32 things to know about Devon rex cats

grey devon rex cat
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One of the newer cat breeds, the Devon rex has fascinating origins. Deep in rural England, a genetic mutation gave rise to a curly-coated kitten – who became the progenitor of the breed. 

Never mind that one of that kitten’s parents was a stray, the Devon rex is a true home cat who cherishes his people. Sensitive to both the sun and cold, this is a cat that loves to curl up on his human’s lap, bask on a warm window seat, or even perch on one of the best cat trees.

Fabulously friendly, full of mischief, intelligence, and fun, the Devon rex has other-worldly looks but a heart of gold. Let’s find out more about this enchanting breed.

32 things to know about Devon rex cats

1. Jolly jumpers

Devon rex cat jumping with mother and daughter

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These cats love to jump! And you can see why – with their lightweight body, long legs, and large toes, propelling themselves into the air is a cinch. Make sure they have plenty of climbing posts and perches as they’ll make the most of them – or they’ll just avail themselves of any shelves and high cupboards they can find. 

2. Clowns

Devon rex playing with toy fish

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With their prowess for jumping and general aerial acrobatics, the attention-seeking Devon rex has a reputation as a bit of a clown. One of the most playful cat breeds, they are active, energetic, and enchanting, and love nothing more than to perform for a captive audience. Plus, they can even be taught a few tricks.

3. Heat-seekers

Devon rex wearing jumper

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Minimal fur and a naturally lean physique mean they have very little subcutaneous insulation for keeping warm. They tend to seek out a cozy place for sleeping, such as sunny window ledges or warm cushions. Basking in the sun is a favorite activity, but be careful they’re not in direct UV rays as their lack of fur also means they burn easily.

4. No brushing

Devon rex cat looking uncomfortable with hairbrush

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A Devon rex’s fur is very sparse and fragile and they have almost no guard hair. They can sport bald patches just from self-grooming. This is a cat that needs no brushing – or you may cause the fur to break entirely. 

5. English origins

Black devon rex cat like the original Kirlee

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While they are popular in the US, featuring in the top five most popular cat breeds in 2024, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. However, the first Devon rex was born in the county of Devon, in the southwest of the UK, in the late 1950s. It was the son of a stray, a novel-looking, black, curly-haired kitten, which was named Kirlee. 

6. Poodles that purr

Close up of Devon Rex cat fur

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Devon rexes have many nicknames, among them "Poodle cat", due to their unique coat. Like a poodle, their fur is notable for its curls, waves, and kinks, rather than the more typical feline smooth coat.

7. Small but mighty

Devon Rex cat sticking tongue out

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Weighing in at around six pounds despite its long legs which make it a medium-sized cat on paper, the Devon rex is fine-boned and lithe. But don’t be deceived by its pixie look – it is big on personality, alert, active, and very lively. 

8. Elfin or alien?

Alien like face of Devon Rex kitten

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With its huge bat-like ears, large eyes, and high cheekbones set on a triangular face, the Devon rex is often called the Pixie or Alien Cat – it certainly looks a bit other-worldly, in a charming way. Which name do you think suits it best? 

9. Newcomers

Two devon rex cats cuddled up

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The Devon rex came into existence in the 1950s in the UK, but it wasn’t until 1983 that it was officially recognized as a breed in the US. Since then it has grown rapidly in popularity, featuring the top five most popular breeds in 2024. 

10. Weird whiskers

Devon rex cat green eyes and short whiskers

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 While the “cat’s whiskers” are definitely an aspirational quality, due to the fragility of the Devon rex’s fur, this is not one of their greatest assets. Unlike typical long feline whiskers, the Devon rex sports short, curly ones – if they are present at all. However, their whisker pads are prominent. 

Their whiskers break very easily – as do their eyebrows – which leads some to call their look designer stubble. 

11. Quirky kitties

Ginger devon rex cat up a tree

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Perhaps it’s their elfin look that makes them quirky, or their enchanting demeanor, but one thing’s for sure, this is a cat with personality. They are playful, and fun, love to play games like fetch and hide-and-seek one moment, and curl up sunbathing the next. They’ll keep you on your toes with their beguiling mix of feline dynamo and cuddle-bug.

12. Home sweet home

Devon rex cat sleeping on cat perch at home

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This is an indoor cat through and through. Without thick fur to protect them, they cannot withstand much in the way of weather – suffering both from sunburn and cold – nor are they tough enough for life on the street. They might enjoy a quick blast around the garden, but home for them is indoors.

13. Cuddly cats

Woman cuddling devon rex cat

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The ultimate lap cat, this breed is fond of attention and loves to be near their owner. They’ll follow you around the house and – unlike many cats – actively seek out a snuggle. They might be hoping you’ll share a bit of your body heat with them, as they struggle to regulate their own without much of an insulating coat. 

14. Myriad colors

Calico devon rex cat

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A Devon rex can be any color at all, with any kind of patterns and markings – solid, pointed, shaded, tortoiseshell, and more. This leads to dozens and dozens of color combinations. So, from lavender smoke to blue chinchilla, ticked tabby to cinnamon van calico, you name a color, there’s a Devon rex to suit.

15. Butterfly ears

White cat with big ears

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Gremlin, bat, or butterfly ears – however you want to describe them, the Devon rex’s lugs are a sight to behold. Low-set off a wide base and large compared to their dinky faces, they give this breed their cute pixie look. 

16. Special waves and curls

Curly coat of Devon Rex cat

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The curly, wavy, crinkly coat is a signature of the breed. The very first kitten was the son of a stray curly-coated cat, but was the only one with curls in the litter. Their coats are distinctive and unusual both in their waves and texture, varying from soft suede-like down to abundant curls.

17. Monkey in a catsuit

Devon rex cat with blue eyes up a tree

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Maybe the Devon rex has more nicknames than any other feline breed, thanks to its funky looks and fun-loving character. “Monkey in a catsuit” refers to their passion for jumping and climbing – and because they are forever playful with a slightly bonkers and mischievous personality. 

18. Heart-shaped heads

Pretty devon rex cat walking outside

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There’s something of the other-worldly supermodel about a Devon rex with their heart-shaped face, large eyes, and high cheekbones. Call it pixie, call it alien – it’s distinctively beautiful.

The Devon rex head is the most characteristic feature of the breed. While other rexes have curly coats, the triangular shape of the head, strong muzzle, short nose, and high cheekbones are unique to the Devon.

19. Genetic mutation

Curly grey coat of devon rex cat

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The very first Devon rex kitten, Kirlee, was sired by a curly-coated stray – however, it is believed to be a genetic mutation as the rest of the litter had standard coats. It’s a recessive gene, meaning that you can only produce a Devon rex with two Devon rex parents.

Initially, it was thought that the Devon rex was related to another curly-coated breed and near neighbor, the Cornish rex. However, the gene mutations are different, meaning that if you cross a Devon with a Cornish, you get normal-coated offspring.

20. The hypoallergenic question

Lady kissing devon rex kitten

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No cat is truly hypoallergenic, as it’s not just the hair, but also the dander that releases allergens. However, the Devon rex can be a good fit for a family with allergies. Their short curly coat means they shed less than your average cat, making them just one of the hypoallergenic cat breeds

21. Pedigree papers

2 Devon rex cats on scratching post

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The Devon rex breed began with a stray in the late 1950s but has become well-established as an official breed. They were accepted as a breed by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the UK in 1967, and into the Cat Fanciers’ Association in the US in 1979. 

22. Busy bodies

Devon rex cat tapping at fridge

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Devon rexes are eternally playful, as well as being very personable. They like to know what their owner is up to, they’re attention-seekers and constantly on the go. They make an ideal playmate for a family, as they have bundles of energy and are guaranteed to keep you on your toes all day long.

23. Sun-sensitive

devon rex cat out for walk in sunshine

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That short wavy coat may be one of their distinguishing features, but it gives the Devon rex little protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This means that they are best suited to indoor life (especially as they are sun-seekers due to enjoying its warmth) to minimize the risk of sunburn. 

24. People cats

Devon rex cat giving lady a kiss

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Not all cats love people – at least they don’t want to show it. Some are fearsomely independent, but not the Devon rex. They crave your attention and will do their best to entertain you with their jumps, climbing, and tireless playing so keeping your home stocked with some of the best cat toys is a must. 

When they do chill out, they’ll typically seek out their human to sit beside – or on top of. And when you show them affection, they’ll reward you with their loving purr. 

As the Cat Fanciers’ Association describe them: “They seem to be 99% personality and 1% cat”.

25. Highly intelligent

Devon rex cat tapping man's head

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This feline could definitely make the list of the easiest cat breeds to train. While they may act like monkeys with their silly antics, this is a highly intelligent breed. Teach your Devon rex some tricks and it will relish showing them off, and they can even be trained to do agility. This is one smart little kitty. 

26. Starring role

Devon and Rex in Lady and the Tramp movie

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It’s no surprise that with those distinctive high cheekbones, they’ve been snapped up by Hollywood. In the movie Lady and the Tramp, there are two Devon rexes – appropriately named Devon and Rex – a mischievous pair who seek to get Lady in trouble. 

27. The “other” Rexes

Cornish rex cat

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A rexed coat is the scientific name for the curls. There are officially only four curly-haired cat breeds according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association: the Selkirk rex, Cornish rex, Devon rex, and LaPerm – the rex mutation gives rise to a particular coat texture making the hair curly.

28. Lifespan

Devon rex cat kitten

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The average Devon rex life expectancy is nine to 15 years, though there is always the possibility that a well-cared-for, healthy cat could live into its late teens. 

29. How to groom

Devon rex cat in a towel

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As it is not recommended to brush Devon Rexes, due to their fragile fur, some suggest wiping them gently with a damp cloth to groom them. They can also be bathed periodically with one of the best cat shampoos. 

Clean the ears to prevent wax building up, and enjoy the fact that only minimal grooming is required, compared to some breeds, as this is not a coat that develops mats and knots. 


30. Hot water bottles

Devon rex cats with happy owner

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While their coats are not luxuriantly fluffy, the Devon rex is nonetheless akin to a hot water bottle when it hops onto your lap. They don’t have a higher temperature than other cats but because of their short coat, their body heat radiates out quite freely, making them feel warm to touch.

31. Shoulder-perchers

Devon rex cat on shoulder

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Devon rexes are natural jumpers, and they also love to be close to their humans. So, the natural place for them to alight is on your shoulder, like a parrot! Devon rexes often perch on people’s shoulders, the best place for keeping tabs on everything that is going on in the household. 

32. Inspiration for ET


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Movie director Stephen Spielberg is said to have based his 1982 blockbuster ET The Extra Terrestrial on his own Devon rex cat. The endearing alien certainly shares several qualities with this adorable feline breed – though no sign of their fabulous ears!

Martha Terry
Features editor

Martha is an experienced journalist working in both print and digital media. She specializes in the canine, equine and rural sphere where she has covered a wide range of topics from cloning animals and the ingredients for a perfect yard dog, to helping owners find the best canine GPS trackers on the market. When she’s not busy writing about dogs and horses, she’ll be found either aboard a horse or looking after the menagerie of pets in her care.