The Tennessee Rex is a new natural mutation breed of cat that began in 2004. Franklin Whittenburg discovered the breed when a normal stray cat came into his life. He named his new pet Satin Surprise, and she gave him a real surprise. She soon delivered a litter of beautiful kittens, but two looked very different. Two red boys were born with curly hair, and they appeared to have a shimmer on their coats. The shimmer could not be washed off the kittens, and the kittens shimmer gave them a satin look to the coat. Franklin had never bred cats, but he new there was something unique about the kittens. He contacted some cat breeder, a cat geneticist, TICA, and some rodent breeders about his kittens. After much work and research, it was concluded that these kittens had a unique recessive gene that caused not only a curly coat, but also the satin effect to the hair. The Tennessee Rex breed had started and a beautiful new cat was added to the fancy.
Appearance, Marking and colors
The Tennessee Rex got their name from Franklin because they were found in his home town in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since they had the curls in the coat, he thought Tennessee Rex would be a great name. The Tennessee Rex cat is in the beginning stages with TICA to be a registered championship cat. There are very few breeders at this time, and the breed is just getting more energy infused from new people wanting to breed and show these cats.
The Tennessee Rex can be any color, but most of them are red (orange) or red and white. The satin effect is more clearly seen on the lighter colors, but it can be seen on the darker colors to some extent. The cats are medium sized with the look of a typical “country” (rural area) cat appearance. The breed standard was written to attempt to keep the original look from the sweet stray that first gave birth to the beginning of this breed. As people see the Tennessee Rex, they are excited about the satin shine they have. Some people have actually thought that a hair product that produces the shine was added to the coat, and they attempted to wipe it off. But, the shine is part of the hair and enhances the overall color of the cats’ coats.
Personality and Temperament
After the joy of seeing the coat subsides, people get to know the personality of the Tennessee Rex. They are loving cats that really want to be in your lap. The Tennessee Rex wants to be a part of the family and strive to be on the bed, on the couch, or following you around the house. They like other pets, but will need some time to adjust to new surroundings and animals (but most cats are this way). Overall, they are a quiet cat, but they will make noise when they want their food or your attention. Of course, we always respond to the noise with love.
There is a little care involved with Tennessee Rexes as pets. Their ears will need to be cleaned monthly in most cases. Some do not have wax build up, but many of them do. Using a clean q-tip in the ears about once a month will keep the ears clean. They eat like any other normal cat, so no special diet is needed. They take to the litter box very quickly and love as many beds as can be provided. Cat toys, cat trees, and scratching posts are greatly appreciated by the Tennessee Rex and will use them daily. The are two coats for the Tennessee Rex-some have short hair and some have long hair. Both love to be brushed, but the long hair will need brushed more frequently to keep the hair fluffy. They tend not to need a bath, but bathing the long hair will cause the curls to be more prominent. The long hair cats also show the satin and the curls better than the shorthair.
Overall, the Tennessee Rex will be a new pet for many people. They are exciting since they are the only cat that has both curls in the hair and satin in the hair. When you see the Tennessee Rex, you may first just think it is another cat. But when you look again, you will see the uniqueness that has made so many people fall in love with them.
About the Author
Johnny Gobble, DVM
Johnny Gobble first attempted breeding at a young age with a small aquarium of guppy fish. The fish did breed, and his interest in the hobby grew. Over the next few years, his family would raise registered Quarter horses, rabbits, and dogs while Johnny hobbied with hamsters and gerbils. After high school, Johnny took a break from breeding while in college, but took many classes on genetics and management of breeding animals as he worked toward his Veterinary degree. Once graduation from Veterinary school, he met Brittney. After marrying Brittney, Johnny and Brittney started showing and breeding cats. They have some experience in dogs, chickens, and exotic birds also. They have been involved in the cat fancy with shows, breeding, and advising for the last 9 years. Both are committee members within the TICA organization and manage multiple websites that have breeding, showing, and health information.