THE GERMAN REX
The curly-coated Kater (Tomcat) Munk and his curly-coated brother were the sons of an Angora (generic longhair) cat and a Russian Blue-type cat. For two such cats to appear in one litter means both parents were carrying this recessive gene. Munk’s brother was neutered and Munk himself was free-roaming, siring offspring on the local cat population. He died aged 14 in the last years of the war. Only one photo of him is known.
The German Rex was discovered a year later in 1951 at Berlin's Hufeland Hospital by Frau Dr Rose Scheuer-Karpin. A curly-coated stray cat known as Laemmchen (Lambkin – Lämmchen) had reared kittens in the hospital grounds. It seems that she had been born in 1946/7 (pre-dating the Cornish Rex!) to straight-coated house-cats and allowed to roam freely until being adopted by nurses at the Berlin Hufeland hospital. Some suggest Laemmchen was a descendant of the free-roaming Kater Munk. Whatever her ancestry, Laemmchen was then just a curiosity and there was no attempt to deliberately breed curly-coated cats until the 1950s
According to Dr. R. Scheuer-Karpin , in August 1951 she noticed a rather tame black cat noticed among the many feral cats that inhabited the extensive parks of the former Hufeland Hospital in Berlin-Buch. This struck her as unusual. In warm weather, the little cat rested on the benches around the grounds and allowed the patients to pet her. When Dr Cheuer-Karpin petted and picked up the little cat, she discovered its special appearance. Its fur was snug, velvety and silky smooth coat and undulated like the fleece of a Persian lamb. The guard hairs seemed to be missing and the fine down hair was short and wavy. The whiskers and even the eyelashes were curled, giving the cat’s face a peculiar expression. The cat lived in the hospital basement where one of the nurses fed her. A retired nurse recalled this cat, or a very similar, being at the hospital in 1947. Dr. Scheuer-Karpin later found out that the cat had been brought by a now retired nurse from Konigsberg, hence her tameness. She called the cat Laemmchen because of her resemblance to a lamb.
Dr Scheuer-Karpin let Laemmchen into her rooms on the first floor. The cat settled in and could enter and leave via the kitchen and bathroom windows which were beneath a sloping roof and above a gutter. A small ladder gave the cats access. After a few weeks, Laemmchen had a companion; a little black cat with a small white patch under the chin. This cat, Blackie, grew into a powerful tomcat and he and Laemmchen produced 4 normal-haired black kittens in 1952. Every spring and every autumn, the pair produced four normal-haired black kittens which were homed to other employees. The 48 kittens Blackie produced until 1956 were located in and around Berlin, East and West, Dresden, Weimar and other places. Dr Scheur-Karpin recognised that the mutation was recessive and that the kittens were carriers of the mutation, however none of the cat breeders in Berlin were not interested in her discovery. Laemmchen refused to mate with any of her adult sons, which would have produced more curly-haired cats.
In 1953, Dr Scheuer-Karpin learned, via a friend, of Kallibunker, the first Cornish Rex cat. The geneticist who studied Kallibunker was Mr. Jude and he called the mutation Rex. Rex was seen in rodents, but not in cats. Earlier publications on the Rex gene in other animals came from Professor Nachtsheim (Germany) and Professor Letard (France). Mr. Jude wrote for the Journal of Genetics together with Mr. Searle and when he learned of Laemmchen he was very interested. He requested hair samples and pictures, which he analysed, and he printed his findings in 1956. Unfortunately the evidence of heredity was still unproven because Laemmchen still refused to mate with any of her adult sons.
Laemmchen’s preferred consort, Blackie was killed in the autumn of 1956, during one of his forays into other cats’ territories. In January 1957, Laemmchen began calling for a mate so Dr Scheuer-Karpolin took Fridolin, from a 1955 litter, to her. Laemmchen rejected him. In February 1957, Laemmchen and Fridolin were confined together in the bathroom and succeeded in mating with Laemmchen. SHesuccumbed finally to Fridolin and on 2nd April 1957, Laemmchen had the usual 4 black kittens, of which three had wavy fur. The curly-haired female died after a few days, but a male called Sputnik found a good home in Berlin-Karow. Sputnik roamed freely and sired numerous kittens. Since he was homozygous for the Rex gene, all his sons and daughters were carriers. The second Rex boy from the litter was sent to Mr. Jude in England, but this cat died after 6 weeks in quarantine. The 4 month old tomcat had been completely healthy when he left Germany, but it is suspected he contracted an infection while in quarantine.
In 1956, the British geneticists Searle and Jude investigated the Rex mutations in the cat. Their only tools were visual analysis, microscopy and test mating. They termed the mutations “English” (now known as Cornish) and “German.” Test matings demonstrated that the German Rex was caused by the same recessive gene which caused the Cornish Rex. The German Rex is similar to the Cornish Rex but with a thicker coat and different body shape from mating with European Shorthairs. The Angora German Rex (Longhaired German Rex) is an important part of the German Rex breeding programme.
An orange cat from a neighbouring agricultural collective began to pay suit to Laemmchen now that Black was gone. In August 1957, Laemmchen had three normal-furred kittens; the two females were rehomed and the male, Blackie II, was kept. Blackie II grew up into an indoor-only cat. On August 11, 1958, the pair had 4 kittens: 2 female and 2 males, of which 2 cats were curly-coated. All were black with a small white patch under the chin or between the hind legs (brisket marking). One of curly-haired kitten became the pet of the family of a member of Radio Berlin, the other, called Curlie became the pet of a nurse at the clinic and went to live in the neighbouring suburbs. All the kittens thrived and since none were castrated, the males spread the Rex gene into the local cat population.
On March 25, 1959 Blackie II and Laemmchen had a litter with one Rex male and 2 normal-haired females. Rex went to Neubrandenburg, Regina remained in Berlin. The next litter of kittens, born in July, were rehomed with difficulty. Dr Scheuer-Karpin wrote to Professor Nachtsheim, who was indeed interested in the curly-haired cats and asked for pictures, but her did not have any room for kittens. Professor Etienne Letard, who was the president of the French Cat Club, was very interested in havinga pair of Rex kittens. Two kittens from the March 10, 1960 litter, one male and one female, were sent to him in late July by LOT (Polish airline) from Berlin Schönefeld to Paris. This resulted in disaster and tragedy. The stewardess to whom the kittens in their basket were entrusted forgot to unload them in Paris. Professor Letard waited in vain at the airport and telegraphed Dr Scheuer-Karpin to say the kitten had not arrived. Dr Scheuer-Karpin’s research in Berlin led to the discovery of the basket in Warsaw. LOT sent the basket of kittens from Warsaw to Zurich, then to Paris where Professor Letard received them in very poor condition, with necrosis (frostbite) on the feet, due to the cold and dirt. The female, Cleopatra, died despite immediate treatment. The male, Caesar, recovered and was renamed Marco Polo because of his adventures. He was exhibited as a German Rex in October 1960 in Paris. He was such a sensation among cat lovers that there was a queue in front of his cage to see him. In addition, Marco was declared a favourite in the professor’s home because of his devotion and intelligence.
Professor Letard started a systematic breeding program. To avoid inbreeding depression (degeneration) he only inbred every third generation. Marco’s partners were all cream or blue, resulting in these colours appearing as great-grandchildren of Laemmchen. A few years later, Dr. Scheuer-Karpin visited Professor Letard, and admired a snow-white female German Rex descended from Marco. The French press published news about the German Rex cats, sparking interest from many countries. Ultimately, Marco’s offspring appear to have been used to expand the Cornish Rex breeding programme.
Among the interested parties was American breeder, Joan O'Shea. At this point, Dr Scheuer-Karpin had rehomed all of her curly-coated kittens and had only a normal-haired female carrier. She was contacted by a young American scientist who had made a stop-off in Berlin and wanted to take two German Rex kittens back to America with him. Since there were no homozygous curly-coated kittens available, he took with him one of Curlie’s offspring bred by Sister Gertraude Knuth.
At Dr Scheuer-Karpin’s suggestion, Sister Gertraude Knuth had started her own breeding programme, mating Curlie (vom Hufeland) had boy to a normal-haired domestic cat (Mackie) and keeping one of the offspring for breeding back to Curlie. It was intended that one of Curlie’s offspring be mated to the Laemmchen’s normal-coated carrier to introduce new blood (from Mackie), but both of Curlie’s kittens were female. Since Curlie and Laemmchen regularly had healthy offspring, one of the Curlie’s kittens, Knuth’s Marigold (of Birch Woods) went to America and was later joined by Christopher Columbus – a curly-coated son of Laemmchen and Blackie II.
Christopher Columbus was the first Rex in America; he was exhibited and became a Pan-American Champion. In the following year, a total of 11 kittens were exported to America, including curly-coated and normal-coated (carriers). In return, reports of the breeding programme in America were sent to Dr Scheuer-Karpin.
In 1960, one of Dr. R. Scheuer-Karpin’s acquaintances in Berlin-Buch told her of a curly-coated cat, Schurzel, owned by a coal merchant. It very much resembled Laemmchen and was kept as a mouser. Schnurzel had the same conformation as Laemmchen; delicate, regular wavy black coat with some scattered white hairs and twisted whiskers. He also had the same character – intelligent and somewhat obstinate as they. These traits were also reported in the Rex cats bred in the USA, and by Professor Letard. The coal merchant had received the cat from a friend in Berlin, and knew that both parents were normal-coated. Many of Laemmchen’s offspring had been rehomed in that area and, being unneutered, had roamed freely, spreading the Rex gene in the local cat population. Sister Gertraude Knuth persuaded the coal merchant to part with Schnurzel. Schnurzel was mated to Curlie, producing 4 Rex Kitten; Unfortunately Schnurzel, being a free-roaming tomcat, met the same end as Blackie I.
Laemmchen’s last kitten was born in 1962 and named Cleopatra, she joined the breeding programme in the USA. By this time Laemmchen was now an old lady and ignored Blackie’s overtures. In summer 1964, Laemmchen developed a cystic tumor on her chest. This was removed and she recovered well, but was obviously in old-age decline. She died on the 19th December, 1964. Because she had lived as a stray in the hospital grounds for some time before being taken in, Laemmchen was probably in her late teens when she died.
Blackie II was very human-oriented and remained happily in the apartment with Dr Scheuer-Karpin until she left Berlin in 1970. He was rehomed to a loving family and became a normal tomcat, roaming outdoors and mating with some of the local females (spreading the Rex gene a bit further). Blackie II died in April 1973, not quite 16 years old.
Laemmchen's kittens prior to Dr Scheuer-Karpin’s involvement are unaccounted for and many of her later ones, and their offspring, are untraceable. Dr Scheuer-Karpin’s own notes indicate that Laemmchen produced around 60 offspring. Despite early enthusiasm by breeders in Europe and the USA, by 1968 only three of her direct descendants were known.
“A NEW REXOID COAT MUTANT”
German Rex - A Rexoid Coat Mutant in The Cat (Roy Robinson in Genetica (1968) 39: 597-599, paper received June 6, I968)
A Rexoid coat mutant was discovered in Berlin in 1951; the second of its kind in the cat. The coat is short and soft to the touch. Breeding data show that it is inherited as an autosomal recessive. The German Rex is phenotypicalIy similar to the English Rex but represents a distinct mutational event.
Introduction: In 1956, SEARLE & JUDE showed that a Rexoid type coat mutant ("English Rex") of the cat is inherited as a recessive autosomal monogenic trait. The coat of the English Rex is described as short and mole-like, soft and wavy, and lacking in guard and the various awn hairs. The vibrissae are curled, the hall-mark of Rexoid mutants of mammals. A second Rexoid cat was also briefly described under the name of "German Rex". The coat is also short and mole-like, and the vibrissae are curly. Examination of hair samples from one individual reveals an absence of guard hairs but the presence of awn and awn-down hairs at frequencies comparable to normal.
Genetics: At that time, no breeding data were available for the German Rex. However, data has since become available, largely as a consequence of several breeders who are endeavouring to establish the form. Crosses between the German Rex and normal cats gave a total of 60 normal coated kittens (11 males, 14 females and 35 undetermined). Crosses between the above F1 and Rex gave 36 normals (17 males and 19 females) and 40 Rex (19 males and 21 females). Fl X Fl gave four normals (3 males and I female) and three Rex (3 males). Inter se crosses of Rex gave 22 Rex (11 males and 11 females). These results establish that the German Rex is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive character. The coat is typically Rexoid. The kittens are wavy at birth but the wave is temporarily lost to some extent between the ages of one or two months and four or five months. The wave effect then returns and persists throughout life, increasing with age if anything.
Discussion: There is no doubt that the two Rex mutants represent distinct events. The German Rex was first observed in Berlin-Buch, Germany, in 1951 and the English Rex in Cornwall, England, in 1950. Both are inherited as recessive to normal coat and it is conceivable that they could be repeat mutants of the same locus. The disparity of presence or absence of the awn-type hairs could be indicative of differing genes but, if so, it still remains to be discovered if the genes are alleles at the same locus. No crosses have yet been undertaken between German and English Rexes. The reason is that breeders are understandably reluctant to undertake crosses between mutants with closely similar phenotypes for fear of subsequent confusion. Despite this, the well-known difficulty of obtaining reliable breeding data for cat mutants, justifies the permanent recording of the above results.
I wish to thank Dr. R. SCHEUR-KARPIN (Berlin), Mrs. J. O.SHEA (Vernon) and Mrs. S. MUCKENHOUPT (Newton Highlands) for assistance and various courtesies.
GERMAN REX IN THE USA
By 1961, several German Rexes had been exported to the USA and enthusiastically bred. Christopher Columbus was the founder of the German Rex breed there. He was bred to Knuth’s Marigold and Knuth’s Gretchen and to a white domestic outcross named Puddin! Of Hi-Fi. In all he sired 7 registered offspring.
The breed was featured in an American magazine, The Forum, in 1971, though (as we know in hindsight) the last registered American-bred German Rexes had been born in 1970 and the breed would soon vanish and be forgotten to the extent that the American CFA didn’t even have a record of their registrations! As well as Knuth’s Marigold and Christopher Columbus, 11 German Rexes (including heterozygotes) were exported to the USA. In a strange twist, some of their descendants were exported back to Europe as Cornish Rexes. With their moderate conformation, the German Rex lost out to the leggy Cornish and pixie-faced Devon Rexes. Looking at newspaper reports of cat shows, there was confusion between the German Rex and the American Wirehair in the mind of the press and the public (both having a moderate conformation). The arrival of the indigenous American Wirehair in 1966 may well have been partly responsible for the German Rex dying out in that country.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 5, 1967: On Sunday, Cats 327 of them [of] just about every breed there is, will be shown by the Cincinnati Cat Club February 11 and 12 at the National Guard Armory, 4100 Reading Rd., Bond Hill. This 13th Annual Championshlp Show will feature [. . .] two very rare breeds [. . .] a tortoiseshell and white German Rex will be among the entries. This cat, Hedwig of Katzenreich, is a granddaughter of the first German Rex imported to this country and a great granddaughter of the German Rex mutant discovered in Berlin in 1948. Hedwig is owned by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Beck of Baltimore, Maryland. Hi-Fi’s Hedwig of Katzenreich, was bred by Mrs O'Shea and owned by Bill and Madalene Beck. She was the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) All-Star Rex in 1966-67. Although a German Rex, she is listed by the CFA as the 1966 Cornish Rex winner, reflecting the fate of the German Rex in the USA – to die out or be absorbed into the Cornish Rex. Birch Wood's Gretchen (GRX) x Katzenreich Nietzche (GRX) produced Katzenreich Panzer who was registered and bred as a Cornish Rex.
Excerpts from “REX THE KING" by Helen Weiss, published in the CFA Yearbook, 1965.
When the English Rex were being publicized in the early fifties, word came that a black curly female had been "found" wandering in East Berlin, by Dr. Scheuer-Karpin. According to the Doctor, Lammchen, of uncertain age, (was) born before 1946, had many kittens of unknown fathers; from 1952 until 1956, with domestic cat Blackie I, (Lammchen had) many kittens of normal appearance. With one of these, Fridolin, in 1957 (she had her) first litter of homozygous kittens, of which one was Sputnik."
“In 1957 mating with a domestic ginger, of which Blackie II was the only kitten which remained; of normal appearance, he has sired all succeeding Rex kittens. In 1958 Curlee and Muse (females) ; in 1959 a Rex male; in 1960 Marco and sister (went to Paris), Christopher (went to U.S.)” (From a letter written by Dr. Scheuer-Karpin to Mrs. Muckenhaupt.)
In 1960 Mrs. Muckenhaupt's son, while touring in East Berlin, went to see Dr. Scheuer-Karpin and was warmly received. Dr. Scheuer-Karpin had spent the war years in England and speaks and writes English fluently. At the time she was opposed to sending kittens to the U. S., as one she had sent to Mr. Jude died in quarantine and a pair she had sent to Prof. Letard in Paris had spent four days lost on a Polish airline and one was dead on arrival, the other barely alive.
Two kittens were available at the time, both were normal coated (hybrids) one from Lammchen, the other from her daughter, Curlee. These (thought to be a pair but later found to be two females) were taken to West Berlin by subway (this was before the border was sealed), and put on a plane, arriving in Mass. 16 hours later. They are still owned by Mrs. Muckenhaupt of Newton, Highlands, Mass. Marigold and Jet, as they were named, were born in June and July, 1960. Christopher, the first curley German Rex imported to the U. S., was born in November, 1960, and sent to Mrs. Joan O'Shea of Vernon, New York.
In the fall of 1961 Mrs. O'Shea received four kittens from Germany. Among them was a Rex female, Regina, who went to Mrs. Muckenhauph, but died of enteritis at 15 months. This meant that Rex x Rex litters would have to wait until young kittens could grow up. Then Mrs. Muckenhaupt's first seven Rex kittens were all males! Now she reports that she has four young Rex females and is anxiously waiting for them to grow up and reproduce.
Mrs. O'Shea is working with several recent imports and has had several litters. The German Rex conforms to the standard. As far as the author knows the only colors at this time are black and black smoke.
In his article on Rex Coats, Dr. Searle states that the German Rex are curly as kittens but straight haired as adults. This is certainly not true of those in this country for all of the adults are very curly. The only one the author has been privileged to meet is Hi-Fi's Schultz of Karnes, belonging to Mrs. Nettie Carowe of Knoxville, Tenn. He was a very curly and affectionate little black fellow.
Excerpts from “THE REX CAT — LONG MAY IT WAVE!” by Mable and Charlie Tracy, published in the CFA Yearbook, 1971.
For the first time in the history of recorded feline breeding, we have been given the unique opportunity to completely and accurately document the history of a breed from the time of its inception . . . the REX CAT! Helen Weiss has faithfully detailed the early history and development of the Rex cat in The CFA Yearbook of 1965, pages 138-147, so we will try to bring further developments up to the present.
In 1962, THE REX SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL was formed, and in 1967, the GERMAN REX SOCIETY was organized. We were charter members and board member of the latter group. However, there was still a dearth of information for breeders of both mutations and we found it impossible to intelligently plot a course of breeding since background information was non-existent within the structure of the GERMAN REX SOCIETY. Acting independently, we contacted the two pioneer German Rex Breeders in the United States, Mrs. Sally Muckenhoupt, BIRCH WOODS CATTERY, from whom we purchased our first curly coated Rex, and Mrs. Joanne O'Shea, HI-FI CATTERY. About the same time, we began to correspond with Mrs. Margaret Baxter, EMBEE SIAMESE, Leeds, England, who most graciously researched the British FUR AND FEATHER publication to send us all the information she could find on the English Rex. [. . .] Much of the valuable information later published in THE FORUM, the newsletter of REX BREEDERS UNITED, Year Book, 1971.
Our personal Rex breeding experiences began with the first litter from BIRCH WOOD'S INGRID OF PAW PRINTS (called Kindchen, our original purchase from Sally Muckenhoupt), consisting of five kittens. One was an unusual solid gunmetal color which contrasted with a black litter mate. The gunmetal changed as the kitten grew and when her coat went into the suede look (a large number of Rex kittens go through this extreme coat change, then back into a lovely curl), appeared to be almost a brindle color. A description of her development sent to Alison Ashford confirmed our feeling that she was a black smoke, and she was later shown as such, PAW PRINTS HOLLY WEEN. She is now 3.5, years old and most decidedly a smoke. From this, we decided to try an outcross to further develop the silver gene in HOLLY. After a disastrous attempt at outside stud service to a shaded silver American Shorthair, we purchased a shaded silver American Shorthair male, NORPARK'S SALAZAR' from Wayne Park. We are still pursuing the silver gene and are aiming at developing a Silver Rex.
Following our breeding program, we have outcrossed CH. PAW PRINTS HOLLY WEEN (black smoke German Rex) to NORPARK'S SALAZAR (shaded silver ASII), producing a litter of 3 silver tabbies and I blue tabby normal coated German Rex kitten, carrying the Rex gene. The male silver tabbie from this litter, PAW PRINTS FREDERICK' (Sam to the family), has been bred to PAW PRINTS SCIIATZ (German Rex, curly) and the kittens are due the end of July. A female silver tabby from the litter. PAW PRINTS FRAULEIN FRIEDA, owned by Mrs. Janis Buczacky, has been bred to RODELL'S RIMSKI, bred by Bob and Dell Smith, (Cornish Rex), who is also carrying silver genes, and that litter is due in mid-June. A daughter of NORPARK'S SALAZAR (shaded silver ASH), PAW PRINTS LEIBCHE N (Normal coated German Rex) has also been bred to RODELL'S RIMSKI, and that litter is due in early July. Needless to say, we have a very exciting summer waiting to see if our clouds really do have a "Silver" lining!
In the process of purchasing our American Shorthair from Mr. Park. the conversation turned to the future of the Rex cat. We expressed the opinion that the breed had little to gain from the fragmentation of the breeders and the lack of background information. Mr. Park encouraged us to contact Mrs. Elizabeth Freret with the possibility in mind of organizing a new club, including both the English and German Rex breeders. An effective avenue of communication was very necessary and what could better do the job than a good, factual, regularly published newsletter? This concept was later made a fundamental objective of the organization and is so stated in the Articles of Incorporation, prepared by Elizabeth, "to document and publicize the origins of the Rex cat and its continuing development; to provide a forum for the exchange of information pertaining to the care and breeding of Rex cats."
Elizabeth contacted the English breeders and we contacted all the German breeders to form a nucleus of 19 people interested in forming such a new organization. REX BREEDERS UNITED resulted and was accepted as a CFA affiliated club at the Annual Meeting, June, 1969. Our first issue of THE FORUM was circulated to 64 first year Charter Members and complimentary copies were sent to all CFA judges, now an established and continuing policy. The initial officers and Board of Directors for that first year were: President, Bob Smith, California; Vice President, Helen Weiss, Texas; Vice President, Sally Muckenhoupt, Massachusetts; Secretary-Treasurer:, Mable Tracy, Maryland; Board Member, Sue Dug-le, Ohio; Board Member: Charles Tracy. Maryland. Our membership has grown to 84 members, including 7 associate members, (friends but not owners of Rex cats) and 3 members in Holland. Charlie and I agreed to serve as Editors of THE FORUM, and as such have taken the position most seriously, feeling it our duty as well as our pleasure to stay as fully informed as possible of the Rex history and its development around the world. In this global pursuit of Rex knowledge, we belong to the COLOURPOINT REXCOATED AND A.O.V. CLUB, England, THE FELINE ADVISORY BOARD, England, SHORTHAIR SILVER SOCIETY, C.F.A., United States, MARYLAND FELINE SOCIETY, unaffiliated All Breed Club, Baltimore, and subscribe to Cats Magazine, England, Cats Magazine, United States. International Cat Fancy, Cat Fanciers News, The Siamese News Quarterly, CFA Yearbook, and correspond with breeders and judges in England, Holland and Australia, as well as the United States, plus new leads for future contacts from these correspondents for breeders in additional countries. It is a very busy typewriter we have plugged in!
Early hair studies by Mr. Roy Robinson had led him to venture the opinion there was a strong possibility the Cornish and German Rex mutations could be identical. Soon after the formation of Rex Breeders United, contact was made between 2 sets of Cornish and German breeders. Bob and Dell Smith of California sent RODELL'S RIMSKI (Cornish Rex) to our cattery in Maryland, where he sired a litter of Cornish, German cross, out of PAW PRINTS SCIIATZ (German Rex), on May 16, 1970, producing 2 males, both curly, CH. PAW PRINTS ADAM and PAW PRINTS EVAN. CH. PAW PRINTS ADAM was judged Box Novice All Breed at the Empire Show, New York, in one of his two show appearances. Both males have been neutered and are happily living as beloved pets.
Helen Weiss of Texas provided the Cornish stud, CH. TRINKA'S ICARUS OF DAZ-ZLING, who sired a litters of German Cornish cross out of NEW MOON KRISTINA OF THE WILLOWS, (German Rex) owned by Mrs. Una Bailey, Louisiana, on May 25, 1970, producing 5 female kittens, all curly, among which was THE WILLOW GENIE OF DAZ-ZLING, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Estes of Texas. GENIE has accumulated an impressive show record already: Best Kitten Shorthair, Houston, BOX Shorthair and Third Best All Breed, Houston-in top 5 Kittens under five other judges (from Best to Fourth Best), Best Novice, St. Louis - and Best Champion, Dallas . . . well on her way to a Grand Championship!
A third litter was born to CH. BIRCH WOOD'S INGRID OF PAW PRINTS (German Rex), sired by RODELL'S RIMSKI (Cornish Rex), on December 10, 1970, again producing 4 female kittens, all curly. Both Cornish sires used in these 3 litters also had the California Rex mutant, MYSTERY LADY of the RODELL Cattery, in their pedigrees, so to rule out the slightest possibility of the California Rex influencing these results, Helen Weiss then bred NEW MOON OF THE WILLOWS (German Rex) to GR. CIH. DAZ-ZLING LIGHT", (Pure Cornish Rex), producing 5 kittens, all curly, 4 females and 1 male . . . Proof Positive German and Cornish Rex are genetically identical!
PAW PRINTS ADAM, from the first litter of Cornish German cross, sired a cross, born May 25, 1970 litter of one curly male kitten, born to CHI. PAW PRINTS HOLLY WEEN, (German Rex), January, 1971. Twenty years, and many breeders after the recording of the first Rex cat mutation in Cornwall in 1950, these breedings proved Mr. Roy Robinson's theory to be correct: The Cornish and German Rex mutations are genetically identical. The exciting opportunity for future breeding made possible by this discovery is apparent: the best of both strains can be combined to produce better and better Rex cats through selective breeding, and inbreeding is no longer necessary to retain the Rexed coat. This important finding, plus the publication of THE FORUM, the instrument used to broadcast this event, has more than justified the founding of REX BREEDERS UNITED, and holds a great deal of promise for the expanding future of the Rex cat!
We have come to a crossroad in breeding. Decisions made now will affect the Rex eat as a breed forever. The following quote is taken from the June issue, 1971, of THE FORUM, The Fascinating Rexes, by Alison Ashford and Roy Robinson: "So far, hair samples from the Cornish, Devon, German and Oregon rexes have been studied. As a group, the Cornish, German and Oregon rexes tend to be similar. No guard hairs could be seen but awn hairs were observed in most samples. The Cornish rex, the numbers of awn hairs are greater or more easily identified in that they are more perfectly formed. The Oregon rex possesses the most perfectly formed awn hairs. They also appear to be thicker and less bent than the awn hairs of the other rexes. This has the effect of causing the awn hairs to protrude above the general level of the coat to a greater extent than that observed for the Cornish or German rexes. The hair samples reveal that the Devon rex differs from the other rexes. This observation fits in with the fact that the form is genetically distinct. It is, of course, not necessary for the coat to differ for a rex to be genetically different. Such is the case for the Oregon rex. It is distinct from the Cornish yet the coat is generally similar. On the other hand, genetic identity implies a similar coat and this is the situation for the Cornish and German rexes. In fact, it is of interest to recall that examination of hair samples from these two rexes (performed before crosses were made) led to the suggestions that they could be genetically identical."
When the Cornish Rex was bred to the Devon Rex, all the kittens were normal coated, showing the mutations to be distinct. When the Cornish Rex was bred to the German Rex, all the kittens were curly, for when rex is bred to rex, all kittens are always curly when the mutations are identical. The Cornish and the German mutations are the only two known mutations that are identical up to this time.
Should we really combine all types of rex, regardless of their make-up, or should we make room in the Rex standard for mutations that might occur with radically different genetic makeup that would definitely affect the Rex as we know it today. Our standard calls for a complete absence of guard hairs, yet the Devon hair samples show it to contain guard hairs, as noted in Mr. Robinson's article. The Devon needs special handling by breeders who are well versed in their type of coat since there is a genetic difference in the makeup of the coat alone. The Devon has much to offer as a distinctly different type of rex. Hair studies can determine whether the cats can be bred together without changing the makeup of the coat, as Mr. Robinson stated, "As a group, the Cornish, German and Oregon rexes tend to be similar." And, "The hair samples reveal that the Devon rex differs from the other rexes."
[. . .] Quite precocious, the kitten is most active at birth and often opens its eyes by 3 to 5 days, almost always by the 7th day. The earliest for one of our kittens to show the sparkle of an opening eye was KATZENREICH'S MISHA, bred by William Beck, later known as GRAND CHAMPION KATZENREICH'S MISHA, out of our KATZENREICH'S KATRINA, a normal coated rex. She started to open her eyes on her first day of life! They begin to use the litter pan between 3 and weeks and are putting the cat pole to use by the 4th to 5th week, when the kittens usually are climbing to the first shelf. The Queen is a very devoted and loving mother, often sharing her litter with other Queens. Since we have had two or more queens, a litter has never been raised by just one mother. In fact, one kitten, LEIBCHEN, who survived an outbreak of Ulcerative Glossitis at the tender age of 1 week, was reared by no less than 5 queens, each onefeeling very responsible for her comfort! Our HOLLY outdid herself this past winter, and even provided milk for INGRID'S litter just four weeks before her own kitten was delivered!
We have leaned heavily toward breeding programs and future rex, so we would like to highlight the rex "stars" to date in the CFA awards with the All Star Rex Winners:
1963-1964 Daz-Zling Great White Father—All American Rex Cat. Breeder/Owner: Walter and Helen Weiss
1965-1966 Male — Ch. Daz-Zling Milky Way. Female — Ch. Daz-Zling Marguerite. Breeder/Owner: Walter and Helen Weiss
1966-1967 Gr. Ch. Hi-Fi's Hedwig of KatzenReich Breeder: Mrs. Joanne O'Shea, Owner: Bill and Mattie Beck
1967-1968 Gr. Ch. Rodell's Ravenesque Breeder/Owner: Bob and Dell Smith
1968-1969 Gr. Ch. Rodell's Ravenesque Breeder/Owner: Bob and Dell Smith
1969-1970 Gr. Ch. D'Este Quintessence of Rachel Breeder/Owner: Jim and Marj Estes
1970-1971 Gr. Ch. KatzenReich's Bianca Breeder/'Owner: Bill and Mattie Beck
Excerpts from “THE EXOTIC REX” by Rosemonde Pelz, published in the CFA Yearbook, 1974.
According to Dr R Scheuer-Karpin, the first German Rex, a female cat called Lammchen, had been observed prior rto 1947 at the Hufeland Hospital in berlin Buch. The cat had been fed by members of the hospital staff but was not found by Dr Schuer-Karpin and Miss Dorothy Diamond until 1951. Lammchen usually mated with Blackie, a tom to her liking and produced only normal coated kittens After the death of Blackie, the Little Lamb of Berlin was crossed to her son Fridolin The products of the cross were two curly male kittens, and two normal coated ones. From the next mating which was to a roaming tom, Dr Scheuer Karpin retained a black kitten. After reaching maturity, Blackie II and Lammchen produced kittens with some degree of regularity. From one of those matings came Christopher Columbus, a black male exported to the United States.
Lammchen died of cancer on December 19, 19 64 Dr Scheuer-Karpin estimates that she was about 20 years of age. Two years prior to her death she delivered her last kitten named Cleopatra. Four kittens of Lammchen came to the United States. A pair of normal coated hybrids were sent to Mrs Sarah Muckenhoubt, and then both Christopher Columbus and Cleopatra came to Mrs Joan O'Shea of New York
[. . .]Unlike other countries, all varieties of Rex are recognized as one breed in the United States It has been proved that the Cornish and German Rex cats are the same breed Two independent breeding experiments took place le 1970 Two separate crosses between Cornish and German Rex produced Rex kittens The first breeding was planned by Mr and Mrs Charles Tracy and Mr and Mrs Robert Smith Rodell’s Rimski, the Smith's Cornish Rex, was bred to the Tracys' German Rex Paw Prints Schatz On May 16. 1970 two rex kittens were born. Meanwhile, Mrs Weiss and Mrs Una Bailey of New Orleans achieved the same results Trinka's Icarus of Daz-Zling was crossed to New Moon's Kristina of the Willows and on May 25th of the same year five curly kittens were born
Several breedings, since these first two, have occurred to demonstrate the compatibility of Cornish and German Rex varieties. Thus it is demonstrated that a great spirit of cooperation exists among Rex breeders. The catterres involved were Rodell, belonging to Bob and Dell Smith, well known breeders as are Charles and Mable Tracy of Paw Prints in Maryland Una Bailey is a well known breeder in New Orleans and has bred and shown cats f or many years. Mrs. William O'Shea of New York imported German Rex and introduced the breed to Bill and Madclie Beck. The Beck's Katzenrerch cats are outstanding examples of the breed. Mrs Thomas Dugle's Nike cats and the Moontide Rex of Barbara Layton are well known as are those of the Estes in Texas These devotees of the breed as well as many others in the United States have produced some extraordinary cats.
The Forum, ed. Mable Tracy Vol 1, No. 1 Vol 5, No. 2, September 1969 January 1974,
Weiss, Helen Rex the , King CFA Year Book, 1965. ed. Christine Streetman. pp. 138 146.
When I came across Hi-Fi's Amy of Katzenreich in a USA news cutting, which mentioned both Rexes and American Wirehairs, I dug a bit deeper. I couldn't find Hi-Fi's Amy of Katzenreich in German Rex pedigrees. It turns out that Joan O’Shea, who bred German Rexes (she had imported Knuth’s Marigold and Christopher Columbus) also bred American Wirehairs. O’Shea went to see the first Wirehair after her friend had told about a cat similar to the German Rexes that O’Shea was already breeding. She acquired this cat, Adam, and bred him, enlisted the help of fellow Rex breeders, Bill and Madeline Beck, who took Adam’s daughter, Amy, and began a breeding program. The American Wirehair breed was recognised in 1967 by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). It seems likely that O’Shea and the Becks turned their attention from the German Rex to the American Wirehair. I have a suspicion that ongoing post-war politics made an all-American curly breed a more attractive proposition than a German breed.
REVIVAL OF THE GERMAN REX IN EUROPE
After the Paris exhibition, there were letters from Germany and abroad. A cat show judge and former detractor of the breed, Herr Barensfeld, acquired some kittens from Sister Getraude Knuth and began his own breeding programme in 1964. In 1965, German Rexes appeared at the Berlin Exhibition. The Barensfeld family in East Berlin maintained the pure German Rex lines and produced Ferdi, Roland and Silke von Grund (Grund being the Barensfield’s home). Herr Barensfeld became the first registered German Rex breeder.
Various East German cat breeders bred cats from Laemmchen's curly-coated offspring. These included Willy Kania (vom Jagdrain cattery), Thomas Hamann’s (vom Hause Hamann, in Erfurt), Rudi vom Glück’s Glücksanger cattery (vom Glücksklee , which mainly bred colourpointed cats), Annelie Hackman (“vom Assindia” and “vom Locki-Lanzerote") and E. Kloss (“vom Rotstein”). Herr Barensfeld also sent cats to Inge Woellner.
Between the late 1960s and the 1990s, the German Rex breed was in serious decline. German Rexes had been absorbed into the Cornish Rex breed. They lacked the legginess of the Cornish Rex or the pixie-features of the Devon Rex, while in the USA they may have been over shone by the American Wirehair (it is possible that politics played a part, with an all-American breed being preferred over a German breed). A few people still bred German Rexes, but the division of Germany was an obstacle to breeders communicating with each other or exchanging cats. This is where it is also lucky that Laemmchen’s unneutered offspring, especially the free-roaming males, had spread the Rex gene into local cat populations.
Inge Woellner (“von Zeitz”) in West Germany learned of the German Rex cats by chance, but the division of Germany made the acquisition of East German cats difficult. In 1973, she managed to get hold of breeding stock. A black-and-white Rexed male, Kater Preuss (“Prussian Tomcat”), was found at a riding stable in Siegburg (close to Essen) in 1979. The Woellner family changed his name from Pushkin to Kater Preuss. When mated to a heterozygous German Rex (a straight-coated cat carrying the Rex gene), only straight coated kittens resulted so he was castrated on the assumption he was a different mutation. This was unfortunate – it can take more than one test litter to get the expected 50/50 average split of straight-coat and curly-coat offspring. Some of his offspring were bred together and produced Rex kittens (i.e. a recessive gene). In August 1981, siblings "Xerri" and "Xanti," the offspring of Kater Preuss, they produced the first Si-German-Rex, “Diane-II of Zeitz," a smallish female whose offspring include Sissy-Rex. The Woellner’s most famous breeding male was "Dietrich von Zeitz".
By this time, breeders were seeking recognition for the German Rex. One obstacle to recognition was inconsistency in cats used as outcrosses by breeders either side of the Berlin Wall, this would lead to a divergence in type. FIFe experts faced a problem in 1982, when the German Rex sought recognition. One type had a straight "Roman" profile and the other had a clear nose-break. The breeder of the latter type was the more successful lobbyist and this standard was adopted.
Swiss breeder Frau Schwarzenbach owned "Ra Sitara von Assindia," "Shirin von Assindia” bred by Annelie Hackman. Her first three heterozygotes (from outcrosses) in 1997 were "Lump Sugar the Frizzled Frolic", "Jack Of All Trades the Frizzled Frolic" and “Lilly.” "Lump Sugar" (female) and "Jack" (male) became breeding cats. Thanks to these cats, the breed was rejuvenated. Schwarzenbach had not been breeding for a couple of years and by 1999 the breed was down to only 2 known breeding females (“Batu Happy von Quiomme”, and “Bonsai the Frizzled Frolic”) but no breeding males. Since there might be unneutered pet German Rexes, she advertised for a male. A cat rescue centre responded in 2000 that they'd obtained a male and female from a former breeder who was giving away his remaining cats.
That former breeder was Herr Glück who had a Si-German Rex female and a number of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Inge Woellner’s "Diane II von Zeitz." Sadly the cats had become practically wild so Herr Glück had asked the rescue group to capture them. The group’s leader kept the Si-German Rex female while it was planned to add "Gretel-Rex vom Glücksklee" and "Brahma-Rex vom Glücksanger"" and their unnamed red-point son to the rejuvenated breeding programme along with a very wavy cat dubbed "Laemmchen" in honour of the breed matriarch. The breeder's remaining cats were either feral or were sick and died soon after rescue. Unfortunately, during collection, the male cat panicked, suffered a serious head injury and had to be put down. The elderly female, Gretel, turned out to be pregnant and miscarried and (accounts differ) either died or was spayed to save her life. Luckily, there was an earlier daughter of Gretel and Brahma, named Happy (Batu Happy von Quiomme).
To further endanger the breed, the 3 year old Batu Happy vom Quiomme developed a womb inflammation due to not being bred so it was imperative she be mated otherwise she would also have to be spayed. The closest in conformation to the original German Rex was the Abyssinian so an Abyssinian stud, Segena’s Puschkin (b 1993), was used instead. Registry rules forbade using the Abyssinian in outcross programmes so the kittens’ sire was listed as a black-ticked housecat called Maximillian (his true identity being revealed some years later). This produced four male offspring.
Meanwhile, back to Annelie Hackman and Lump Sugar. With no German Rex stud available, Lump Sugar was bred to a blue-bicolour Cornish Rex/Maine Coon hybrid called Samson. Their offspring were two straight-coated females, a straight-coated male and a black-and-white curly-haired female named "Amarella First Curlyhead vom Batu". Amarella had to be spayed due to an inability to deliver her kittens normally. Lump Sugar also produced three more Rex kittens including Chuba Chups The Frizzled Frolic (by her full-brother, Jack of All Trades ) and Boogie Curlyhead vom Batu (by Segena’s Puschkin aka Maximillian)
The outcross Abyssinian, Maximillian/ Segena’s Puschkin, died in 2000 before he could be used in a repeat mating, but in 2001 his German Rex/Abyssinian son Boogie Curlyhead vom Batu was mated to a pure German Rex female, Bonsai the Frizzled Frolic and to Chuba Chups the Frizzled Frolic (both daughters of Lump Sugar and Jack of all Trades), that was now of age. The mating between Bonsai and Boogie Curlyhead produced a curly-haired kitten. The between Chuba Chups and Boogie Curlyhead also produced a curly-haired kitten.
After the reunification of East and West Germany, there were still East German catteries working in near isolation from the major western registries. Working with their own breeding lines, such catteries have preserved old bloodlines and maintained their purity. In 2005, some "German Rexes" turned up in Stralsund, NE Germany when a cat breeder (Moorteich cattery) requested help homing two litters of German Rex. They turned out to be descendants of known German Rex lines and useful additions to the gene pool. Their mother, Diana, was descended from well-known German Rex lines. Their father, Max, was also a German Rex with a known ancestry. His maternal grandmother was a Rex kitten (Pumina) found as a kitten in 1993 on a building site only 14km from where Laemmchen had been found. Pumina's own kittens were straight-coated, but when bred among themselves the Rex coat re-emerged and resulted in curly-coated Max. Pumina, who died in 1995, was possibly one of the "lost" descendants of Laemmchen. With such a convoluted history, it is impossible to know if modern German Rexes are genotypically the same as the original cats., however careful breeding will ensure they retain conformation distinct from the Cornish Rex.
Further "German Rexes" occurred in Berlin, Essen and Siegburg. Schnurzel, a black Rexed cat from Berlin, was owned by a coal merchant, who said it was a descendant of local feral cats. Its features indicated it was a descendant of Laemmchen. Others occurred far enough away that they were probably different mutations to Kater Munk and Laemmchen (unless they were transplanted by families moving from one region to another).
It is sometimes said, incorrectly, that the German Rex is a mix of Cornish and Devon Rexes. Because three Rex mutations appeared within a few years of each other, they were initially mated together. While German Rex and Cornish Rex proved to be the same, Devon Rex was found to be a different mutation. A Devon Rex mated to a Cornish Rex produced normal-haired offspring which could be bred to each other to produce “Double Rexes” having both genes.
The ancestry of Hasse and Hetty of Wessel (normal coated carriers) shows how intertwined the 3 Rex breeds are. At face value it appears a German Rex was bred from two Devon Rex parents, but going back a couple more generations finds a Devon Rex/Cornish Rex cross. The fact that the two Wessel cats were normal-coated, tells us that Kernow Lur was displaying the Cornish Rex mutation from their great-great grandmother. And since Cornish Rex and German are caused by the same gene, they joined the German Rex breeding programme. Later on, German Rexes in the USA were absorbed into the Cornish Rex breed.
Another oddity is that A’Lump Sugar the Frizzled Frolic (GRX carrier) x Dainty Rex (GRX carrier) produced Batu's Hamlet Rex who should be a German Rex or a carrier. Hamlet Rex is recorded as a Devon Rex (sometimes as a DRX / GRX) and his offspring (from a domestic female called Mutzi) were recorded as German Rex and European Shorthair. Hasse and Hetty appear far back in Hamlet’s pedigree, so perhaps he’d proven to be a Double Rex.
Apart from domestic shorthairs, Devon and Cornish Rexes, the following breeds appear in German pedigrees: Burmese (in the ancestry of Hasse and Hetty of Wessel), Siamese (into the von Zeitz lines), a possible Maine Coon (grandfather of Amarella First Curlyhead), Persian (mother of Bonefacius in the von Grund lines), Abyssinian (vom Batu lines, rescuing the German Rex breed), Ocicat (Katzentreppen and European Star lines), British Shorthair, American Shorthair and European Shorthair. Nowadays, the German and Swiss breeders widen the gene pool by outcrossing to European Shorthairs. They do not outcross to American cats, especially as the American Cornish Rex has physically diverged so far from the original British Cornish Rex.
Diva Dramatica von Hause Hamann was a longhair whose parents were a white Persian father, Felix v. Bergfried, and a black German Rex mother, Serena von Grund. Serena carried the longhair gene from her great-grandmother Marfa v. Bibichenstein, hence the longhair offspring. Diva was bred to Earl vom Jagdrain (whose ancestors included Devon Rex, Cornish Rex and Persian), producing the German Rex Jamaica v. Hause Hamann who was mated to two different British Shorthairs and the offspring were registered as European Shorthairs and British Shorthairs.
There is a possible link from the German Rex to the Bohemia Rex/Czech Curly Cat that appeared in Liberec, The Czech Republic around 1981 when curly-coated kittens were born to pedigree Persian parents. Their parents could be traced back to 2 blue Persian males imported from Germany in the 1970s and it is possible that these carried the German/Cornish Rex gene generations earlier. We know that at least one Persian was recorded in German Rex pedigrees. German Rex records are incomplete, but it’s possible that some PER x GRX cats found their way back into the Persian breed.
UNRAVELLING THE REXES
The intertwined roots of the first three Rex breeds are interesting to breed historians. With no such thing as DNA testing, identification was based on appearance + simple Mendelian inheritance. In the early 1960s, many breeds still allowed foundation cats of unknown ancestry to be registered if they had the correct appearance. When you look at her ancestry, Du-Bu Jayne, who appears in pedigrees as Devon Rex was actually Cornish Rex. She became a foundation cat in the Devon Rex breeding programme so she appears on pedigrees as a Devon Rex not a Cornish Rex!
Mr Brian Sterling-Webb, an early breeder of the "English Rex" (Cornish Rex) used Kirlee as an outcross. Repeated attempts to mate Kirlee (now known to be a Devon Rex) to Sterling-Webb’s Cornish Rex queens produced only straight-haired offspring . When Kirlee was mated to one of the straight coated females, Broughton Purley Queen, this produced the curly-coated female, Broughton Golden Rain, a Double Rex that was registered as Devon Rex.
The chart below shows how the Double Rexes were mated to either or both the Devon Rex and Cornish Rex and how their offspring went into either programme. Because Cornish Rex and German Rex are caused by the same mutation, descendants of Annelida Pearly King also went into the German Rex breeding programme.
After all of this mixing of Rex genes, what is an “authentic” German Rex? To be considered a German Rex, a cat must be able to trace its lineage back to Lammchen.
The comparative rarity of the German Rex (and its absence in the USA) leads to errors even in comparatively recent scientific literature. In “To the Root of the Curl: A Signature of a Recent Selective Sweep Identifies a Mutation That Defines the Cornish Rex Cat Breed” by Barbara Gandolfi, Hasan Alhaddad, Verena K. Affolter, Jeffrey Brockman, Jens Haggstrom, Shannon E. K. Joslin, Amanda L. Koehne, James C. Mullikin, Catherine A. Outerbridge, Wesley C. Warren, Leslie A. Lyons (PLoS One. 2013; 8(6): e67105. Published online 27 June 2013), the authors erroneously state that the German Rex was developed from the Cornish Rex:
“All Cornish Rex were fixed for the mutation and no straight haired cats carried the mutation. Only the German Rex breed, a breed with few individuals and developed from Cornish Rex, also had the LPAR6 mutation. The two heterozygous German Rex had straight hair and the mutation was not allelic to some other unknown rexoid mutations. Hence, the German Rex was established from a mutation that characterized and is unique to the Cornish Rex breed, which is also confirmed by the phenotypic similarities between the two breeds, from the nature of the curls and the bent and twisted vibrissae. German Rex are not fixed for the curly mutation because the breed never became popular and the breed is still represented by a small pedigree of cats.”
In fact German Rex are fixed for the mutation (recessive mutations breed true) and the straight-coated individuals come from outcrosses necessary to widen the gene pool (shown on pedigrees as XSH or XLH, not as GRX). It seems that no German Rex breeders were contacted for the breed history by the authors! To be clear – though the two breeds have been crossed at times, the German Rex comes from a mutation that occurred in a cat from Berlin, it was not developed from Cornish Rexes.
The genealogies below have be constructed from pedigree databases and from news cuttings. Click on the image to get the full size downloadable image.
Catalogue 1. International Cat Exhibition in Berlin 1965
Letard , Professor Etienne: Un chat nomme Rex. Nature Magazine, April 1965, pp. 32-35.
Letard , Professor Etienne: Le chat ondule. Le Journal de Mickey, No 807., 1967 (Le Journal de Mickey [Mickey Mouse Comic] is a French weekly popular with 8 - 13 year old children).
Scheuer-Karpin, Dr R.: About the discovery and pure cultivation of the German Rex. The Edelkatze, June 1964 pp.4-5.
Searle, A.G., and A.C. Jude, A.C.: The Rex type of coat in the domestic cat. Journal of Genetics, vol. 54, No 3; pp; 506-512. 1956
Suchsdorf, Suchsdorf, in National Geographic, 1964, April: The Cats in our Lives. Vol.125, no. 4; page 540