You know that “weird” looking cat that looks like it is naked? Not the biggest favourite cat of the world, but loved by some, because of its unusual appearance and high energy level. Today I bring you a guide on the Sphynx cat.
Perhaps you have seen them before, the Sphynx cat is a typical naked. The naked part is that they do not have any hair. That makes that the face is very visible on skin level as well as the rest of their body. It reminds perhaps most of a bold person or an old person, with shrively skin hanging over and a pale skin colour.
In this guide I will tell you the facts, the history and origin as well as what you can expect from a typical sphynx cat.
Sphynx Breed Facts
Scientific name: Felis Catus
Average weight: 6-12 pounds (2.7 – 5.7 kg)
Average size: medium-sized
Average price (breeder): 1000 USD
Average Lifespan: 5 – 10 years
Fits best in with:
Rescue A Sphynx: Sphynx @ Rescueme
Sphynx Origin & History
By the name Sphynx one may think that it is linked to Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had their God race called the Sphinx, a half human half cat or dog figure. Even though the cat was a pet held by many Egyptians, the Sphynx was not part of their country.
The main reason for the Sphynx not being from Egyptian origin, is that this relatively new breed originated from Toronto (Canada) all the way back in 1966. A kitten of a domestic black and white cat, became hairless because of a mutational genetic error by the name Prune. After this rather special phenomena, they backcrossed the kitten with its mother, which resulted in yet another hairless kitten.
The resulting hairless kitten was named Sphynx as a reference to the giant limestone sculptures in the Ancient Egyptian Desert where the statues and sculptures were eroded smooth by the elements of weather.
What followed was a bunch of kittens of the original breedings of this special cat. The original breeders managed to establish a provisional cat breed status, but unfortunately it was shortly after revoked (1971), because the breed had an inadequate gene pool and lacked a standard.
In 1975 and 1976 several more naked kittens were born with the same genetic error, by domestic farm cats in Wadena Minnesota (USA). What followed was a bunch more kittens born in Texas, Arkansas and Minnesota resulting from two important (stronger) female kittens named Epidermis and Dermis.
The breeders were rather inexperienced with creating stronger gene pools and the result was that many kittens died. The cats also had a lot of health issues.
The last two descendants of the 1966 born kitten Prune were sent to The Netherlands where they were to be mated with other cats. The male was uninterested in doing so, while the female had one litter with another male, but ultimately lost it due to illnesses. Two further hairless female kittens were found in Toronto and sent to The Netherlands for breeding purposes in 1978 and 1980, but also they lost their litter.
A long story short, no male descendants lived or reproduced, which results in that all modern Sphynx are actually not tracing back to the original Sphynx breed.
After this rather sad story, breeders used the Devon Rex stud to create new “Sphynx” cats, but this was frowned upon, because it caused a lot of health-related issues.
The modern Canadian pure-bred Sphynx is simply a more recent genetic error bred hairless kitten. The gene pool of the more modern version of Sphynx cats has a stronger gene pool then the original from 1966 and 1975.
Personality of the Sphynx
Sphynx cats are enormously energetic cats that want a lot of attention. They are excellent therapy cats, because they love to be handled and cuddled and are extremely social.
When there are no fans around for him, he will start exploring his surroundings, climbing cat trees and play with toys. At other times though, just like any other domestic cat, they will try to find a place to snug away in and sleep. They prefer it nice and warm, so your blanket or close up to your clothing is going to be the place to go to for a warm cuddly nap.
Sphynx will come to you all the time to say “Hi, I am here, let’s play”. Expect to be bothered most of the time with whatever you are doing in your house.
As Sphynx cats are extremely social and active, they need a companion for when you are gone. Sphynx are however very easy with what type of companion that should be. They are okay with the introduction of another Sphynx or another cat or dog in their family.
Although we call them hairless, they actually have tiny little hairs all over their body, which we could compare to the undercoat of a regular cat, or the tiny hairs on our own face.
The colour of their skin represents the colour that their coat would have been, if they had one. Spynx come in all colours and patterns that we are used to with domestic cats.
Sphynx cats feel very warm to the touch. Their body is not warmer than that of any other regular cat, but because they have so little fur, it may seem like they have a higher body temperature.
Sphynx kittens look often very wrinkly in their skin, but as they grow, their skin becomes more firm and smoothed out.
Sphynx have barely any eyebrows or whiskers if any at all. They look rather well-fed around their waist, but this is part of their build rather then having actually eaten too much. They also feature slim legs and upper body and a wedge shaped head. Their ears are usually rather large and they got large lemon-shaped eyes.
They are also extremely talkative with their chitter and chattering. You can have a whole conversation with them as they will also respond to your chatter. It is very entertaining to see several of them in the room, chattering and running in around.
Maintainance & Healthcare
Although a Sphynx does not have any hair to groom or brush, the care for a Sphynx might very well be greater than that of a more regular furry cat.
First of all, the oil that is excreted from the skin for optimal protection of the fur and body against weather, will have little use without the presence of hair. This oil will accumulate and end up on your pants, textiles and furniture. The oil also accumulates on their body and dries out, leaving a yellow-ish hard substance.
To take care of the oil, weekly bathing is required with a mild baby shampoo or a special pet shampoo. After the bath you need to apply a special hydrating cream to hydrate their skin as they dry easily out. Alternatively you may also be able to put off with the bath at times by sponging the cat instead.
Because of the lack of hair on the body, the Sphynx also lacks hairs inside the ear-channel. This means that dirt easily builds up. Dirt can in turn be the cause of infections, so it is essential to clean their ear-channel out regularly with a Q-tip. The cleaning is difficult with such an active animal and you have to be careful to not damage the inner ear-drum while doing so. Check their ears weekly for dirt to clean out.
Because of the lack of eyebrows, Sphynx tear a lot. The tears will build up in the form of a yellow substance, which needs to be cleaned away often. You will have to clean their eyes daily. Use a fresh piece of papercloth for each of their eyes, as to not spread any possible infections.
Their teeth need to be brushed daily or at least weekly to prevent periodontal disease. This is a general thing with cats, but at least are bred Sphynx conditioned for daily brushing, so it might be easier to apply to them then to any other adult cat you get.
If you feel cold inside your house, your Sphynx will definitely be cold. Be sure to buy (or knit) a special warm jumper. Clothing or raising the temperature indoors is essential for their survival. They can easily catch a respitory infection if not taken care of properly.
As the Sphynx is naked without its protective fur and also doesn’t have the use of the protective oil, they will be easily catching a cold outside.
Especially the sun can be dangerous to them, as their skin is not protected from the sun. Burns and cancer can be the result, so protect your cat with a good cat-safe suncream and give them in addition some protective clothing.
A Sphynx cat is also very expensive to own (breeder price usually around 1.000 USD), so it is a very much wanted cat for interested (or black market) to be stolen.
The best option I have in stock for those owners that want their Sphynx to enjoy some outdoor air, is by installing a catio (cat-patio) or by having them in a harnass and be walked by you.
The Sphynx cat is known to have little health related issues and is generally identified as a strong breed. Having said that, have both pedigree and cross-race bred cats shown genetic health issues that can also be causing a Sphynx some problems.
As such the following general cat genetic health issues have been identified in Sphynx cats:
- Urticaria Pigmentosa, a skin condition that causes lesions all over their body (red spots).
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease
- Hereditary Myopathy, a muscle condition
Families with kids and experienced cat owners that have one or more other cats are ideal for the Sphynx. The rather active Sphynx needs nearly constant stimulation in the form of play. Children will, if they are respectful and polite to them, be able to learn them tricks and have a lot of fun playing with them.
When a Sphynx lives with other cats or a dog, they will still meet the requirements of play and fun together. Sphynx cats should absolutely not be alone at home without anyone to take care of them most of the day, such as is the case with a single person who works all day. Single people can still have a Sphynx when the Sphynx is joined by other Sphynx or other cats or a peaceful dog.
I have often heard the response “Ugh what an ugly cat to have” from people responding to the images we show them of Sphynx or Devon Rex cats. I am very much aware that some people find this cat to be ugly or a freak, but the cat is just as much a cat as any other cat.
It is a very shallow and direct thought response of someone having little to no knowledge of the cat in question. The best thing you can do to those people, is forward them to this page, so they can get properly educated about the cat. It is often that people respond quickly on something they don’t know anything about with a silly answer.
As the cat actually comes from a family of normal haired cats, it isn’t less cat for being naked. If you were to touch a Sphynx, you will notice that their skin doesn’t feel icky or scarily naked, but rather soft like silk. They are warm to the touch and they are extremely fun and playful.
There are cat cafe’s out there that have Sphynx cats running around, if you ever would like to just see one for yourself.
The Sphynx, however perhaps looking strange to you, is an absolutely lovely cat to be with and have. They are extremely active and agile and love to snug up to your warm body.
They need therefore also a playmate in the form of either a family of children, other cats or a dog.
Sphynx need a lot of maintainance and have some health related issues, so be ready for a lot of extra work. But all in all they are lovely to have. Do know though that there is a waiting list at breeders to obtain one, as they are very rare.
Gotten interested in owning your own Sphynx? Have questions about the Sphynx cat I didn’t answer yet? Tell me what you think about the Sphynx in the comments below.