Everyone in the world can recognize the most common type of cat there is: the domestic short hair, and most can also recognize the long-hair. There are, however, some cats whose coats defy the norm.
The uniquely furry Rex breeds – and, yes, they’re the kings of the cats! – all suffer from a genetic mutation, which manifests as abnormalities in their coats.
This mutation isn’t exclusive to cats and can also be seen in other small mammals like rabbits. It expresses mainly by the affected animals not having guard hairs on their coats, which makes the remaining underfur wavy or curly.
Cornish Rex: First Of Its Kind
The first Rex was discovered in Cornwall, England, during the 1950s, and these cats with their very soft, crimped/wavy coats most certainly made waves.
The breed is a favorite among cat fanciers and has often won Best of Show awards. Cornish Rexes are playful, hardy and very active, and even people with cat allergies can usually live with them.
Devon Rex: The Pixie Of Cats
Hailing from Devonshire in England, these loyal, intelligent and affectionate cats sport coats that range in style from fluffy-curly to velvet-like down.
Unique among the recognized breeds, these felines with their huge eyes and basin-like ears have been called the pixies of the cat world, but this hasn’t stopped them from being a CFA-recognized breed.
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German Rex: The European Connection
Coming from the continent, German Rexes differ from their British counterparts because their coats’ awn hairs – the middle layer between the down and the guard hairs – are very short and densely packed.
This makes their coats rather oily, and, unlike the Devons or the Cornishes, the Germans have to be groomed quite often.
Selkirk Rex: Felines Of Fluff
Unlike the other Rexes, no layers of fur are missing on the Selkirk Rexes with the result that they’re the fluffiest cats with the waviest and curliest coats in existence.
They come in both short- and long-haired varieties, and they’re found in all imaginable colors. Selkirk Rexes originate from the US where an enterprising breeder once cross bred a random extremely curly-haired cat with a Persian!
LaPerm: The Permed Cat
Oregon 1982 saw the birth of a very special breed in the form of Curly the Kitten, who was born bald but who developed beautiful soft, downy fur over the first few months of her life.
Over the next few years, as Curly’s family grew, her human realized she had another Rex mutation on her hands, and she’s refined the breed ever since. Similar to a Selkirk Rex, but with a thinner coat, the LaPerms are healthy, outdoor cats whose name literally means “cats with perms”!
Apart from the rexes, there are several other breeds whose coats are extreme including the American Wirehair and the Lykoi (“werewolf” cat!).
There are also cats that moult and cats whose fur is so dense you can literally write your name in it, but that’s another story!