Definitely not everyone finds this cat with no hair attractive. While to one person Sphynx cats are adorable, others feel that their appearance is just too different. If you are prejudiced against these cats you might reconsider once you learn more here about the origins of the breed, their personality, care, nutrition, and how to raise a Sphynx kitten.
The Sphynx breed’s Origins
There are many different versions of this breed’s origins. The oldest one is that they came from South America, where hairless cats were found in the wild. Because of the name Sphynx many people are also mistakenly under the impression that the cat came from Egypt. The name, however, is based purely on their appearance.
In Canada, during the 1960s and 1970s, people tried to breed a cat with no hair. The Canadian Hairless breed was crossed with the Devon Rex, a breed that naturally has little hair. This eventually gave rise to the Sphynx. So the breed, in fact, has no link to the South American hairless cats.
Sphynxes were first recognised as an official breed in 2005 and have gained worldwide popularity since then.
Sphynx Cats’ appearance
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about sphynx cats is, of course, what they look like. While to many this cat with no hair is beautiful, others find them unattractive.
Contrary to popular belief, this breed does have some hair, but it is very short and fluffy. When you stroke these cats it feels like peach skin. Their hair is usually a bit longer on their ears, nose, feet and tail.
The cat's head is triangular and their ears are large and pointed, which clearly shows the Devon Rex cross. They don’t have any whiskers or eyelashes which makes their bright and striking eyes stand out. This breed is fully grown between one and two years of age and then they weigh around 3.5 Kg-5 Kg.
Although they don’t have hair, Sphynx’s come in a variety of colours and patterns, from evenly coloured to striped. The wrinkles are mainly on their legs and neck, while the skin on their back is tight.
The Sphynx’s personality
Those in the know say that these cats seem to understand people’s feelings very well and this is why they are often used as therapy cats. When you are feeling sad, your cat will come and lie down next to you to try and comfort you.
These cats have a very gentle nature and always want to be as close to you as possible. They will lie on your lap or even perch on your shoulder while you walk around. Some people compare Sphynxes to dogs because they will sit at the door waiting for someone to come home.
They are generally very friendly towards strangers, and will soon recognise your regular visitors and welcome them with a greeting.
Furthermore, this breed is very intelligent and playful. You will have to make sure that your cat has enough toys and provide enough distractions so that they don’t get bored. The Sphynx is a very acrobatic cat and they will really enjoy a scratching post or other construction they can climb around on. They can keep themselves entertained if you provide enough things for them to do.
The right conditions for a Sphynx cat
This cat with no hair gets cold very quickly and it is best to keep them indoors. In winter it is too cold for them to be outside and in summer their skin can burn. If your cat does go outside in the sun you are advised to apply sunscreen. Their skin changes colour from exposure to sunlight just like people’s skin. Furthermore, their skin is quite tender and could, for example, easily get scratched by bushes.
Indoors, your cat will always look for a warm place to sleep. They also sleep more than other cats because they use a lot of their energy to maintain their body heat. Many Sphynx cats sleep in bed, under the covers, with their owners.
You don’t have to be concerned about bringing one of these cats into a home with other pets and children. Like most cats they don’t like being home alone for long which means that this breed is probably not a good choice if you are often away from home. Some breeders will only let a Sphynx kitten go to a home with several family members or another cat or dog.
Many people believe that this breed is suitable for people who are severely allergic to cats, but this might not always be the case. Sphynxes are viewed as hypoallergenic cats and people with allergies are likely to experience fewer symptoms because the cats shed less hair.
However, those with a severe cat allergy could still react to the dander and even cat urine. At this stage there is no scientific evidence that a Sphynx cat is more or less allergenic than other cats.
Common Diseases and Life Expectancy of Sphynx Cats
Sphynx cats are generally very healthy, but due to the lack of a protective coat they do tend to suffer from more skin conditions than other cats. This is especially true when the accumulation of sebum could lead to skin irritation.
Other skin diseases that are common in Sphynx Cats are Malassezia pachydermatitis and Urticaria Pigmentosa, which could cause crusty sores on their body. They can also develop skin cancer when exposed to too much direct sunlight. Finally, this breed is also very prone to fungal infections. While these infections are easy to treat, your cat will experience a lot of discomfort.
On average Sphynx cats live to 8-14 years of age. However, those that are well cared for often live much longer than those who are raised in a less than ideal environment.
Grooming your Sphynx cat
This breed’s skin tends to be a bit oily and this is why you should wash them regularly. All cats produce sebum which normally settles on their fur. In a cat with no hair the sebum remains on the skin. This is why you might find greasy stains where your cat has been lying on the sofa or on your trousers when they have rubbed up against your legs.
You can bathe your cat regularly with a special shampoo, but you could also just wash them occasionally with a wet cloth. You don’t have to use soap because this can dry out your cat’s skin. Lukewarm water is more than enough. After washing, you could also rub your cat’s skin with a special lotion or oil to keep it supple and hydrated.
When you adopt a Sphynx kitten it is a good idea to let them get used to water gradually. You do this by putting your cat in a bath and adding a little more water each week. Start off with just a small amount of water and then build it up until the water reaches to the top of its legs.
These cat’s large ears also need extra attention as the lack of hair causes earwax to build up. You can easily clean the inside of their ears with a damp cotton cloth.
You will have to determine how often you need to wash your cat. Some cats have more sebum than others and washing them too often is also not ideal. Only wash your cat when their skin appears greasy and when they are leaving stains around the house.
The right food for your Sphynx cat
Cats with a normal coat easily keep their body warm. Sphynxes, however, use a lot of energy to stay warm and they have to get this energy from their food. The best diet for them is one high in calories, proteins, and fats, otherwise they might burn more energy than they consume and eventually lose too much weight.
You should ideally feed them a few smaller portions throughout the day. This will prevent them from eating everything at once and then being hungry for the rest of the day.
At Yarrah we recommend feeding cats both wet and dry food. Wet food helps your cat to get enough fluids so that they always stay hydrated.
You can find nutritional advice on Yarrah’s product pages. Please note that for this breed you always have to select an active lifestyle because their energy needs are higher than that of other breeds.
You can also supplement your cat's diet with the organic mini snacks for cats or the organic chew sticks. Just like all other pet food from Yarrah, the cat treats are completely free from artificial fragrances, colours and flavours, pesticides and GMO. We also select the most absorbable proteins. So feel free to treat your cat!
Raising a Sphynx kitten
Raising a Sphynx kitten is similar to that of any other cat, but you always have to consider that they don’t have any fur. They could become seriously ill if they get too cold. Always make sure that there is a warm place in your home where they can lie down if they are feeling cold.
This breed is quite intelligent and will always want to please you and so it won’t be difficult to teach them what is and isn’t allowed. As with any other pets it is far better to reward good behaviour rather than punishing unwanted behaviour.
Buying a Sphynx kitten
Similar to other pedigree cats, this breed is fairly expensive and you can expect to pay between £800-£2,000 for a Sphynx kitten. For this price you can expect a healthy kitten that has been vaccinated, dewormed, chipped and checked by a veterinarian. Always ask for the cat’s pedigree and whether their parents have been tested for hereditary conditions.
At the breeder's home you should have a careful look at the conditions in which the kitten was raised. These kittens should not go to their new home until they are around 13 weeks old. This means that most of your cat’s early socialisation takes place in the breeder’s home. Make sure that the kitten has grown up in a clean environment and has also been introduced to people.
Because of the increased risk for various health problems it is particularly important for you to make sure that you buy your kitten from an ethical breeder who is focused on the well-being of their cats.