Grooming Tips: Devon Rex
The unique Devon coat requires some different grooming strategies.
First, it is important to understand what elements combine to create the best coat for show presentation.
Unlike many other breeds, the Devon coat needs natural oils dispersed down each hair shaft in order to lay down properly and wave in a pleasing manner.
At the same time, too much oil or dirty hair will result in a coat that separates and looks dull. Hence the timing of the show bath becomes significant.
As each Devon varies in oil production and coat porosity, one must experiment with each and every cat to ascertain the timing for the show bath that will allow that cat's coat to peak on the show weekend.
Proper application of moisturizing shampoos and topical hydrating lotions, sprays and cremes can also be of great value.
Multiple shampooing, popular in other breeds, is counterproductive in the Devon Rex. The idea here is not to strip the coat of all oils but to cleanse the coat of dust and dirty oils, leaving it clean but not dried out.
If a show Devon is being bathed on a weekly basis, one good shampooing with a moisturizing shampoo is usually sufficient. Devons that are shown sporadically and bathed on a less frequent schedule will require a second application of shampoo.
The use of a moisturizing conditioner that will be rinsed out is advised for heavily coated cats and/or those with a drier or coarser coat texture. Lightly coated and fine coated Devons may be advised to skip this step as a flattening of the coat may otherwise result. The Devon coat should lay down but it should not lay flat.
Pay special attention to the feet and nail beds. Overly oily Devons will build up oil between the paw pads and around the claw base. A soft brush will help cleanse these areas but be prepared for a ticklish cat to object.
Never blow dry the Devon coat as it not only can overdry the hair but it will create an artifical lift that negates the natural wave. Rather towel dry the Devon employing a soft rub and patting, then smooth the coat with the hand into a natural lie and permit the Devon the lick itself dry in a warm room or area.
The Rebuilding of the Wave:
Once the coat is air dried, the natural body oils will begin the process of dispersing down the hair shafts. If this natural process takes more time than the calendar permits between bath and show day then topical moisturizers must be employed.
The freshly bathed coat tends to be slightly drier and more 'lifted' than the lush coat that pleases the judges in the show ring. The application of non-greasy moisturizers, not oils, can bring the coat back to peak condition. These should be applied incrementally to permit the coat to absorb them completely before the next application.
Slowly build towards the peak coat by applying the chosen moisturizer and then wiping the dressed coat down with a slightly dampened wash cloth to stimulate an orderly wave. This process can take mere hours or extend over several days depending upon the dryness and texture of the coat.
Experimenting with the coat, the various products, and the modification process is best done well in advance of the show.
White and lighter colored coats that require bathing on the eve or the morning of the show require the coat to be rapidly rehydrated, hence complete absorption between layers of hydrators must be skipped and the applications separated by half hours and even periods of ten minutes or less.
This can be tricky so as not to over hydrate and end up with a sticky coat. Use the hydration products sparingly but frequently and use the dampened wash cloth liberally between applications to prevent over build up. Again, experimenting and practicing well before the show is highly beneficial.
Be sure to check labels on all products to be used on white and light coats to avoid any using any that contain yellow dyes.