Cornish Rex: The Party Animal

Two Cornish Rex kitties sitting on sand
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Would you consider yourself to be an extrovert or an introvert? If you’re an extrovert, perhaps you’re looking for a cat that’s just as cheerful and lively as you are. If you’re an introvert, perhaps you could benefit from a cat that will take over and handle interactions with other people for you when you can’t. Either way, the Cornish Rex could become your next best friend.

If you think of a cat and flaunts a nice curly fur in the same style as the Marcel wave, well that’s the Cornish Rex in simple terms. Why a Cornish Rex and not a Devon Rex? The Cornish Rex is the twelfth most popular cat in America—unusual and affectionate—so why not? The Cornish Rex is also playful, social, and friendly. Grooming is a breeze, and they are generally healthy. The cat is sophistication and class on the outside and down to earth fun on the inside.

A Cornish Rex cat sitting and looking far away

In this article, we bring you all relevant details on this unusual, acrobatic feline. We’ve covered their breed characteristics, Cornish Rex weight, and other interesting highlights will help you decide whether this is the right breed for you or not.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Average; they don’t do well in places that are too hold or too cold
  • Grooming: Low Maintenance; they don’t have an overcoat—only an undercoat
  • Health: Average
  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good
  • Exercise Needs: Active; requires daily exercise
Cat Breed GroupShort-Haired, Mixed Breed
WeightMales: 8-10 pounds

Females: 5-7 pounds
Lifespan10-15 years

Cornish Rex originated in Cornwall, England, in 1950. The breed was accepted and recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1964. Its name is a marriage between Cornwall and Rex. The “Rex” part of the name was inspired by how similar the cat’s coat was to that of a Rex rabbit.

The cat’s coat is curly, and the same holds true for their whiskers. Their unusual coat comes in varying colors and patterns. The Cornish Rex has bat-like ears and an egg-shaped head. They are blessed with long limbs and dainty looks. Their eyes are usually hazel, green, yellow, brown, or blue in color, and they sit just above a high cheekbone. Their elegant face is completed by a bridged Roman nose.

Studio image of a Bicolour Cornish Rex

This small to medium-sized cat is social, affectionate, friendly, and outgoing. Cornish Rex cats are always on the prowl for more attention. They love to play games, and they are known to entertain their owners with acrobatics. The Cornish Rex is one of the easiest cat breeds to groom thanks to their downy, curly fur.

The Cornish Rex is often compared to a greyhound dog because they have an arched back, a barrel chest, well-developed hips, and long legs which they use for their high-powered jumps and fast turns. They are also rather dog-like in their enjoyment of the game “fetch.”

The Cornish Rex is generally healthy, but certain ancestry lines of the breed can be prone to thyroid problems and heart diseases. Their lifespan is between 10 to 15 years, but fifteen years is by no means the limit. One Rex is rumored to have lived well into their thirty-seventh year.

Main Highlights

  • The Cornish Rex got their name from the similarity of their curly fur to that of a Rex rabbit, and because their hometown is called Cornwall.
  • The cat only has one layer of downy fur. This hair is actually the undercoat in other cats, so the Cornish Rex doesn’t have an outer coat.
  • The Cornish Rex got full recognition from the Cat Fanciers Association in 1964.
  • Despite their short hair, the Cornish Rex is not hypoallergenic.
  • The breed comes in different colors and patterns as a result of their diverse foundation stock.
  • The breed was created as a result of the natural genetic mutation of a gene on chromosome A1. It was called the Lysophosphatidic acid receptor (LPAR6). This is the gene responsible for the cat’s wooly hair.
  • Cornish Rex cat personality is affectionate, adventurous, active, and intelligent.
  • The Cornish Rex’s outgoing nature makes them suited for work as therapy pets.
  • They love to interact and socialize, so they are great with children and other pets.
  • The Cornish Rex does not do well on their own; it is advisable that you get them a companion if you are often away from home for prolonged periods of time.
  • The cat’s rear legs are distinctly longer than their front ones.
  • Each strand of fur is curled and fine, including their whiskers.
  • The average litter size is six.
  • They can be trained to wear a harness.

Breed History

The Cornish Rex originated from Cornwall in Great Britain in the home of Nina Ennismore and Winifred Macalister. In summer 1950, a tortoiseshell cat called Serena gave birth to a litter of five after mating with an unidentified cat. The suspicion of fatherhood lies on a short-haired red tabby called Ginger—one of Serena’s littermates.

One of the kittens was unusual in shape and coat texture; he was named Kallibunker. As a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation, he was missing his overcoat and only had an undercoat with downy, curly fur. The other kittens had straight short hair.

Fascinated by the unique traits of Kallibunker, Nina began out-crossing him with short-haired cats, and so the breed Cornish Rex was born.The Cornish Rex cat breed continued to grow stronger in Great Britain with the help of Poldhu—Kallibunker’s grandson. One of Kallibunker’s kittens—Lamorna Cove—was also exported to the United States to help spread the breed. There, the cats were outcrossed with the Siamese.

Bicolour Cornish Rex in a studio

A similar mutation that can be compared to that of the Cornish Rex was claimed to occur in a cat named Kirlee. Her owner, Miss Beryl Cox, claimed that the kitten was also born with a curly coat, but after she was bred with a Cornish Rex, the litter produced straight-haired kittens.

In 1963, the Cornish Rex cat breed gained recognition by the American Cat Fancier Association (ACFA) and The Canadian Cat Association. The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized the breed in 1964 and finally it acquired acceptance in all cat registries worldwide.


The Cornish Rex is a medium-sized cat. The females are smaller in size than the males, weighing only between 5 and 7 pounds whereas the males weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. They have a unique, egg-shaped head. They are sturdy and agile, with a body that’s arguably disproportionately long when compared to the head. They have bat-like ears and a long, whippy tail.

Personality and Character

The Cornish Rex is an attention-seeking cat, and they earn it by performing tricks and funny antics. They are playful and remain kitten-like in behavior even in adulthood. They love their family, but they also act affectionate towards strangers.

These cats are curious and playful, so they are always down for a game of hide and seek. A bit dog-like in nature, they would eagerly play fetch. Because of their coat texture, they are always seeking warmth, so they are happy to snuggle in your lap or cuddle on the couch with you.

Image of a black and white cornish rex cat sitting

These cats are a ball of energy and usually expend it by jumping, leaping, and doing acrobatic displays for any fascinated onlooker. They are deft with their toes and fingers—able to open cabinets and cupboards after watching how you do it for long enough.

These cats can be vocal with different tones and decibels of sounds. The Cornish Rex will chirp, squeak, meow, cluck, and a whole lot more. They won’t hesitate to voice their demands, so they may not be all that suitable for potential pet owners that need quiet cats because they live in an apartment.

Health and Potential Problems

The Cornish Rex is generally healthy, but they do have some hereditary diseases that have been known to affect their breed over the years; these include:

  • Umbilical Hernia: This is a defect in the abdominal wall around the umbilicus area. In this case, a part of the intestines or other abdominal organs may protrude through the abdominal wall. This disease may come about as a result of genetics or some other causes.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: This is a heart disease that is common in some cat breeds like the Maine Coon and the Cornish Rex.
  • Congenital Hypotrichosis: This one is also known as hereditary baldness—usually caused by a recessive gene. The Rex already has little hair. However, some cats among this breed are even less covered in the fur than others. Those unfortunate few are plagued with hypotrichosis.

Care Features

The Cornish Rex easily gets hot and cold because of the absence of their overcoat. Ensure that you keep them warm and dry during the cold or the rainy season. When it becomes hot, avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or the heat to avoid damaging their skin.

Keep your Rex indoors to protect them from car accidents, diseases, other animals, and the weather. If you are cold, then your Cornish Rex is probably freezing. You can buy them a sweater that fits and apply cat-safe sunscreen to protect them from sunrays when you need to take them out of the house.

Close-up image of a cornish rex with big eyes

Provide cat trees or towers for your cat to enable them to indulge in climbing, jumping, and playing to their heart’s content. The Cornish Rex loves to fetch stuff, and they do best in households that always have someone to keep them company.

It is advisable that you keep them engaged with lots of toys if there is no one around to keep an eye on them. This will prevent them from engaging in mischievous activities that may leave you with no other choice but to discipline them later.

Feeding Schedule

You should feed your Cornish Rex a mix of both dry and wet food. Both of these should contain cod liver oil as a vitamin supplement at least. Also, ensure that there is no wheat or wheat products in your choice of food.

To maintain their sturdy build, your cat should be fed high-quality protein that will supply the nutrition required to maintain the active lifestyle of your Rex. Also, conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA) which will build muscle tissue over fat should be included in their diet. L-Carnitine, which is responsible for turning reserved fat into an energy source, should also be present.

Two cornish rex cats sitting side by side

You can buy canned foods designed for active cats or those made for Siamese cats if available. The Cornish Rex likes to eat in small portions all through the day, so it is advisable to leave the food out for them so that they will have access to it whenever they are afflicted with the munchies.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The coat of the Cornish Rex is soft, curly, and short. Unlike some other cat breeds that have an undercoat, an overcoat, and a middle layer of hair, the Rex comes dressed only with their undercoat. Their coat sheds, but not as frequently or noticeably as in some other cat breeds. This is partly due to the fact that the fur is too fine to be seen on fabrics or furniture.

Early individual cats of this breed were mated with the British Shorthair, the Burmese, and the Siamese, so their coat comes in various colors and patterns. The accepted breed standard colors are white, black, chocolate, orange, shades of blue, lilac, and cream. The accepted patterns include tabbies with the classic pattern, mackerel or ticked.

Image of a cornish rex kitty sitting next to a cat tree

The Cornish Rex does not need to be bathed often—once a month or perhaps even every two months will do. Brushing can be done with your hands because they have downy fur which is only about 1cm long. You may use a fine brush to remove loose hair once or twice a week. Teeth brushing is recommended to keep periodontal diseases at bay. Wipe visible dirt from their eyes and ears with a clean, damp cloth. Trim their nails as often as needed

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Cornish Rex is extremely mild-tempered and playful, so they are very compatible with children. They will eagerly retrieve toys for your child, play fetch, and learn new tricks from them. Although these cats generally to be handled and carried, you will still have to teach your children how to do it correctly. With other pets and cats, the Rex will fit in. There won’t be any problems except if the objection comes from the other pets. Therefore, make sure you introduce your Rex to any resident pets carefully and gradually.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, the Cornish Rex is outgoing, intelligent, adventurous, and fun-loving. They tend to steal the spotlight in both cat shows and family gatherings. You can say that they are never scared to be the life of the party when they can. They also form a strong attachment to their owners. They will get depressed if left alone. They will fit in with any family setting as long as their need for attention is properly attended to.

cornish rex cat sitting and looking at the view

A research study on the Cornish Rex revealed that about 10% of the people who were allergic to cats were able to tolerate the Cornish Rex. We advise that you test your allergy in catteries that breed Cornish Rex cats before getting yourself a Rex.

Is the cheerful and fearless Cornish Rex the right cat for you? We understand that not everyone finds extroversion to be ideal, however, which is why if you prefer laidback cats that won’t demand too much of your attention but will still keep you company faithfully, we have another suggestion for you. We would love to get your feedback. Before you leave, we hope you can find the time to comment below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.