German Rex - Early History

Early History

An early Rex-type cat from Germany was Kater Munk, a cat of the family of one Erna Schneider, that was born 1930 or 1931 in a village near then-Königsberg, German Reich (today's Kaliningrad, Russia). Munk was the son of a mahogany Angora cat and a Russian Blue. There were one (some sources say two) other curly cat(s) in the litter which was castrated early. Munk spread his genes plentifully among the village's cat population till his death in 1944 or 1945. The Schneiders valued the strong tom with a penchant for catching fish from the family's garden pond for himself, not for his curly coat; he was, it seems, referred to colloquially as a Preußig Rex ("Prussian Rex", in local dialect). German Rex researchers do not consider Kater Munk to be related to the German Rex breed and state that he was never bred.

In the summer of 1951, a doctor in Berlin-Buch (Pankow borough), Rose Scheuer-Karpin, noticed a black curly-coated cat in the Hufelandklinik hospital garden. The clinic's personnel told her that they had known the cat since 1947. The doctor named the cat Lämmchen (German for "little lamb"). Her supposition that she must be the result of a mutation, was shown to be correct. Thus Lämmchen was the first breeder-owned Rex-type cat and the maternal ancestor of all the current German Rex.

The first two German Rex deliberately bred were two Rex kittens from a 1957 litter of four, offspring of Lämmchen and the straight-coated son Fridolin she had with a stray black tom Blackie adopted by Scheuer-Karpin. Lämmchen died on December 19, 1964 or in 1967, indicating she had been very young when first sighted in 1947. She left a number of Rex and hybrid descendants - the last one of her offspring was born in 1962 - most of which were used to improve other breeds such as the Cornish Rex which was suffering from skin problems due to being descended from genetically impoverished thoroughbred stock. In 1968, the lineage hinged on the efforts of the GDR cattery vom Grund who acquired the last 3 Rex offspring of Lämmchen not sold abroad, and amplified the lineage with European Shorthair and mixed-breeds. A stock was established in the West through the efforts of the FRG von Zeitz cattery in 1973 which in the previous year had acquired their sample of the allele with the white female hybrid Silke vom Grund. After some years, the breed slowly became more plentiful.

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