Cornish Rex cat breed information and advice

Cornish Rex cats are descended from a curly-coated farm cat named Kallibunker, born in Cornwall in 1950. Kallibunker’s unusual curly coat was the result of a spontaneous natural mutation. Similar curly coats are seen in the Rex rabbit, so the name Cornish Rex was given to the breed.

These cats are loads of fun and make excellent family pets with their active and curious personality. They don’t generally have a high prey drive, so you’ll be less likely to find a ‘present’ on the doormat. But they are extremely dextrous and have even been known to open cupboards, so you might have to ‘cat-proof’ your home.

Cornish Rex cat facts

Lifespan 9 - 12 years
How much £300 - £500+
Size small to medium
Weight less than 3 kg
Grooming low
Temperament lively, friendly, intelligent, gentle
Exercise low



Cornish Rex cat insurance

The Cornish Rex is a generally healthy cat, but a few health problems have been seen in the breed. Getting cat insurance for your Cornish Rex will come in handy if their natural curiosity gets the better of them and something goes wrong. With cover in place, your policy could help you with the costs of treatment for any new illnesses or injuries.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance is available for Cornish Rex cats from 8 weeks of age with injuries being covered after three days of the policy being taken out and illnesses from 14 days. If the insurance policy is taken out before your cat is 10 years old and you continue to cover them with Sainsbury’s Bank, their cover will be continued year after year, providing you keep renewing your policy.

How to care for a Cornish Rex cat

With a coat that requires little to no grooming, Cornish Rex cats are low maintenance to take care of. But like all cats, you’ll still need to give your furry friend a lot of care, so here’s some tips on feeding, exercise and cleaning to help care for your Cornish Rex.

If you’re unsure what to feed your Cornish Rex you can ask your vet which cat food they recommend, and how much to feed. Their diet should be nutritious, balanced and meet their energy requirements. The Cornish Rex has high activity levels, so you probably won’t need to worry about over-feeding them.

If you buy your Cornish Rex kitten from a breeder, ask if they can provide you with a feeding schedule. You should follow this and feed the same kitten food at the same time every day. If you want to change their diet, it’s best to do so gradually. Add small amounts of the new food to the old food, slowly increasing the new and reducing the old.

Cornish Rex cats are low maintenance and need almost no grooming, a hand groom once a week to remove any loose hairs is usually all that’s required. A soft brush or comb may be needed for those cats with a longer, thicker coat. As part of their grooming routine, it’s also a good idea to brush their teeth with a vet-approved toothpaste and trim their nails regularly.

It’s their coat that sets them apart, they have no guard hairs (outer fur) and just have a downy covering (or undercoat). This undercoat is fine and wavy or curly, but it’s worth noting that they can be susceptible to bald patches.

Cornish Rex cats also have curled whiskers and eyebrows and their coats come in a wide variety of colours and patterns. Coats can be pointed, self-coloured and tabby, with and without white colouring. More recently, colours of cinnamon, fawn and caramel have been introduced. Their faces are ‘egg-shaped’, and they have large ears and long legs.

Cornish Rexes are slender and athletic cats, they like to climb, so make sure they have a cat tree or perch so they can watch what’s going on. These are lively cats so make sure they have interactive or puzzle toys to keep them from becoming bored. If they become bored they can be destructive and start scratching your furniture or clawing at your carpet.

Cornish Rexes are intelligent and have dog-like behaviour, they’re easily trained and can be taught to play fetch and tricks. They will quickly pick up toilet, or litter training. You’ll need a litterbox per cat, if you have more than one cat in your household and you’ll need to keep these clean. Cats are fussy about bathroom cleanliness.



Temperament and behaviour

Cornish Rex cats are adventurous, active, curious, love exploring and are playful well into adulthood. They can be good at picking up things with their paws. You will need to be wary of their curiosity as they are known to open cupboards where they can and steal things from inside, so you may need to ‘cat-proof’ your home.

They’re not a vocal breed of cat, but they’ll still show signs to let you know what they want.

Common health problems

They may look dainty and fragile but Cornish Rex cats are generally robust and healthy. In addition to the common health issues that cats can have, they can be affected by a few breed-related problems. Regular health checks can help spot any problems. Taking out Cornish Rex insurance will mean any costs for these conditions will be covered.

Cornish Rex cats can suffer from hereditary baldness. Affected cats are either born hairless or lose their hair within a few weeks. If allowed outside, these cats will need sun protection, especially on their ears.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a serious heart condition that can affect many breeds of cats. Cardiomyopathy means disease of the heart muscle. In HCM, the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick which prevents the heart from working properly. This leads to heart failure. Many cats can remain stable on long-term medication but unfortunately, there’s no cure.

Some cat breeds including the Cornish Rex are susceptible to patellar luxation. This is a hereditary problem where the patella (kneecap) can become unstable and slip in and out of place. You might notice your cat hopping or limping. Surgery may be needed in severe cases to stabilise the patella. Ask your breeder if their cats have been screened and are free from this condition.



So, is a Cornish Rex cat right for you?

Cornish Rex cats are playful, affectionate and loyal, their energy makes them perfect companions for all households, including those with children, other cats and cat-friendly dogs. They don’t like to be left alone for too long so ideally should have one family member at home most of the day.

As they can feel the cold the Cornish Rex makes for a home-loving cat, naturally suited to an indoor life and curled up on someone’s lap.

Frequently asked questions

Do Cornish Rex cats shed?


Cornish Rex cats do shed, especially during the shedding seasons of spring and autumn. Some hardly moult at all, while others may shed all at once. Generally, they do have a lower tendency to shed than other cat breeds. This doesn’t mean that they’re more hypoallergenic than other breeds. However, they might cause less of a reaction so allergy sufferers may be able to tolerate this breed more than others.

How long do Cornish Rex cats live?


The lifespan of a Cornish Rex cat is usually between 9 and 13 years. It isn’t unusual though for them to live longer if well-cared for.

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Content provided from Vetstream's Vetlexicon Felis - www.vetstream.com/treat/felis

Vetstream Ltd (online) Cornish Rex. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/freeform/cornish-rex.

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Serena Brownlie, Phil Fox, Philip K Nicholls, Penny Watson (online) Heart: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/heart-hypertrophic-cardiomyopathy.

Vetstream Ltd (online) Cardiomyopathy in your cat Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/felis/owner-factsheets/cardiomyopathy-in-your-cat.

Sorrel Langley-Hobbs, Rosanna Marsella, Susan Rackard (online) Patella: luxation. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://www.vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/patella-luxation