Sphynx


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Introduction

The Sphynx is an exotic looking medium size hairless cat and one that catches people’s attention as soon as they set eyes on them. They are quite unique with their wrinkled appearance and although they look delicate, they are in fact deceivingly heavy for their small size. Over the years, the Sphynx has found a large fan base the world over thanks to their extraordinary looks and the fact they boast such loving and loyal natures.


History

The Sphynx cat was first developed in Canada during the mid-sixties and it happened quite by accident to begin with when a domestic shorthair cat had a litter of kittens one of which was born hairless. The kitten was a male named Prune. When he was old enough, Prune was bred back to his mother and the result of this crossing was a litter of both hairless and normal coated kittens. A few of the hairless kittens were exported to Europe where breeders continued to develop these extraordinary cats. It was not until 1988 that the first female Sphynx cat was introduced to the UK having been bred in Holland and she was named Tulip. She was exhibited at several GCCF cat shows and was an immediate success with both breeders, judges and cat lovers alike.

The breed was awarded full Championship recognition from the GCCF and today has gained a big fan base not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the world thanks to their unique looks and they adorable, loving natures which makes sharing a home with a Sphynx such a pleasure.


Appearance

One of the most striking physical traits of the Sphynx is their lack of coat although in reality, their bodies are covered in really soft down-like hair. Their skin has a very unique feel to it too which is often likened to that of chamois leather. They also have a little fine hair over the bridge of their noses as well as on their feet. Their tails and the back of a cat's ears also have a little amount of hair on them.

The amount of hair or down that covers a Sphynx's body depends on several things which includes their hereditary predispositions as well as climate and hormones. However, although their skin feels that much warmer to the touch than other breeds, they don't boast having a higher body temperature. Males tend to be noticeably larger than their female counterparts and kittens are born extremely wrinkly, but their folds start to vanish as they mature although a few wrinkles do remain more especially on a cat's head.

They have modified wedge-shaped heads with lovely rounded contours, very prominent cheekbones and well defined whisker pads. Muzzles are strong and rounded with cats having slightly domed heads, but with a flat plane just in front of their ears. They have straight noses with just a slight to moderate break at the bridge. Chins are strong with cats having level bites and their nose leathers and chins are in a straight line.

A Sphynx has very large ears that are nicely wide open at the base before they taper to a lovely rounded tip. Ears are set a little at an angle to cat's head so the outer base is level with the outer corner of their eyes. Their eyes are lemon shaped and large, being slightly slanted upwards to the outer edges of a cat's ear and nicely set wide apart which adds to the breed’s exotic appearance.

They have moderately long, muscular, firm bodies with nice broad chests and abdomens. Their rumps are also muscular and nicely rounded. Necks are moderately long and very well-muscled with males being heavier than their female counterparts. Their legs are moderately long, but nicely in proportion with the rest of their bodies and well-muscled. Their back legs are a little longer than their front ones. Paws are oval shaped with a cat's toes being long and slender. Paw pads are thick and firm resembling cushions. Their tails are long and slim, but nicely in proportion with the rest of a cat's body being heavier at the base before tapering to the tip.

The Sphynx has fine down that covers the entire body which can hardly be seen and which gives their skin a lovely warm feel. The hair on their noses can be slightly thicker on the bridge of cat's nose, on the back of their ears and on their feet, scrotum and on their tails, only to a slightly lesser extent. They can have a certain amount of wrinkling on their muzzles, between their ears and on their shoulders. The Sphynx has very sparse eyebrows and whiskers which are short in length. They can be just about any colour which is acceptable under the GCCF breed standard.


Temperament

Like a lot of other breeds, the Sphynx likes a routine and doesn't particularly like it when this changes for any reason. They like to be fed at the same time of the day and don't appreciate it when furniture gets moved around the home which can stress them out. They are known to be one of the most affectionate cats on the planet which when paired to their intelligence makes the Sphynx a joy to share a home with. However, because they form such strong bonds with their owners, the Sphynx does not like to be apart from them for any length of time. As such they are best suited to households where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they are never left alone for too long.

They are also known to be extremely vocal and will hold long conversations with an owner whenever they can. They love to snuggle up at any time of the day, when they are not playing a game of fetch, that is. They are also known to be tolerant and loving around children which makes them a good choice as family pets as long as the kids know how to behave around cats. Sphynx cats are often described as being very "child-like" in their natures thanks to the fact that they love being involved in everything that goes on in their environment. They are inquisitive and like following their owners from room to room not only to be with them, but also to check out what they are doing.

The Sphynx although quite demanding, are easy going when it comes to living with other pets and this includes cats and dogs. They are gregarious by nature and do not like living as an only pet much preferring to either be with others of their own kind or other pets. Because they feel the cold and are at greater risk of being sunburnt, the Sphynx is best kept as an indoor pet and only allowed outside when it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that they adapt extremely well to living as indoor pets more especially if they always have their owner's company or that of other pets.


Intelligence

The Sphynx is an extremely intelligent cat and one that learns new things quickly. They adore being around people and other pets whether it’s cats or dogs and will play interactive games like fetch with passion. Because they are so smart, the Sphynx needs to be kept busy when they are not cat napping, that is. This means investing in lots of good quality toys for them to play with. They also like scratching posts and high platforms where they can look down on the world below from favourite vantage points.


Children and Other Pets

Sphynx cats with their outgoing, affectionate personalities are a good choice for families with older children. However, care should be taken when very young children are around cats and any interaction should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. With this said, younger children need to be taught how to behave around cats and when it's time to leave them alone.

They also get on well with dogs especially if they have grown up together in the same household and being gregarious by nature, the Sphynx enjoys the company of other cats. However, care should be taken when introducing a Sphynx to dogs they don't already know just in case the dog does not get on with their feline counterparts. Sphynx cats being social by nature have been known to get on with pet birds and small animals, but it's always wiser to keep a close eye on any cat when they are around smaller pets particularly when they first meet each other, just to be on the safe side.


Health

The average life expectancy of a Sphynx is between 13 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Sphynx is known to be a healthy breed, but there is one condition that seems to affect them the most which is worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these extraordinary hairless cats. The condition that seems to affect the breed the most is as follows:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) - breeders should have stud cats tested

Caring for a Sphynx

As with any other breed, Sphynx cats need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. On top of this, cats need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives which is especially true of kittens and older cats.


Grooming

Because the Sphynx does not have any hair, they are low maintenance on the grooming front. However, this does not mean they don't anything in the way of skin care because particular attention should be paid to the folds and wrinkles found on their heads and bodies making sure there is no excess of grease building up which could lead to sores and infections. The lack of coat means that body oils don’t get absorbed by a cat's fur and as such, they need to be gently washed off on a regular basis. The good news is that Sphynx cats seem to like warm baths and thrive on the attention they are given as they are being washed.

It's also important to check a cat's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Cats often suffer from ear mites which can be a real problem which is why it's so important to check their ears on a regular basis.


Energy Levels/Playfulness

The Sphynx boasts being an energetic, fun-loving cat and one that adores playing interactive games which includes things like "fetch". They like to be kept busy and amused when they are not cat napping and they thrive on human company which means they hate being left on their own even for shorter periods of time. They are incredibly social by nature and enjoy playing games with other cats more especially if they happen to be others of their own kind.

Cats kept as indoor pets need to be given lots of things to do and places to hide when they want to, bearing in mind that Sphynx cats love to climb up high so they can look down from a high vantage point on what’s happening below. They also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze when the mood takes them because if there is one thing that Sphynx cats adore it’s taking a few naps throughout the day.


Feeding

If you get a Sphynx kitten from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same kitten food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a kitten's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older cats are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature cat several times a day making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements which is especially important as cats get older. It's also essential to keep an eye on a cat's weight because if they start to put on too much, it can have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Like all other breeds, the Sphynx needs access to fresh, clean water at all times.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Sphynx

If you are looking to buy a Sphynx, you would need to pay anything from £250 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree kitten. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Sphynx in northern England would be £15.92 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £25.29 a month (quote as of October 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a cat's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a cat’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Sphynx and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a cat when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Sphynx would be between £40 to £60 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your cat, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred kitten.


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