Tennessee Rex Satin Effect

by Franklin Whittenburg
(Tennessee, USA)

Tennessee Rex satin effect

Tennessee Rex satin effect

The Tennessee Rex (T-Rex) is a naturally occurring recessive mutation that appeared in some feral kittens discovered in Tennessee in 2004.

The mutation has been named “Satin” and has attached itself to a new recessive rex gene. The natural combination of the satin and rex genes are together called the Tennessee Rex mutation.

The satin effect causes the curly fur to sparkle like it has been sprinkled with “gold dust”. The effect is stunning when seen in real life.

Update by Michael@PoC:


Tennessee Rex cat

Tennessee Rex cat — Photo copyright Franklin Whittenburg

In Tennessee, in the summer of 2004, the semi-feral female cat that brought her curly haired kittens to Whittenburg’s back porch in search of a safe place for her newly born kittens chose well.

She hid them behind a chest freezer; not a particularly safe place but away from a local feral tom cat. Franklin Whittenburg took them in, had them checked out and cleaned up and the journey of the Tennessee rex cat breed had begun. The rex coat is another, but special example, of a naturally occurring mutation of the rex gene.


Tennessee Rex cat satin effect coat

Tennessee Rex satin effect – photo copyright Franklin Whittenburg

I guess Frank knew from early on that this was a special cat as the fur was not only curly (caused by the mutated rex gene that we are familiar with in cats such as the Devon Rex and LaPerm, for example); it also glittered, not like a Bengal cat’s glitter (highly desirable) but in a new satin effect. This may be caused by a unique genetic mutation in the domestic cat.

The hair shafts of the Tennessee Rex cat are not smooth but almost like a cut diamond. This irregular surface reflects and I presume refracts the light passing through it to give this extraordinary gold dust effect. The hair not only looks fascinating it is also soft to the touch.

The coat has all three types of fur, guard, awn and down, but the top layer of protective guard hairs are softer than usual. This cat has a great tail too, which when in the upright position the fur expands to the width of the cat. In short a full plumed tail.

The rex coat can be rather fragile and thin. With the Tennessee Rex the fur can be thinner in the area between the ears and eyes than is normal in kittens but the breed does not, it seems, suffer from the same baldness problems encountered with the other rex cats. Although the whiskers, as for all rex cats, are fragile and some may break.

This cat is medium to large is size and gentle, loving and attentive in nature.

Registration and Recognition

This cat is still very new on the scene and is not yet registered with the main associations such as the CFA, TICA and ACFA. The breed is in the early stages of development and is considered an experimental breed.

From Tennessee Rex cat to Devon Rex

Comments for
Tennessee Rex satin effect

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Aug 19, 2011 I think
by: T-Rex owner?

I have one!!!! She looks just like that!!! Can someone help identify my cats? I think I 2 Turkish Angoras as well. I thought the orange one was Angora.

Dec 17, 2010 spitting image
by: Anonymous

I have a cat that looks exactly like the one in the picture. He’s twelve years old. I believe he is a T-REX. He has thyroid problems now. I think that it may be part of their genetics. I’m not 100% sure though

Nov 19, 2010 Northeast Tennessee
by: TennGoodBoy

About three years ago we adopted a stray cat which looks very much like some of the photos of the Tennessee Rex by FW. The guard hairs on her back have a little of the satin effect visible in sunlight. Her fur is a kinda wavey, with little tufts on her toes. The vet estimated her age at time of adoption as about three years, so she is now about six. She seems to have come from the Johnson City area.

Nov 24, 2009 ??
by: Anonymous


Nov 23, 2009 THE ALLEY CAT
by: AnonymousI belive that that the Tennessee Rex is no more than an ALLEY CAT with gold flake spray paint for the satin effect!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 13, 2009 Quack aka the bird & Response to Bizzare accusation
by: S. East I know, that these two postings are nothing more than childish jokes in very bad taste being played against Frank Whittenburg. I can testify that the postings in NO WAY REPRESENT THE CHARACTER OF FRANK WHITTENBURG OR BUSINESS PRACTICES OF UTREX CATTERY.

Nov 12, 2009 Bizzare Accusation
by: AnonymousI dont think so……

Nov 11, 2009 Response to Bizzare Accusation
by: Franklin WhittenburgThe Tennessee Rex is a naturally occuring mutation that breeds true. If you breed a T-Rex to a T-Rex, you will only get Tennessee Rex kittens. It is a easily reproduced gene, there is no need to clone. The International Cat Association would not allow a cloned cat to be registered in their organization much less advance the Tennessee Rex to the next level in 2009 by unanimous consent of the Board of Directors. I would be interested to know how someone would even come up with such a bizzare accusation AND why this website would allow such slander to even be posted without proof? By researching the Internet, the only known cat that has ever been cloned was by the University of Texas and it was named CC (aka. cloned cat). The cost was about $55,000. I can breed a litter of Tennessee Rexes for $700.00 taking into account food and vet bills and I only have to breed one litter every two years to keep advancing thru TICA. Which path would you take to develop a new breed? You do the math……… Franklin Whittenburg
Tennesssee Rex breed founder
“T-Rex, a breed as NATURE intended”

Nov 11, 2009 QUACK aka bird
by: AnonymousI think it is very scary to even think about what franklin has and will do to these presious cats. I think that cloning animals is wrong and just plain sick…..it should be a crime and he should be inprisioned.

Nov 09, 2009 Tennessee Rex Update
by: AnonymousThe Tennessee Rex is still advancing thru the TICA new breed development requirerments. In May 2009, the Tennessee Rexes were accepted by unanimous consent of the TICA Board of Directors to move from the Experimental New Breed class to the Registration Only class (next level). The 3rd level is Peliminary New Breed, then Advacnced New Breed, and then Championship Breed status (top level). A few years ago, TICA added a stipulation to their rules that imposses a mandatory 2 year waiting period in between applications for new breed advancement, even if the breed currently meets all requirements for advancement to the next level. Currently I am using this waiting period to develop more contacts and to advertise and promote the Tennessee Rex breed. I have been recieving great feedback and support for this breed around the world. The Tennessee Rexes seem to be loved by very many people both inside and outside the cat fancy. Thank you for inquiring about these beautiful and unique Tennessee cats. Franklin Whittenburg
Tennessee Rex breed founder
Utrex Cattery
“T-Rex, a breed as nature intended”

Nov 09, 2009 Franklin Whittenburg
by: MichaelHi, the best person to ask is the founder, Franklin Whittenburg. I would go to his website and ask – he has an email address at the base of his home page. In fact I have just asked him! If I find out something I’ll get back.

Nov 03, 2009 Any new info
by: EhAny new info on these cats?

Aug 17, 2009 Tn. Rex Cat
by: Anonymous I am in my 60’s and have lived in East Tn. my whole life. I have never seen any cat like this on farms, in the city or otherwise.

Aug 17, 2009 Finding a Tennessee Rex
by: Anonymous I thought there were very few. Are you sure these are the same cats? They are such beautiful cats!! I would love to have a solid black Tennessee Rex! All my friends want one too, but they like other colors. How do you find these cat farmers? Is there any more information about these cats and where I can get one? I don’t have a lot of money to give for a cat and I don’t want to get ripped-off. Have you seen any solid black ones?

Aug 16, 2009 Sparkly T-Rex cats
by: AnonymousWow!! Carlotta, people in Tennessee never thought cats with curly hair and sparkles like gold dust was not unusual?!!! That is so amazing. Are these cats on farms where people can go get one? Are they really easy to find in Tennessee? What area of Tennessee are the biggest population or are they all over the state? I want to go get one!! All the website says is they come from the Chattanooga area. Is that where the people and farmers have them? Thanks for the info.

Aug 16, 2009 Thanks
by: AnonymousCarlotta – thanks for that insight. I didn’t realize that.

Aug 15, 2009 Tennessee Rex cats
by: Carlotta CooperI live in Tennessee. I’ve seen cats like this before here. (I’m in east Tennessee.) I didn’t realize they were unusual. They’re beautiful cats but they aren’t unusual in this area. I have no idea what the breeding is on them. They are just regular cats here. Lots of farmers and other people have them. I’m happy to hear that someone is working with them as a breed now.The ones I’ve noticed have been orange, too, but they have been in litters with other colors. Some of those cats had short hair and they were different colors. Sorry, I’m terrible at coat color genetics.

I have a friend with a colony of barn cats and these cats appear from time to time. He’s had a few cameo-colored that were especially pretty.

Apr 07, 2009 Update
by: AnonymousFirstly, thanks for the update on registration. It is appreciated. Secondly, my reference to Bengal cat glitter was not intended to imply that the Tennessee Rex satin effect was not desirable. I love the effect and it is definitely desirable. Thanks for the comment.Michael
PoC Admin

Apr 06, 2009 Tennessee Rex breed advancement
by: AnonymousThe Tennessee Rex was advanced from the Experimental Registry in TICA to the next stage of breed recognition which is Registration Only at the TICA 2009 Winter Board meeting.

Apr 06, 2009 What’s not desirable about the satin mutation?
by: AnonymousIn the article on the Tennessee Rex, why do you write that glitter gene seen in Bengal’s is considered (highly desirable) and the Tennessee Rex satin mutation is not?The Book of the Cat (which some claim is one of the best books on cats written) states on page 99:

“Another coat type, already eagerly awaited by breeders familiar with it in mice, hamsters and rabbits, is the satin. The satin gene changes the structure of the hairs so they have a greater light-reflecting surface, and the name exactly describes the effect produced. This MOST beautiful coat would, MANY breeders feel, be a real asset if established in cats, not only changing the quality of the coat but, by optical effect, deepening the colour so that white becomes platinum, cream becomes gold and so on.”

May 18, 2008 Tennessee Rex Satin Effect
by: AnonymousThanks for this information. I have linked to your submission from the LaPerm page as it’s a nice contribution to that page. POC Admin

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Tennessee Rex Satin Effect — 10 Comments

    • Did you find your kitty? Where did you find him, I would love to learn about any naturally occurring satin cats. I have a satin male Hecktar, and hope he will be a Gramma next Spring to satin kittens.

  1. Selena do you still have your kitty? I am a Tennessee Rex breeder and curious to learn if other naturally occurring satin cats.

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