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old tin mine Devon.jpg
Kirlee 2.jpg
                             cornish rex

                             cornish rex

Broughm 1.jpg
Annelida Smoky Pearl.jpg
Annelida Calidor and Sea-Witch.jpg
Annelida Ebony.jpg
Annelida Sunset Gleam.jpg
Sunbronze Danny boy and Hephaestos Roman.jpg
Champion Hassan Truffles.jpg

in the begining

In 1960 a new coat mutation was discovered in the cat. Ten years earlier, cats with curly coats had been born in Cornwall, England. By this time, their descendants were being displayed at cat shows around London. Miss Beryl Cox happened to see photos of these unusual cats and recalled having seen a large tom cat with masses of curls living in an abandoned tin mine in Buckfastleigh, Devon, England. Miss Cox took in a tortie and white pregnant stray who gave birth to a litter of kittens. In the litter was a curly-coated male kitten. She named him Kirlee and kept him for her pet. She contacted Mr. Stirling-Webb after seeing photos of the curly-coated Cornish Rex. It was assumed that Kirlee was a relative of the already existing breed, but could nevertheless be used in a breeding program adding to the gene pool. Miss Cox allowed Mr. Stirling-Webb to use Kirlee, and after test matings with several Cornish queens, only straight-coated kittens resulted! It soon became clear that although Kirlee had curly hair, a new rex gene had been discovered! Many other test matings were tried, with the same results; straight-coated kittens! After mating brothers and sisters together, some curly-haired kittens were born, but it was impossible to tell which curly gene they possessed. It was decided that the Cornish (Gene 1) and the Devon (Gene 2) were not compatible, and it was advised to discontinue further crossings between the two.



Kirlee was then mated to several British Shorthairs. His straight-coated daughters were brought back to him for breeding, and these litters resulted in 50% curly kittens. This showed that the Rex gene is a recessive according to the Mendelian theory that a recessive gene is produced in a 1:1 ratio in a back-cross to the original recessive genotype. This then became the foundation for the Devon breed. All Devons today should be able to trace their ancestry back to Kirlee, the first Devon Rex!


It also became quite clear that Kirlee was of completely different "type" than Kallibunker; the first Cornish Rex. His coat was mole-grey and he looked like a little pixie. He had wide cheeks, a short face, and huge ears like bat wings! Kalli had a slightly longer head, high-set ears and a straight, Roman nose. Although both Kirlee and Kalli had huge ears, Kirlee's low-set ears were covered with tufts of hair on the back creating an "earmuff" like effect that is unique to Devons.

After several additional attempts, it was apparent that Kirlee represented a completely separate genetic variation than that found in the other "Rex" cats (who became referred to as "Gene I" Rex, as opposed to Kirlee's "Gene II"). Work proceeded apace to establish both as independent breeds.

The "Gene I" Rex cat became known as the Cornish Rex, due to their origin in Cornwall, England (quite close to Devonshire), and has a curly coat with no guard hairs, and awn hair that is difficult to distinguish from the down. The body type is somewhat reminiscent of the "oriental" breeds of cats (such as Siamese), and the head is comprised of a series of smooth oval shapes.



Kirlee and the "Gene II" Rex cats became known as the Devon Rex, and established a look and breed characteristics distinctly their own. The Devon's coat contains all three types of hairs, although somewhat modified, and has a larger and looser curl than the Cornish Rex. The body type is very different as well, stockier and more heavily built, with a broader and shorter head with lower ears, and the distinctive "pixie" or "elfin" that has come to be the hallmark of the Devon look.

In 1967, Great Britain's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the distinction between the two breeds, and wrote standards to allow each of them into competition as distinctive breeds of cat.






The Devons became very popular among many who were attracted to not only their unique appearance, but their distinctive personalities as well. Alison Ashford, an early Devon breeder writes the following about her introduction to the Devons:


I visited Mrs. Sedgefield of Esher one day in 1962, and saw Du-Bu-Debbie, a young tortoiseshell, with her litter of Rex and 'plain' kittens. One kitten jumped into my arms from the floor, and literally refused to be put down. I tried to turn away, but loud purring and a wagging tail were prelude to another amorous leap.

This was Broughm, then six months old. I could not then really afford the price of a Rex kitten, but I could not leave him. So I rashly wrote a cheque on my housekeeping account and phoned home to warn my husband to have a bed ready for the new acquisition.

I was given a somewhat cold reception when I arrived home, but Broughm's charm soon convinced the family that it would be worth eating bread and cheese for the next month"


All Devon Rexes can trace their ancestry back to Kirlee. Sadly Kirlee was killed in a road accident in 1970.

Great debt of gratitude is owed to Alison Ashford and to those like her who contributed so greatly to the breed that we have come to know and love.

By 1967, the Devon Rex was accepted for competition in Europe (GCCF) and Mrs. Gentry's Amharic Kurly Katie, bred by a Mrs. Knight, became the first Devon Rex Champion in any association. Since that time, the British-bred Devon Rex have traveled to many countries where new eager enthusiasts were engaged in the endeavor of bringing these pixies to the world.






crossing the seas

The first Devon to cross the Atlantic was Annelida Smokey Pearl, (next column) who was sent to Miss Mary Carroll of Canada. Shortly thereafter, Annelida Callidor (next column)  joined Pearl. There were, however, no known breedings that took place with these cats.

 The first North American breeding program of Devon Rex was established in 1968. Marion White and her daughter Anita had become familiar with the breed following a military posting in England. Two lovely cats, Annelida Aubretia and Wigmel Black Witch, winged their way across the great ocean and came to live with the Whites in their home in Austin, Texas. Anglo-Tex Devon Rex was born with these two cats chosen by Alison Ashford.




In 1969, Shirley Lambert, of Bob'N Shir Cattery, imported Hesperian Orchid and Wigmel Telaman to her home in Texas. The pair were seal-pointed Devons, and were the first pointed Devons in America. The Whites and the Lamberts imported a few more Devons, and together they worked with a combined breeding pool of eight cats. Among those Devons imported were Annelida Sunset Gleam of Anglo-Tex, Redcliffe Pegasus of Bob 'N Shir, Hadrian Blue Angel of Anglo-Tex, and Toby Touchstone of Van Dol.

The interest in the Devon Rex in North America continued to grow. Over the next several years, ten new breeding programs were begun and forged ahead down the road of helping to establish this wonderful breed in the U.S. and Canada.

In 1974, Becky Curneen, of Far North Cattery, imported a pair to Washington State. Delores Johnson, of Dee Jon Cattery, imported three Devons to Oregon. Frank and Wendy Chappell, of Yclept Cattery, imported five Devons to British Columbia. Frances Kirkham, of Cal-Van Cattery, imported a pair to Alberta.

In 1977, Ann Gibney, of Scattergold Cattery, returned from England with her first Devon, Annelida Pervinca, and she added a second one in 1980.

In 1978 the single greatest influx of Devons to the U.S. occurred when British breeders Roma and Lajla Lund, of Homeacres Cattery, immigrated to the United States bringing with them well over a dozen of their Homeacres Devons.


In 1980, Mary Robinson, of Marya Cattery and a Persian breeder at the time, fell in love with pictures of a New Zealand cat named Annelida Seagull. She tracked down the breeder and imported three Devons from New Zealand to Canada.

In those 12 years between 1968 and 1980, the core of the North American Devon Rex breeding program was established.


Since the late 1960s, breeders in many countries have been active in working with the Devon Rex, including those from many European countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

The United State's largest cat registry, the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) recognized the Devon Rex as a breed eligible for championship competition in 1979.



To this day, Devon breeders have maintained the original look of the Devon Rex.


(My personal favourite, fabulous type - one of Broughams kittens, yes that early on)!





Photos of today's kittens look remarkably just like photos of the earliest Devon Rex.


Sunbronze Danny Boy



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