The history of Cornish Rex Cats is expanded upon a bit here. The picture above is, I believe, of the famous discovered founding cat of the Cornish Rex cat breed, Kallibunker. He is a ginger colored cat. He looks very athletic and his tail is very whip like.
This is another picture of Kallibunker, I believe. The conformation is perfect and natural. Slightly rangy, very firm toned and looking a little like a feral cat in that there is very little fat on him. Maybe this is because the year was 1950 or thereabouts and this was a time when there was considerable austerity in England after the second world war. People were less fat too!
Bodmin Moor the area where Mrs Ennismore lived
photo by kernowseb
Kallibunker was the son of an “ordinary house cat” who was a tortoiseshell cat. Only Kallibunker was extraordinary. Mrs Ennismore, a resident of Bodmin Moor (see above) and the keeper of the Kallibunker’s mother took Kallibunker to her vet who referred Mrs Ennismore to a Mr A.C. Jude a geneticist who had already done work on the rex gene in other animals, mice and rabbits. Mr Jude had isolated 5 genes for the mouse rex coat and 3 genes for the rabbit. He had published his finding in a well known magazine, NATURE, entitled “A Rex Mutant in the cat” as he had noticed the same coat in cats. At the time he wasn’t sure whether the inherited mutant gene producing the curly coat was recessive or dominant. Mr Jude is the person, apparently, who first used the phrase “Rex cats” to describe cats with curly coats.
Mr Jude said that the genetic mutation seen in Kallibunker was the only example in England and he wanted to find out if the mutant gene was recessive or dominant.
To find this out Kallibunker was mated with his mother (sounds bad doesn’t it but this is fairly normal in the cat fancy to improve type). The resultant litter was 50% curly coated. Kallibunker, bless him, was bred back to his mother several times with the same result each time (i.e. 1:1 ratio of curly to non-curly).
When Kallibunker’s curly coated offspring were mated to normal house cats the result was cats with coats that were not curly. This established that the precious mutant curly coat gene of Cornish Rex cats was recessive (see cat coats curly).
Kallibunker died young sadly and one of his sons, Poldhu, carried the gene forward. Poldhu was a blue tortoiseshell curly coated cat. Poldhu’s sister, Lamorna was exported to America and a cream/white half brother to Poldhu, aptly named Champagne Chas (Champagne Charlie is a well known Victorian song – see picture below) was kept by a certain Mr Stirling-Webb to breed from.
Champagne Charlie poster
of George Leybourne
In the 1960s cat breeders of this breed developed a more cobby (stocky) cat by outcrossing with British Shorthair cats (nice cuddly looking cats). As Kallibunker was more rangy (cat fanciers call this foreign or oriental) the conformation was gradually pulled back to a more slender appearance initially by the importation from Canada of an oriental type, 4th generation descendant of Kallibunker named Rio Vista Kismet.
In the USA the slender appearance of Cornish Rex cats was developed further as can be seen in the pictures on the main page about this cat breed. In Britain the appearance (body conformation or type) was kept slender but less so than for the US breed.
- Cat – believe expired copyright due to passage of time – public domain.
- Bodmin Moor – published under a creative commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
- Champagne Charlie in the public domain in the USA and believed UK