German Rex cat breed: the unique rarity living in the shadow of its English relative

László Enikő, 2022. December 23 - Photos by Getty Images Hungary; Wikipedia – German Rex, German Rex, German rex

The German Rex has many similarities to its relative, the Cornish Rex, and the latter is much more popular than the former. A rather rare breed, only rarely seen outside Germany.

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If you want a cat that is really smart, this breed is the ideal choice. Some people call him the Einstein of the cat world bacause how quickly and eagerly he learns. And the touch of its velvety fur is a very special experience, like stroking a stuffed animal. She is a well-balanced, calm and patient cat with a very high energy level.


The history of the breed dates back to the 1930s. Historically, it was not discovered in the most fortunate era, so it is understandable why the breeding process was very slow and why it is still a very rare breed today. It all started with the birth of two curly-haired kittens in the early 1930s (some sources say late 1920s) in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) in East Prussia. The kittens parents were a Russian blue and a Turkish Angora. One of the curly-haired kittens was named Munk, and because he was not neutered, he spent his long life of 14 years roaming the streets and breeding kittens. But the timing wasn’t right to create a new breed of cat, so they had to wait twenty years to start working on it.

More and more curly-haired cats appeared in Berlin in the early 1950s. Since many people from Königsberg came to work in Berlin, it is possible that the cats that appeared there were the descendants of Munk. In 1951, Dr Rose Scheuer-Karpin came across a black, curly-haired female cat in a Berlin hospital. He took her home and named her Lämmchen, or Lamb. She thought a genetic mutation was causing the cat’s curly hair and crossed it with another cat. The result showed that the gene responsible for curly hair is not dominant, but recessive.

Most German Rex remained behind the Iron Curtain after the Second World War. At the time, cat breeding was understandably taking a back seat. It makes you wonder how the cats survived the air raids that completely destroyed many German cities. Millions of people lost their lives, but a few cats escaped. When they started to work on the breed, they used the available kittens in breeding. So Devon Rexes, Persians and simple house cats were also included in the programme.

Breed standard

The German Rex is a medium-sized cat, weighing about 4-5 kg. The body is medium long, strong and muscular, but not compact. The limbs are slender, medium long. Its paws are rounded. Tail medium long, with rounded end. It has a round head, shorter than average whiskers and curly hair. The ears are moderately large, broad at the ear, with rounded tips. The eyes are medium large and their colour harmonises with the colour of the coat. The coat is short and silky, soft to the touch, curly or wavy. It comes in all colours and patterns. Expected lifetime 12-15 years.


He is a happy, playful but balanced and calm cat. He has almost everything you would expect from an ideal cat. He is patient, or rather, he only runs out of patience when he is left alone a lot. Mental stimulation is important for him because he is very intelligent. He likes to entertain himself with skill games, but he also learns tricks. He is very close to his owner, a very affectionate pet. When he is not playing, he likes to be stroked on the sofa.

Ideal environment

He likes attention and it is very important for him to keep his mind sharp. So he needs plenty of toys, including some that will stimulate this clever cat mentally. He likes the training, as he learns happily and easily, and of course he is also being looked after. He adapts easily to different lifestyles, but does not tolerate loneliness well. He is very fond of warm places and indoor living, as he is a bit cold, due to his fur. Being a very social animal, he gets along well with children and other cats.


No special care is needed, just comb through his silky coat once a week. However, brushing too often is not recommended as it can damage the fine fibres. Because the soft hairs do not absorb the sebum produced by the skin properly, this cat needs a bath more often than an average cat. Claws need to be cut if scratching posts are not abrasive enough. He should also have his ears cleaned and checked regularly.

Common health problems

If not properly groomed, the German Rex can be prone to skin diseases due to excessive sebum build-up. In summer, you should protect them from strong sunlight, because the lighter individuals may get sunburn.

(Literature: Laura Aceti, Viola Autieri: Legjobb barátunk, a macska)

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