Tell us what features and improvements you would like to see on Pets4Homes. Help us by answering a short survey.To the Survey
Sphynx cats are a bit like marmite – people tend to either love them or hate them. To many people, one of the most attractive things about a cat is that it is furry and cuddly. Some of these people find the naked appearance of the Sphynx cat to be quite unnatural and un-catlike. But others are very attracted to this unusual looking breed. Still others think that a Sphynx cat should be easy to take care of, with no grooming required, and perhaps would be suitable for someone with an allergy to cat fur. But are these things true? What is the Sphynx really like? Here are some facts about this unusual breed.
At first glance you might think that a Sphynx is completely bald, but this is not the case. In fact, they are covered with a fine layer of downy hair, and if you touch them it is similar to stroking a suede jacket. They are warm to the touch, and they have sometimes been described as suede-covered hot water bottles!
The Sphynx is not the first hairless cat, or even the first attempt to turn one into a breed. But it was the first breed like this to achieve recognition and popularity. In fact, hairless cats have appeared on odd occasions throughout history, but they have usually died out, as it would be hard for them to survive in the wild or even as outdoor cats. But there are also other hairless breeds around these days...see below.
Some people acquire a Sphynx cat hoping that it will not set off cat allergies, since there is no fur to do this. This does appear to work for some people, but please don't get a Sphynx for this reason without checking first. Sphynx cats still produce the substance in their saliva and skin that most people are allergic to, so they really cannot be described as hypoallergenic. Nevertheless, they will not deposit hair all over the house as other breeds do, so may work for folk who are only slightly allergic to cats.
Oils that would normally disperse along the hair shafts in furry cats accumulate on the skin in hairless breeds. So Sphynx cats really must be bathed regularly. The oils also tend to settle in the numerous wrinkles that the Sphynx has. Grooming is really a bit difficult for these cats, so they do need your help!
Don't get a Sphynx cat thinking that it will be low maintenance since it does not have fur. In fact, these cats need quite a lot of special care. Injury is more likely with no cushioning coat, they feel the cold a lot in winter, and need to be protected from the sun in summer. Many Sphynx owners make small coats or jumpers for their cats for cold weather, and use sunblock on them in hot weather. But they really need to be indoor-only cats if they are to be kept safe. Their ears tend to need regular cleaning, as they have no hairs to stop the accumulation of debris. So they are not cats you can just leave to take care of themselves.
Despite having not fur, the skin of Sphynx cats is patterned and coloured. So you can find tabbies, torties, black and white cats, and so on.
Every Sphynx owner comments on how friendly and affectionate these cats are. They are sociable and loving, and one study even named them as the Most Affectionate Cat Breed. This may be partly because their lack of hair means that they like to rub against their owners in order to keep warm. But whatever the reason, they are often said to be the dogs of the cat world.
Sphynx cats actually have a body temperature which is four degrees warmer than other cats. This is thought to be so that they can keep warm without a fur coat.
The high body temperature and lack of a furry insulating coat means that a Sphynx burns more calories than you would expect for a cat of its size. For these reasons the Sphynx needs about twice as much food as an average cat, or as feeding guidelines predict. These cats seem to always be hungry, and they love their food. So make sure you feed your Sphynx enough; it really does need to eat a lot.
As stated above, the Sphynx is not the only hairless breed. There are two other fairly well established breeds of this type in Russia – the Donskoy and the Peterbald. These both have their lack of hair originating in the same mutation, and it is a different gene from that for the Sphynx hairlessness. The Sphynx actually arose in Canada in the 1960s, and the two Russian breeds did not come along until about twenty years later. Nevertheless it felt to many people as though after being a rare oddity for centuries, suddenly three similar breeds same along at the same time.
You may now realise that the Sphynx cat is somewhat different from what you first imagined. In fact, you may even have gone from not liking the idea of a hairless cat very much, to realising that the Sphynx is in fact fascinating and somewhat endearing. There are an increasing number of people who feel this way, and the Sphynx is in fact growing in popularity. If this is the case for you, Sphynx kittens are now fairly easy to find, with quite a number of breeders. So getting your first Sphynx kitten should not be too difficult.
Do you like this article? Have something to say? Then leave your comments.