of the German Rex
This is "Munk" of
the year 1930 in Koenigsberg/East Prussia. He had one blue curled
His mother was a Angora and the father was a Russian
Blue. The German rex breeders Woellner from Germany (cattery
"von Zeitz") had contact with the owner of Munk, Mrs.
Schneider from Koenigsberg. These
received information and a picture of "Munk". The
only picture is now property by Ilona Jaenicke (cattery
Laemmchen's ancestry was not known. Her wavy coat could have been the result of a mutation, either in herself or in one of her ancestors. A mutation could have been expected to turn up in her offspring; but the inheritance pattern is recessive, i.e., it will not show in the phenotype, although the animal with a coat of normal appearance will carry the gene for the mutation. The normal, however, is usally dominant; and, therefore, it is necessary for the genes of both parents to carry the new quality to produce a specimen showing that quality-in our case the wavy coat. Thus the kittens from Blackie, although they appeared normal, could all be carriers of the wavy coat. Homes were found for all four kittens,in the hopes that a male could later be mated with Laemmchen.
In the meantime, Laemmchen produced each spring and autumn a litter of four black kittens with Blackie. Soon the market became saturated with black kittens, and they had to be given away to places far out of reach: to Dresden, to Weimar and to West Berlin. They were all taken by their new owners as pets. The Berlin Cat Club did not show any interest in my account of Laemmchen, and nobody was keen to cooperate in a breeding program.
In 1953 my London friend, a scientist who had seen my Laemmchen, wrote to me that reports had appeared in the British press about the discovery of a cat with a wavy coat, which had been given the name Rex by the author of the original article a Mr. A.C. Jude. My friend got in touch with Mr. Jude, who showed a keen interest in my own discovery and asked for samples of its hair as well as photographs. Both were supplied.
Jude was preparing a paper to be published with A.G.
Searle in the Journal of Geneics, where a detailed study
of the respective parameters may be found, as regards the
hair types of two Rex cats.
proof was not possible until Blackie disappeared. He may
have been killed, but not by accident. There were many
cat haters about in those days. This happened in 1956,
and Laemmchen was left by herself trought the autumn and winter, until she began to show signs of being in heat in
January, 1957. Her son Friedolin, born in 1955, was
brought to her, but she refused to have anything to do
with him. Another meeting had to be arranged in February;
and Laemmchen and Friedolin had to be confined in my
bathroom for a whole week until she finally succumbed to
Friedolin's ardor. On the second day of April, 1957,
Laemmchen produced a litter with one normal-coated and three
wavy-coated kittens, all black. One of the latter died
after 48 hours. Both remaining Rex kittens were male. One
of these found a good home in the neighborhood and was
named Sputnik-it was the year of the first satellite in Russia. Sputnik was free to go as he pleased and must
have fathered numerouskittens who all carried the Rex gene. Some of these could have
survived. The other pure
Rex went to England; it had to be put in quarantine
according to this country's laws before being given to Mr.
Jude. Unfortunately the poor kitten died after
approximately six weeks while being kept there, possibly
due to some intercurrent illness or careless nursing. It
was more than four months old when my friend had taken it
with her to London; and it was in perfect health.
March 10th, 1960. Two Rex kittens were born, one male and one female, sired by Blackie, as had became the rule by now. Professor Letard in Paris wished to have both; but even before all the required formalities for sending the kittens abroad had been fulfilled; another litter was born, on July 3rd. It consisted of three kittens with a normal coat and one male rex. The two kittens that went to Paris by air had been forgotten by the stewardess who was to look after them abd had remained on the plane when it returned to Warsaw. When this unfortunate event came to light the Polish airline sent them to Zurich, from whence the poor creatures went to Paris and arrived in a most deplorable state. The female succumbed to the infection and dehydration acquired from this ordeal of a three-day journey with no cleaning and no drink-in spite of Professor Letard's expert medical attention. He succeeded though to pull trough the male kitten and named him, in view of his travels, Marco Polo. Marco, for short, became very attached to the professor; he was friendly and cheerful and most responsive.
was also the first German Rex to be shownin public;
the occasion was
after this show letters were arriving with questions and
requests regarding my cats. Simultaneously, Professor
Letard began a systematic breeding program, and by mating
Marco with "blonde et bleue" (dilute, blue)
lady cats of normal coat character, followed by
inbreeding with Marco on the one hand and coloured cats
on the other, he achieved Rex cats of various colors. I
had the opportunity to see one of his pure white Rexes in
Paris a few years later.
But Laemmchen was busy in the late autumn and produced another pure Rex male; and this one was promised to Mrs. O'Shea, who cooperated with Mrs. Muckenhoupt. A heterozygous male followed in April 1961, and went also to the States.
first male Rex who went to America became, fittingly,
But subsequently more kittens had been acquired from Laemmchen and Curlie
with nurse Gertraude) and altogether eleven kittens, both
homozygous and heterozygous, became the ancestors of the
German Rexes in the States, bred by Mrs. O'Shea of Vernon, N.Y. and Mrs. Muckenhoupt of New Highlands, Mass. Both
ladies used to write to me about the progress of their
cat families for several years until the contact we had
was broken by my leaving East Berlin and coming to this
country (England) in 1970.
have become clear by now, Laemmchen's at first
uncontrolled and later carefully recorded offspring were numerous. Some of the kittens taken over as pets
according to what the owners told me later, "disappeared,"
and a small number had been neutered. It was, therefore,
no surprise to me when a curly tom turned up in the neighbourhood. His ancestry could not be established with
certainty. His mother was said to have been found as a
stray in Berlin, and he was born in 1959 or so. There had
been plenty of litters by Laemmchen before 1959, and
plenty of chances that two related kittens found each
other as mates to produce homozygous offspring. Indeed,
who knows what had gone on before Laemmchen made her
appearance at my hospital?
German cat breeders were slow to recognize the German Rex. It was only after the news from Paris reached them that interest was aroused for the curly cat. The German Rex was first shown at Dresden in 1964, and a year later also in East Berlin. Visitors from West Germany and other western countries who had seen the Cornish Rex before the German Rex found the latter most attractive, and there were some prospective buyers. Now one of my old acquaintances from the East Berlin Cat Club-who had formerly shown indifference to my account of Laemmchen's discovery-bought kittens from nurse Gertraude and started his own breeding program.
last kitten Cleopatra was born in 1962, and went to the States, as her older siblings had
done. Then all Blackie's
attemps to seduce Laemmchen became futile; she just
wanted to be left in peace. In the summer of the year
1964 Laemmchen developed a cystic growth on her anterior mamillae; it became necessary to remove it
and the histology picture appeared to be benign. The post-operative
period was most satisfactory, as to her general condition.
She was eating and anjoying her meals; and she allowed
Blackie to mount her, although somewhat reluctantly.
Otherwise her behaviour was that of an aging cat: she
used to sleep most of the time. She did not appear to be pregnant. The beginning of December brought a marked
deterioration in her condition: she ceased to eat, lost
weight and was hardly able to move. She was meticulously
clean to the end and died on December 19, 1964.