Cat Breeds: The Sphynx Cat

Cat Breeds: The Sphynx Cat

When it comes to attention demanding, they don’t get more noticeable than the Sphynx cat. It’s a good job these little extroverts are friendly and curious because they get a lot of second glances thanks to their nearly hairless appearance. This naked little darling is often overlooked by some as being ugly due to their lack of fur and wrinkly skin, but a true cat lover will only see beauty.

Where does the Sphynx cat come from?

The Sphynx is another relatively new addition to the world of registered cat breeds. The first known documented Sphynx’s appeared in the northern most part of North America and Canada in the 1970s.

A hairless kitten was born into a litter at a Minnesota farm, she was followed a year later by another bald kitten. They were both used to start what is the Sphynx line we know today by a breeder in Oregon. Two years later a set of three hairless kittens were found in Toronto and were also carefully crossbred to strengthen the new Sphynx line. Despite the fact both sets of cats originated in a part of the world that can get very cold, their lack of fur was a gene mutation and completely naturally occurring.

What should a Sphynx cat look like?

Many Sphynxes do actually have some fur with it usually appearing around their ears, toes and tail. Their entire body is covered with a delicate soft down making them feel just like an apricot. As they have no thick fur to insulate them, they’ll often feel warmer to the touch than a full coated cat.

Once you overlook the obvious lack of hair, the Sphynx actually has several other physical attributes that add to their unique charm. Their huge eyes are exaggerated by their lack of fur as are their large triangular ears which makes it hard to look away from a Sphynx that’s got your attention.

Although they appear wrinkly, their skin has no more wrinkles than a full coated cat and as they mature from kittenhood, the wrinkles will smooth out with only a few remaining.

What sort of personality does the Sphynx cat have?

Anyone who has enjoyed the popular TV show friends will remember the episode “the one with the ball” where Rachel gets a cat (regardless of Joey’s insistence it’s not a cat!). Despite Rachel’s despair her new Sphynx isn’t as sweet as she remembers her grandmother’s being, Sphynxes are actually incredibly friendly and affectionate cats.

They’re another breed described as having dog like tendencies as they love to play fetch, will happily follow you around the house and greet you with an enthusiastic welcome when you get home. Sphynx’s generally love being handled and love making new friends whether it’s with new owners, children or other animals.

When they start feeling too cold, they’ll seek out a warm spot and think nothing of joining their owners under the bed covers.

What health problems are common with Sphynx Cats?

No fur doesn’t mean no grooming, looking after a Sphynx can be as demanding as any long haired cat. Cat’s fur is designed to help pull dirt and oils away from the skin, as the Sphynx has no hair to do this, they’ll be dependent on you for regular baths and your vet will be able to offer advice on the best doggy shampoo to use.

Another result of their playful, inquisitive nature is they’ll never meet another living thing they won’t want to befriend or nook or cranny they don’t want to investigate. You’ll need to make sure all kitchen cupboards are cat proof and if your Sphynx is going to be allowed free roam outside, you might find yourself frequently asking neighbours to check sheds and garages.

It’s often assumed the Sphynx is hypoallergenic because of their lack of fur which isn’t the case. Those allergic to cats are usually allergic to a protein secreted through saliva and skin glands which the Sphynx still has.

Just like several other pedigree cats like the Maine coon and the Ragdoll, the Sphynx can also carry the gene for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is the most common form of heart disease in cats and can be fatal at a young age especially if both the cat’s parents carried the gene. Luckily there are great screening options available now and reputable breeders will make sure no cats are sired from cats with this gene defect. Always ask your breeder to see proof neither of your new kitten’s parents carry the defective gene.