Cornish Rex Coat




Gold Champion of Champions
Koshka Denim 'n  Lace




























The Cornish Rex coat is unique in the cat world for its silken texture, density and depth of ripple, wave and curl. In order to appreciate the uniqueness of the Cornish Rex coat, it is worthwhile examining the different types of hairs in the coat and therefore determining, what makes a normal domestic cat's coat, "normal" and the Cornish Rex coat very different by comparison.


Origins: Cornish Rex cats have only been in existence since 1950, when the first curly coated kitten, a male, named Kallibunker, was born in a litter of normal coated farm/barn cats. Nina Enismore, the owner,  and her vet, recognised the significance of the mutant coat gene and began a breeding program. Also see, Breed History page for more information.



Defining the 'Rex' Coat


Biologists divide the normal cat coat into two basic groups: long guard hairs (topcoat), and awn hairs (undercoat). The awn layer can be further subdivided to include soft down hairs; these two layers are essential for preventing heat loss. The down hairs, while very dense, are extremely soft and fragile, and are crimped or wavy along the full length of the shaft.

The strong outer guard hairs lie flat over the awn and down and assist in trapping the body heat  in close to the skin and also protects the inner, fragile awn, and the soft down hairs from sustaining environmental damage. Unlike other domestic breeds, the Cornish Rex coat does not contain guard hairs: only the soft silky awn and down hairs  (see diagram below).




The omission of the strong straight guard hairs enables the awn hairs to form a deep, wavy or crimped appearance from the top of the head on the forehead between the ears, to the very tip of the tail.

The Cornish Rex coat is also incredibly soft to touch. Because the coat does not carry any strong, course guard hair it is downy and feels similar to crushed velvet.

The Cornish Rex coat should always be stroked from the head to the tail. Backward stroking disrupts the lay of the ripples, and because of the fragility of the hairs, may cause damage in the form of splitting and breaking if repeatedly brushed in the wrong direction.


The Perfect Rex Coat





Birth to Full Coat


Cornish Rex kittens are always born with visibly wavy coats, but depending on the genetic lines, may lose this birth coat in the first week, and by 3 weeks, the coat looks like suede. However, by 12 weeks, the coat should be dense and waved. Baldness in any area of the body, or fine coverage with little or no ripple is considered a major fault.


New Born


One Week Old


  The ripples are clearly visible in the coats of these new born Cornish Rex kittens.


Charian Black Majic
Week old kittens losing the ripples


6 Weeks
Koshka Zeus - Black Smoke


 8 Weeks
Koshka WRX (Rex) - Blue






Coat has flattened out since birth and at 6 weeks is at the suede stage


Ripples beginning to reappear
in the coat at about 8 weeks


12 weeks
Koshka Lilac 



A visible sheen is apparent on the nearly fully formed ripples at 12 weeks of age


Magnified View of the Ripple



Special thanks to Christine St. Clair and David Taylor for the above photograph of Obanya Baby's coat. David kindly adapted the graphic to produce this great diagram highlighting the stunning quality and sheen on the ripples of the perfect Cornish Rex coat.


Cornish Rex cats are bred in the full diversity of colours and patterns


Solids: Black, blue, lilac, brown, chocolate, red, & cream. There are several rare colours that are thought to be controlled by special genetic modifiers that little is known about that include, blue/lilac (blue with a pink overtone), mink (warmish brown).

Smoke: All the above colours but most visible in the darker shade and quite spectacular visually in black coated cats. The smoke hairs as the diagram shows (above), are shaded from the tip, covering nearly 2/3 of the shaft. The smoke coat looks solid in colour, but when parted, the pale roots are clearly visible.

Patterns: Tabby, spotted. These patterns are rare and not as popular as the ripples in the coat and the light they reflect do not do justice to the pattern, tending to break it up, causing the pattern to lose definition.

Bi-colour: Any of the solid colours mentioned above with white markings in large or small blotches, spots or drizzles (similar to a runny paint mark)

Colourpoint: Points bred in all the genetically possible colours, including all known solid and standard patterns mentioned above.


Final Note


The full, deeply rippled coat and glossy sheen develops quickly, in just a matter of weeks, once the ripples begin to reappear at around 6 - 8 weeks. In some lines, the ripples never flatten out. These kittens generally have deeply rippled and exceptionally dense coats, from birth. On the other hand, some lines never develop full rich coats, and some, never develop a good coat at all. This is a fault. Breeders are usually well versed in coat genetics and work with other breeders to ensure that the integrity of the "Cornish Rex" coat is maintained with a view to always achieving the Perfect Coat - a worthy pursuit, as shown in the photographs of "Denim" & "Baby".


Rex Cats - Hypoallergenic - Fact or Fiction


It has often been stated that the Cornish and other Rex cats are non-allergenic.  In reality, this is not the case. Around 10 - 15% of the world's population is allergic to cats and other animals with fur. The most common causes of these allergies are allergic responses to certain allergens that adhere to, and shed, from the coat. Several of the worst offenders are allergenic proteins excreted by glands in the skin and to a lesser extent  contained in saliva and urine and other allergens in dander from the skin. 

The protein secretions stick to the cat's coat when it licks and cleans, and to furniture, upholstery, carpets, bedding and clothing. Dander,  old skin that sheds from the cat in fine particles similar to talcum powder, is also a high allergenic characteristic that is common to all animals with fur.

While thought by some to have reduced levels of the abovementioned allergens, Rex cats  are not free of these characteristics. Statistics show that only around 10% of people who are allergic to cats are totally free of symptoms or become desensitised to Rex cats, which leaves another 90% who remain intolerant. At this stage, no firm scientific reasons have been found that identify why some people are less sensitive to the Rex breeds than others. If a person is sensitive to cats, it is recommended that  care and research be carried out before deciding to bring a "Rex" into a home. The most sensible option is to spend some time with a rex before making a decision.

Having said that ........

......It is certainly worthwhile for cat sensitive people to seriously investigate the Rex as a very real option as there are many very happy, and healthy, Rex owners who were previously unable to tolerate, let alone own a cat before they discovered the Rex.

The following links provide extensive information pertaining to cat allergens and what can be done to reduce the risks for cat sensitive people.

   Links relating to allergies


Cat World: Hypoallergenic Cats


All About Dander


Cats of Australia - Allergies