The Sphynx cat is a breed that is by no means a common sight out and about in the UK like most cats are – because this is breed that is almost always kept indoors only, without unsupervised access to the outside world.
This means that even many cat lovers will never have seen one in the flesh, or even heard of their existence, and if this is the case than your first sighting of a sphynx cat can be a huge surprise for one key reason – cats of the breed don’t have fur!
This is a really polarising trait that some people find almost repellent in terms of the appearance and texture that it causes, although a lot of this is often down to surprise that soon wears off and turns to curiosity. On the flipside, sphynx cats also have a large following of owners and breed fans that love them, and every year, many newcomers set their hearts on owning a sphynx cat of their own.
If you’re considering buying a sphynx cat or want to find out more about what they’re like as pets, you need to do lots of research, as there are a huge number of implications of the breed’s hairlessness, and like all breeds, many other unique traits possessed by such cats too.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the sphynx cat to get your own research started before you buy one. Read on to learn more.
The lack of hair possessed by the sphynx cat is not a trait found naturally in large populations of the cat species, and is in fact caused by a genetic mutation. This genetic mutation is a recessive trait to that of the naturally occurring common and dominant gene for fur found in domestic cats as a species.
Whilst the genetic mutation that caused the first hairless cats that founded the breed occurred naturally, the sphynx breed and its large population of hairless cats would not exist today were it not for humans.
As mentioned, the hairless gene mutation is recessive, which means that in the wild it would be bred out of the gene pool within a generation from individual cats that possessed it, unless two such cats reproduced with each other – and the chances of this happening are very low.
Additionally, hairless cats would not thrive in the wild, and few would be likely to make it to breeding age and breed and deliver and raise young successfully.
Ergo the sphynx cat is a created breed, that exists due to selective breeding on the part of humans to replicate the hairlessness trait.
Whilst all sphynx cats have no useful or effective body hair, not all of them are entirely free of fur or hair altogether. Some cats of the breed have no hair of any type, including no whiskers, whilst others may have normal or overly shortened whiskers, and/or very fine langue-like hair on the body.
The lack of fur inherent to the breed makes sphynx cats highly vulnerable to sunburn, which is of course very painful, and can also result in the development of skin cancer too.
Great care must be taken to protect cats of the breed from the sun, which includes taking care to ensure that they don’t burn from sunbathing in the window when indoors.
The breed’s lack of fur also means that they can’t regulate their own body temperatures effectively, and will feel the cold very much. They will also find it harder to keep cool in summer, as fur helps to deflect heat as well as retain it.
Within the home they need a highly stable, consistent temperature to be provided, and may also need to wear specially made jumpers in very cool weather too!
The breed’s vulnerability to sunburn in the summer and inability to effectively regulate their temperatures to stay warm enough in cooler weather means that they are almost always kept as indoor-only cats.
Providing unsupervised access to the outdoors is virtually impossible to achieve for the breed safely, and great care should be taken to protect the cat if they are taken out under supervision.
Sphynx cats are one of the more costly cat breeds to buy, with the average asking price according to Pets4Homes for pedigrees being around £895 each, and even for non-pedigrees, £599 each. This is several hundred pounds higher than the broad averages for most cat breeds, and represents a significant investment.
You might think that no fur means no grooming, but the sphynx is actually very high maintenance in that respect. The naturally produced skin oils all cats have can clog the sphynx’s skin due to their lack of fur, and they also tend to suffer more than most from earwax build up too.
This means that sphynx cats need to be bathed regularly – usually once a week – and neglecting this will affect their wellness, comfort and condition. However, unlike cats with fur, most cats of the breed actively enjoy this!
As well as their special care requirements, the sphynx breed as a whole also has a number of health challenges that can affect the health and longevity of individual cats of the breed.
Heart disease is the most common problem within the breed with a high incidence rate, and kittens of the breed are particularly prone to developing respiratory infections when young too.
As outlined above, the sphynx cat breed really is incomparable to other breeds in terms of the type of care and challenges inherent to it, and their care requirements are unusual and can be challenging.
Plenty of research and consideration is required before committing to buying a cat of the breed, and if your home is set up in such a way that means its insulation and heating provision don’t enable you to keep a constant and comfortable temperature for the cat year-round, you will probably need to rule the breed out.