hairs at all. Besides this particular comparison of characteristics, there are other significant differences between the Cornish Rex and the Devon Rex, with an excellent example being how the latter tends to be much more difficult animals when it comes to their temperament.

Should Not Be Compared with the Sphynx Cat

On a related note, the Cornish Rex should not be compared with the Sphynx cat either. This is because the Sphynx cat stands out in that it has no fur whatsoever. Instead, it has fine hairs, which results in a texture that has been compared to that of chamois leather, which is a product that was once made using a particular kind of mountain goat from Europe but is now made from a particular kind of sheepskin. In most cases, it should be a simple and straightforward matter to distinguish between the Cornish Rex and the Sphynx cat, but there are unfortunate cases in which this can become a lot more challenging than it seems on initial consideration.

The Cornish Rex Can Still Trigger Allergies

There are some people who believe that the Cornish Rex is either non-allergenic or hypo-allergenic because of its relative lack of fur. However, this is inaccurate in most cases. This is because most people who have allergic reactions to cats are allergic to a particular protein that can be found in cat saliva as well as cat dander. Unfortunately, when a cat grooms itself, it will transfer some of its saliva to its hairs, where it will end up as dust that can be breathed in by people sharing the same space. Since the Cornish Rex does a fair amount of grooming, this means that people are by no means safe from allergies just because they have a member of this particular cat breed in their home. With that said, it is interesting to note that people have reported lower incidences of cat allergies in relation to the Cornish Rex, though interested individuals should still test their reaction to such a cat before taking further steps to bring one home.

The Cornish Rex Is Prone to Baldness

As stated earlier, both the outer layer and the middle layer of the fur have important functions. One excellent example is how those layers protect the under layer, which is susceptible to a wide range of potential problems. Since the Cornish Rex doesn’t actually have either the outer layer or the middle layer of fur that can be found in other cats, this means that such cats are prone to hair loss. In some cases, this means nothing more than sparse coats, meaning that their owners might want to take up special precautions to compensate for their pets’ lack of fur. However, there are plenty of cases in which a Cornish Rex will become bald because of the sheer amount of hair to gets lost, thus making it a much more serious problem.

The Cornish Rex Is Not Actually Warmer Than Other Cats

Speaking of which, one of the other useful functions of the fur that is missing in the Cornish Rex is insulation. In short, the outer layer and the middle layer combine with the under layer to slow the rate at which a cat loses its body heat, which is rather important for its continuing well-being in a wide range of environments under a wide range of circumstances. Unfortunately, since the Cornish Rex lacks both the outer layer and the middle layer of the fur, it lacks this insulation, meaning that they lose body heat at a faster rate than most other cats. As a result, when someone notices that a Cornish Rex feels warmer to their touch than other cats, that doesn’t actually mean that it is generating more body heat than other cats. Instead, that means that its body heat is transferring at a faster rate, which is a potential issue that cat owners will want to become aware of ahead of time.

The Cornish Rex Likes Warm Places

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cornish Rex has a fondness for warm places. After all, warm places help them maintain their body temperature at a comfortable level in spite of the faster rate at which they lose their body heat. Due to this, the Cornish Rex is prone to sticking to warm places that range from light bulbs to people’s laps, which on the plus side, means that they are very companionable animals. Of course, this means that their cat owners should do their best to keep a Cornish Rex out of cold environments, which can have a horrendous impact on them within no more than a short period of time.

Not Like Greyhounds In One Important Respect

With that said, it should be mentioned that the Cornish Rex is actually quite different from greyhounds in one very important respect. In short, while greyhounds have a number of characteristics that make them very well-suited to a wide range of people under a wide range of circumstances, they are not considered to be the brightest dogs of the species. This doesn’t mean that they are stupid, just that there are dog breeds out there that learn faster than they do. In contrast, the Cornish Rex have something of a reputation for their cleverness, which enables them to adapt to changing circumstances with admirable ease. Moreover, the Cornish Rex combines with cleverness with an innate sense of curiosity, which explains why they are so fond of exploring their surroundings. Summed up, while the cat breed might be best-known for its looks, its brains are by no means lacking.

Comes with a Wide Range of Appearances

It should be mentioned that the Cornish Rex isn’t limited to a small selection of appearances but can instead take on a wide range of colors as well as a wide range of patterns. For example, some examples of the Cornish Rex come with solid colors, which include but are not limited to black, white, orange, and blue. In contrast, other example of the Cornish Rex might have a tuxedo pattern, a tabby pattern, or even a tortoiseshell pattern. There are even some examples of the Cornish Rex that come with what is called a color-point pattern, which reflects the Siamese cat in their background because that particular pattern happens to be standard to said cat breed.

Scientists Have Studied the Cornish Rex

Scientists have put a fair amount of effort into studying what makes the Cornish Rex. As a result, we know the exact genetic mutation that is responsible for the cat breed. Moreover, we know the exact effects of the genetic mutation, which is how the Cornish Rex was distinguished from other cat breed with seeming similarities such as the Devon Rex. On top of this, the scientific understanding of the genetic mutation that is responsible for the Cornish Rex means that interested individuals can actually get a test done for their pets to make sure that they are carrying the right genetic mutation as well as make sure that their children have inherited it in truth as well.

Too Much Sunlight Can Be a Problem

Like other cat breeds, the Cornish Rex is susceptible to a number of particular problems, which is why interested individuals will want to learn about them beforehand so as to watch out for them. One excellent example is how cat owners shouldn’t let their Cornish Rex spend too much time bathing out in the sun. This is because their short hairs mean that their fur don’t provide them with much protection from the sunlight. As a result, the Cornish Rex can experience problems for prolonged periods of exposure to sunlight that would have no more than a minimal effect on other cats with fuller coats of fur. In the long run, this is something that can lead to serious medical problems because the UV component of sunlight has a similar effect on cats as it does on humans. As a result, cat owners will want to make sure that their Cornish Rex doesn’t spend too much time out in the sun, though it should be mentioned that this is no more than one of the potential issues with the cat breed to keep a watchful eye on.

They Don’t Need Too Much Grooming

With that said, the Cornish Rex has one more upside in that they don’t actually need much grooming for them to do their best. Generally speaking, members of this particular cat breed will be fine with not much more than a regular trimming of their nails as well as semi-regular cleaning of their ears. Meanwhile, too much grooming of the Cornish Rex’s fur is not recommended. After all, since their outer layer and middle layer of fur are missing, their under layer is very vulnerable, so much so that said hairs can actually get pulled out by too much grooming. Of course, if cat owners aren’t sure about something when it comes to their Cornish Rex, they shouldn’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian for further information, particularly since the particular quirks of the cat breed means that what is true for other cats might not necessarily be true for them.


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