Devon Rex: Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Person petting Devon Rex cat under chin

 Cunfek / Getty Images

The Devon Rex is known for its alien-like appearance, marked by its large, low-set ears, big eyes, and triangular face. Aside from its striking facial features, the Devon Rex has a thin, wavy coat that comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. The breed was discovered in England in the 1960s and came to the US through a breeding program later that decade. The breed was recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1979 and gained Championship status in 1983.

The Devon Rex is exceptionally active, sociable, and friendly. Its athletic nature makes it a great playmate and compliments any family configuration. The Devon Rex has a predisposition to a few health conditions, but with regular visits to the vet, your cat should lead a healthy, high-quality life. This sweet, mischievous cat is a true gem.

Tabby Devon Rex on gray background
Devon Rex with Tabby Markings  Volchanskiy/Getty Images

Breed Overview

Other Names: Pixie cat

Personality: Active, playful, social

Weight: Six to nine pounds

Length: 18 inches long

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Colors: Any colors

Coat Patterns: Solid, tabby, shaded, tortoiseshell, calico, and more

Eye Color: Any color

Lifespan: 9 to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: England

Calico Devon Rex standing against wood wall
Devon Rex with Calico Markings  Olenalyzun/Getty Images

Devon Rex Characteristics

The Devon Rex is a small but mighty cat with a friendly temperament. The cat usually weighs between six and nine pounds and stops growing at around 12 months. While not as vocal as other breeds, these cats make themselves known through their vibrant personality and playful behavior. Devon Rexes love to cuddle up against humans and other pets in their family.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Devon Rex

The Devon Rex cat was first discovered in the Devonshire region of England in 1960 when a woman, Beryl Cox, stumbled across a novel, curly-coated kitten, which she named Kirlee. Cox initially believed that the kitten was related to the Cornish Rex breed. However, attempts to crossbreed Kirlee with Cornish Rex queens proved otherwise.

Kirlee was bred to female Cornish Rex cats to try to produce kittens sharing the same coat qualities of the Cornish Rex breed. Unfortunately, the mix only bred kittens with straight coats. Later, it was discovered that an unrelated gene mutation was responsible for the wavy coat, among other uniquely Devon Rex features. Following the realization, Cox developed a more comprehensive breeding program to preserve Kirlee's mutation.

In 1968, the first Devon Rex cat was imported to the United States, and by 1979, the breed received official recognition from the Cat Fanciers' Association. Today, the Devon Rex is available from reputable breeders throughout the country. The unique-looking breed is said to have inspired director Steven Spielberg's E.T., based on his own Devon Rex.

Devon Rex Care

Caring for your Devon Rex is relatively straightforward and standard to the care regimens of most domestic cats. Knowing how best to care for your cat is essential to improving its high quality of life.


The Devon Rex's outgoing personality has a natural inclination toward exercise. They require ample exercise, which you can conduct through teaching tricks and providing stimulating toys and surfaces on which to climb and jump. Training can strengthen the bond between you and your cat while giving much-needed mental stimulation to this intelligent breed. Devon Rexes are known for seeking out lofty spots during playtime or rest, so create spaces that accommodate your cat's energy needs.


There is no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic cat, but the Devon Rex comes close. Its very short coat sheds, but only minimally. It is considered one of the lowest maintenance shedding breeds, but you can still expect some light shedding.


The Devon Rex requires minimal grooming. Since the breed's coat only has sparse, breakable hairs, you won't need to brush frequently. Instead, you can gently wipe your cat's fur with a damp cloth weekly. Excessive grooming by you—or your cat—can lead to bald patches. You may periodically wash your Devon Rex as well. Keep an eye out for accumulated ear wax. You should regularly clean inside your cat's ears to ensure that wax buildup doesn't cause any issues.

Common Health Problems

While this breed isn't known for excessive health ailments, there are several conditions should be aware of.

  • Patellar luxation: A luxating patella occurs when a knee cap "pops out" of its regular location. Devon Rexes are thought to be genetically predisposed to the condition, which can cause lameness or an unusual gait.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common type of heart disease in cats. In this condition, the wall of the left side of the heart, which pumps blood out to the rest of the body, thickens with time. This can lead to congestive heart failure, blood clots, and heart arrhythmia. Devon Rexes are one of the cat breeds predisposed to this problem.
  • Devon Rex Myopathy: Devon Rex myopathy is a muscle weakness condition that usually affects the head and neck. Symptoms typically appear between three weeks to six months of age. This disease of Devon Rexes is hereditary and recessive.


The Devon Rex is known for its unique, almost alien appearance. They have large eyes, large noses, high cheekbones, and low-set rounded ears. Sometimes, the ears bear small tufts of fur. Devon Rexes have lean, muscular bodies, long, athletic legs, and large toes. Their short coats and prominent features make the neck and chest appear bony, but this cat is a powerful jumper.

The Devon Rex's short coat ranges from wavy to velvety. Because the Devon Rex has a fragile coat with little guard hair, it is prone to developing bald spots from excessive grooming. It also has easily-broken whiskers.

Diet and Nutrition

Devon Rexes have huge appetites and will go to great lengths to snatch food from the table or counter. Make sure not to let human food become a staple of your Devon Rex's diet, and avoid giving in to the cat's persistent begging. Instead, ensure that you give it quality cat food for effective weight management. Remember only to offer treats in moderation.

The Devon Rex usually does well on commercial cat food. Because of the energetic breed's high activity level, be sure to form a diet that accommodates accelerated calorie burning. Always consult your veterinarian before creating a diet for your cat.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Devon Rex

You're not likely to find a Devon Rex in a standard pet shelter. The best option for adopting a Devon Rex is to visit a shelter that specializes in the breed. However, it will be easier to find a Devon Rex for sale through a breeder. You can expect to pay between $600 and $1000 for a Devon Rex.

Devon Rex Overview

Devon Rexes make for great additions to any family. Their playful nature, often accompanied by some mischievousness, is perfect for high-energy owners ready to engage with their cats. The Devon Rex's large appetite can get it into trouble but know that it means no harm. The cats are relatively rare, but consider yourself lucky to have the opportunity to introduce the unique-looking Devon Rex into your life.

  • Allergy-friendly

  • Can learn tricks

  • Extremely playful

  • Mischievous

  • Requires ample attention

  • Large appetites

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

You might also be interested in learning more about these similar cat breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles

  • What's the difference between a Devon Rex and a Sphinx?

    One of the most notable differences between a Devon Rex and a Sphinx is the Sphinx's total hairlessness. While both cats have unique, elfish faces, they are different breeds.

  • Are Devon Rexes rare?

    The Devon Rex is a relatively rare cat breed. It's unlikely that you will find a Devon Rex at a standard animal shelter. Finding a Devon Rex breeder is the surest way to track down this special cat.

  • Do Devon Rexes make good pets?

    Devon Rexes make great pets, especially if you're equipped to provide your cat with attention and play. The breed is very active, and needs an owner who can match their energy.