Most cats have thick, straight coats, but occasionally, unusual cats show up. When a curly-furred kitten showed up in Germany in the 1950s, it attracted immediate attention. Seventy years later, that kitten’s descendants form a rare club—a tiny breed of curly-furred cats called German Rexes.
Families with children, multi-pet homes
Intelligent, outgoing, and mischievous
German Rex cats are among the rarest cats in the world, and this breed is just getting off the ground. But if you’re lucky enough to own one, you’ll adore your friendly, sweet-tempered, and slightly mischievous furry friend.
German Rex Characteristics
German Rex Kittens
German Rex kittens are hard to come by, so if you don’t already have a connection, you might struggle to find a kitten at any price. These cats are more common in Europe and the UK and are only just coming to America. Because German Rexes are a smaller breed that isn’t recognized by the CFA or other major cat registries, it can be hard to know if you’re getting a real German Rex. Look for breeders who can tell you your kitten’s pedigree and explain how their cats are connected back to the German origins of the breed. Also, look for a breeder who takes good care of the cats in their care, including being up to date on vet work and giving cats and kittens sufficient space to exercise and socialize, high-quality food, and other necessities.
Along with adoption costs, you should be prepared to meet all the expenses that come with cat ownership, including food, equipment, and vet care.
Temperament & Intelligence of the German Rex
Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪
Overall, the German Rex is a friendly, outgoing breed that loves people. It often does well with strangers, and many German Rexes love to play with children. German Rexes often have a silly streak and are very playful and even impish. This makes it ideal for families with children.
If you choose to have cats in your family, it’s important to teach young children how to play with them safely. Children should be supervised around cats until they are old enough to play with cats gently. They should also know to give a cat space if needed and not force it to play. Letting your baby pull ears and tails isn’t cute, and even the most patient cats might reach a breaking point, so it’s important to watch small children around cats and redirect their behavior.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
German Rex cats can usually get along well with other cats and dogs. They are known to be confident and assertive, and with good preparations, it’s usually possible to integrate them into a multi-pet household. If you plan to introduce your German Rex into a household with dogs, make sure that your dog is socialized to cats as initial barking, growling, and aggressive behavior is hard to undo. Whenever you introduce a new pet to your household, take your time in allowing them to meet safely and supervise them over their first few meetings to help them get along well.
German Rex cats are generally playful and high-energy, so they can pose a danger to small birds, mammals, and fish. If you have small pets in your home, it’s important to keep their enclosure safe from your cat and supervise any direct contact to keep your small pets safe.
Things to Know When Owning a German Rex:
Food & Diet Requirements
German Rex cats need a quality diet of high-protein cat food with a healthy amount of fat and few fillers. They are fairly active cats, so a nutritious diet will help them. They are not especially prone to obesity but like any cat breed, they should not be overfed to keep them healthy. As your cat ages, he will need less food and exercise, so it’s important to adjust diet throughout your cat’s life to keep his weight in balance.
German Rexes are high-energy cats that need a lot of exercise. They love to climb and jump, so good climbing trees are a great option. They also need various types of toys, including toys that they can play with on their own and interactive toys that let you socialize with them. Giving your cat space to exercise and new and engaging toys will help him stay healthy and engaged. Boredom is a frequent cause of cats’ misbehavior, so an enriching environment is key to managing your German Rex.
These are intelligent and social cats, so it’s not surprising that training them is more successful than with some breeds. However, they can be curious and stubborn, so it may take some patience! Generally, basic behavioral training can be successful with lots of positive reinforcement and attention. Some German Rexes are also great candidates for leash training and more complicated training. If you want to teach your German Rex to walk on a leash or play fetch, try using a combination of praise and treats to encourage him.
German Rexes don’t need brushing, but they might need occasional bathing. Because they don’t have long hair shafts to distribute oils, they often get greasy skin. Bathing your cat with a mild cat shampoo every few weeks as needed will help your cat’s skin and coat stay healthy. If you continue to see skin problems, speak to a vet to see if you need to make other changes to your grooming routine.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Rex cats are fairly healthy, but there are some conditions1 to watch out for. Because Rex cats have an unusual coat, German Rexes might need extra skin and coat care. They are more prone to yeast infections and dental issues than other cats as well. In addition to these minor conditions, many closely related breeds often suffer from a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition is not specifically linked to German Rexes, but it is possible that it is linked to the rex gene.
Male vs Female
Both male and female rex cats are fairly similar in temperament, and socialization generally matters a lot more than gender. However, spaying and neutering do make a big difference! In general, cats that are spayed or neutered are less aggressive, less likely to spray, and more affectionate. They are also more relaxed and less anxious.
3 Little-Known Facts About the German Rex
1. “Little Lamb” the Hospital Cat
The German Rex first came about because of a friendly stray living in a hospital garden. When a doctor noticed her soft, curly fur, he named her “Laemmchen” or Little Lamb and started writing geneticists about the strange mutation. Within a few years, curly-haired kittens were being bred, and the breed was born.
2. Curly Cousins
German Rex cats have beautiful curly coats that are carried on a recessive gene. Their coat is believed to come from a different mutation of the gene that causes Cornish Rex cats, another curly-coated breed.
3. Overcoming Near Extinction
Even though early breeding efforts were successful, the German Rex never reached stable numbers. By the 1990s, the breed was nearly extinct. Two cat breeders came together to rescue the breed, searching across Germany for cats with the same coat mutation. Since 2000, the revival program has saved this breed from the brink of extinction.
Overall, the German Rex is a rare but incredible breed that deserves a chance to shine. Although it’s not as popular as its British cousins, it is growing in popularity and recognition. These cats are friendly and excitable, and they make great pets for all kinds of owners.
Featured Image Credit: Prasanna photography, Shutterstock