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Devon Rex Cats

Updated on July 23, 2016
Classic Devon Rex Characteristics by rlz
Classic Devon Rex Characteristics by rlz

If you happen to be looking for a friendly, affectionate, intelligent, good-tempered and relatively maintenance free cat for a pet, you can't do much better than a Devon Rex.

(Trust writer Rick Zimmerman to know, having given house and home to three of these purebred cats over the last decade and a half.)

Pictured above is Miracle, a tortoise-shell gray Devon Rex male of about 4 years of age, who exhibits most, if not all, of the classic 'pixie'-like physical characteristics of the Devon Rex breed: a distinctly triangular head with an almost bat-like appearance, large ears, large eyes, relatively short snout, broken-off whiskers and a crinkle-curl (or 'marcelled') coat. Other distinctive, though less immediately-noticeable features of the Devon are rather large toes, small patch areas of very short fur growth bordering on baldness (usually on the top of the head, behind the ears, low on the neck, and on the stomach), and unusual 'cuts' or nicks in the lower edges of the ears. (You'll find even more unusual critters at rickzworld.)

Note Duchess' Patchy Near-Baldness & Broken Whiskers
Note Duchess' Patchy Near-Baldness & Broken Whiskers

Devons have quite a few very attractive attributes. First, they are nearly hypo-allergenic, allowing them to be well tolerated by those with mild pet allergies. Devons (and to a greater extent, Cornish Rex) possess this trait because they do not have the layer of longer, outer-coat, guard hairs of most cat breeds. Devons therefore do not have those guard hairs to be shed (along with the associated dander), meaning they evoke much milder allergic reactions, but also eliminate those rolling or clumping balls of guard hairs that most cat owners must remove from clothing or from beneath the couch. To a limited and much less noticeable degree, Devons will shed their shorter crinkly hairs. Over 7 years of having up to 3 indoor Devon Rex cats, we have very rarely felt compelled to vacuum or brush any shed cat hair.

Leo's Big Eyes Up Close & Affectionate
Leo's Big Eyes Up Close & Affectionate

The Devon's coat is usually tightly waved or crinkled. As their whiskers try to likewise coil and wave, they tend to get broken off, whether in grooming, wrestling or petting. In some cases, exceedingly long facial or eyebrow whiskers must be snipped before they can curl back into the cat's eyes to cause an irritation or infection. Devons tolerate such grooming well, and are also patient with having their claws clipped with standard fingernail clippers (a smart practice for the occasionally-outdoor cat, both to save one's furniture and drapes, and to allow the cat some defensive tools outdoors). Some breeders and Devon-fanciers recommend keeping the cat indoors, to prevent transmitted diseases from wildlife, and because the typical Devon's size may make it an inviting target for neighboring animal bullies. But we have always found our Devons enjoy and appreciate outdoor life. (And we appreciate the break from their near-constant attention!)

All Together Now!
All Together Now!

Devons also REALLY enjoy their indoor life. They are extremely good-natured, affectionate and intelligent. Cats that have significant human contact, especially when young, will strongly bond with one or more of their owners. And Devon's can be devilishly playful, more like puppies than cats, and will even occasionally bring their toys to their owner to signal play-time. These cats can be very athletic, are good jumpers (especially when playing), and love to nestle in nooks, crannies, cardboard boxes, clothes dryers, kitchen cabinets, plastic bags, in fact anything just-cat-sized. They are much less aloof than the typical housecat, will gravitate to your favorite chair and bed, and will often follow their human about the house. As one breeder advised us, "You will never go to the bathroom alone again." They are particularly fond of (some would say insistent at) nestling between one's neck and shoulder. The Devons can also develop a fairly consistent language with their owner, and are well able to make their feelings known. Their even-tempered natures enable them to make friends more easily than many other breeds, and they are much less likely to hide in the spare bedroom every time company arrives.

Aaaaaah!
Aaaaaah!

Though most cats spend a great deal of their time sleeping, you are likely to find your Devon sleeping less than you expect; there's simply too much interesting stuff happening with their human! They appear to have fairly active metabolisms, and therefore (to a somewhat lesser degree than hairless Sphinx cats) tend to radiate body heat. Devons are medium-sized cats, though their sleek coats may make them appear tinier.

For house and apartment dwellers, a Devon Rex kitten or cat may thus be the ideal pet: cute, perfectly sized, warm, affectionate, intelligent, playful, low-maintenance, and near-hypo-allergenic. As long as you don't mind leaving the bathroom door ajar!

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      ralwus 7 years ago

      I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone who has one, he loves it dearly. they are nice, but we have too many pets now or I might consider one. How do they do with dogs? My dogs love cats, my parrot does not so much. He tolerates ours though, and they have the utmost respect for his bite. LOL

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 7 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Most Devons are very affectionate and good with people or animals of all kinds. We have one that will sidle up to a new guest after perhaps 15 minutes or less, looking for food or petting or playtime (or just a really good scent).

    • M Selvey, MSc profile image

      M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great summary of the Devon Rex. We have two of them. My husband introduced me to them when we started dating. Since our marriage we bought one together which was supposed to be HIS birthday present but Luna tends to follow and cuddle next to me mostly. So, we are thinking of getting another one that will be more of his cat. We love how our Devons do like company and are always around to entertain when we have guests. Also, we have a Doberman Pinscher who loves the cats and the Devons don't seem to mind her either.

      P.S. I just read your profile and saw that you are a cartoonist. My husband is also a cartoonist, well a graphic artist. I wonder if there is something about the artistic personality that is drawn to the Devon Rex cats :-)

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      What drew us to Devons was probably a) my wife's life-long love of cats, and b) her development of allergies to cats, and c) her very creative side (she's also an architect, graphic designer & painter), though I'm very fond of them, too. We had to eyedropper-feed one of ours from infancy, so he loves human contact.

    • profile image

      Cherry Obsidia 6 years ago

      My Devon is a rescued girlie, who was very very shy when she moved in, but now has all of the characteristics described above and more! She has a tendency to nibble us when we're sleeping, and brings her toys to bed for us to play with once she's woken us up...

      And to continue the artistic tendency theme, I'm a jewellery designer and former tattooist...

    • MobyWho profile image

      MobyWho 6 years ago from Burlington VT

      Thanks for the useful and make-me-want-to-have-one info. If we end up in an assisted living place allowing pets, I'll check them out. (Allergies) Walking dogs all winter in Vermont is no picnic; but then, I lived in Cleveland once (the 50s) and your winter is every bit as rough as ours. Makes for sturdy people!

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Yes, MW, Cleveland winters are no more for the faint-hearted than those of Vermont (though I'm not sure how sturdy they've made me!). As you approach assisted living (won't we all?), you might like my hub 'Enjoy Growing Old!'.

    • MobyWho profile image

      MobyWho 6 years ago from Burlington VT

      An oxymoron if I ever saw one, but I'll check it out!

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks, MW!

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      martihanba 6 years ago

      We are fostering a rescued Devon (Dexter) and we fell in love with him, so we are adopting him. I am noticing that he is getting bald patches behind his ears. I don't notice him scratching or anything there. Is this typical? And for the record, I am a piano teacher and Dex likes to come and visit the students during their lessons.

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      martihanba: It is actually quite normal for Devon Rex cats to have bald or near-bald patches on them, often behind the ears. The tops of their heads can seem shaved close, and their bellies will sometimes have very short fur as well. They will also often have splits or nicks in the edges of their lower ears. They are quirky little critters!

    • profile image

      Jeaneen 6 years ago

      Still looking for a home for the cats. We have one devon at home and would love another. Could only take one though. you can contact me at jeaneenjeffery@gmail.com

    • GlstngRosePetals profile image

      GlstngRosePetals 4 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

      Yet another wonderful hub with a lot of insight. Thank you for the great share. Voted up!

    • rickzimmerman profile image
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      rickzimmerman 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      If you're ever in the mood for a Devon Rex cat, I've got perhaps one of two that I might be able to provide (if they don't start behaving RIGHT NOW!)

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