Devon Rex Health

by Michael
(London, UK)

Devon Rex cat by The Flooz - no known associations between this cat and the diseases referred to.

Devon Rex cat by The Flooz - no known associations between this cat and the diseases referred to.

This page expands on the areas that I touched upon on the main Devon Rex page about Devon Rex health. The source material is, "Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats" Edited by Dr. Ross D. CLark, DVM and as stated at the base of the page. The first wise point made is that as the Devon Rex has a very thin coat it is sensible to ensure that the cat avoids extreme temperatures. There are certain genetic diseases that have been linked to this cat breed. This is not to say that the diseases are widely prevalent in breeding lines. Also these diseases affect other cats and are not exclusive to the Devon Rex:


This is an neurological condition inherited by Devon Rex cats. It is also found in Sphynx cats. It seems to be caused by an autosomal recessive gene. Cats neither chew nor swallow normally. They often die of aspiration pneumonia. "Aspiration pneumonia" affects people as well. It describes the condition when the cat inhales his or her stomach contents or the secretions of the oropharynx (the area of the throat that is at the back of the mouth - src:

This leads to a lower respiratory tract infection. Breeders test to see if a cat is carrying this gene. This is done by mating with a known carrier. If one offspring has the disease then the tested cat is carrying the defective gene. A test or standard that breeders conduct is to have 16 clear kittens before declaring that the tested cat is clear. Under this test the potential carrier has less than a 1% chance of carrying the disease.

Hereditary Hypotrichosis

This disease has been reported in this cat breed. The disease is caused by an autosomal recessive gene. The disease causes thin, downy hair at birth. The hair turns to complete baldness at between 10 and 14 days of age and then some cats regrow the hair by 8-10 weeks of age but the hair usually reverts to baldness at aged 6 months. The hair follicles are poorly formed and usually "in telogen" when there is no hair (the "telogen phase" refers to the resting phase of the hair follicle). There may be secondary hair follicles.

Neonatal Erythrolysis

There are a number of breeds that suffer this condition. One such breed is the British Shorthair cat. It concerns the destruction of red blood cells in the newborn kitten causing death under the heading "fading kitten syndrome". It is due to a mismatch of blood types between queen and newborn. Please see British Shorthair health for full details.

Hip Dysplasia

Another aspect of Devon Rex health is this inherited disease, which is also associated with for example, Persians and Maine Coon cats. It is an abnormally formed hip socket. The joint between leg and hip is neither smooth nor firm. This causes degenerative hip disease due to laxity of the hips (laxity: "the quality or state of being loose" - src: It causes walking abnormalities, intermittent lameness and a reluctance to jump. A test early on does not rule out the need for tests later as it can occur in later life. Radiograms can confirm the condition.

Greasy Skin Folds and Claws

The Devon Rex tends to have this problem. Dr. Clark suggests that a shampoo containing 2.5 - 3% benzoyl peroxide or sulfur be used up to twice weekly.

Familial Hypothyroidism

This disease "has been diagnosed in a family of Rex cats" (src: Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats). Thyroid hormone supplementation was successfully administered.

Congenital Patellar Subluxation-luxation

The Devon Rex may be predisposed to this inherited disease. It may affect both sides. It may occur concurrently with hip dysplasia. The disease concerns a dislocated knee cap (patellar). The knee cap does not slide centrally within its grove (trochlear groove, which is shallow and the trochlear ridges are rounded). It causes intermittent lameness and a reluctance to jump. Cats may take up a crouched stance and a bowlegged appearance when affected on both sides (bilateral).

Devon Rex Hereditary Myopathy

This is another Devon Rex health problem. The information was sourced from the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, page 369.

The disease is caused by the presence of an autosomal (not sex linked) recessive defective gene. It affects kittens. The symptoms are visible at 4-7 weeks of age. The kittens have low exercise threshold. The head and neck is flexed downward. Megaesophagus is also usually present. There is no treatment apparently. These kittens have short lives usually.

That is it for the time being on Devon Rex health.

From Devon Rex Health to Devon Rex Cat

Devon Rex Health - Source other than stated above:


Devon Rex Health - photo: by The Flooz published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.

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Devon Rex Health

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Sep 15, 2011
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the comprehensive list!

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