"The Delightful Peterbald – An Extraordinary Hairless Cat
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"The Delightful Peterbald – An Extraordinary Hairless Cat

You may have already seen photos of the charming hairless sphynx cat but have you ever heard of a breed called a “Peterbald”? This delightful bald moggy is native to Russia and over there, the breed is as highly prized as any Fabergé Egg! Although most cats are totally bald, others do boast a gorgeous velour type coat and some even have short bushy fur that looks and feels more like down than fur.

The breed is a relative newcomer to the scene having only been introduced to the cat world in 1993. Peterbalds came about by crossing the Donskoy with the Oriental Shorthair – the result was this eye catching creature that wins over hearts every time. However, they are not the easiest cats to look after and do need some special care. This involves keeping them nice and warm in the winter and well protected during the hotter summer months.

Looking after a hairless cat might sound like an easy task but in truth, these lovely creatures need a lot more care so their skin stays in good condition all year round and does not get frazzled by the sun in the summertime.

Charming Characters with Beguiling Looks

There's absolutely no doubt at all that these little hairless felines with their bat-wing ears and appealing eyes, can steal the show. They are particularly loving characters and they like to let owners know about it when they are happy, purring loudly and very eloquently as a way to demonstrate their feelings.

Peterbalds are known to be highly intelligent and they're extremely agile too. Offering a loving home to one of these beguiling cats means spending a lot of time entertaining them whilst they keep you entertained - which is pretty a fair exchange in anyone's books!

All cats tend to be rather inquisitive, but Peterbalds take this curiosity to the next level and will investigate just about everything you bring back into the home. They are particularly fond of lots of home-made toys which they are always happy to play with. Peterbalds are sociable creatures that become totally dedicated and loyal to their owners.

Health Issues to Consider

Apart from not having any fur and therefore feeling the cold during the winter months and having to be covered in sunblock from head to tail in the summertime, Peterbalds are also thought to be prone to several illnesses which cats in their lineage often suffer from. You need to be aware of these health issues and therefore ready to deal with the conditions if you are thinking of offering a Peterbald a loving, caring home.

One thing all hairless cats need is to be regularly bathed in order to remove a build up of grease and dirt on their skin. If they are not bathed, their skin starts to look grimy and could become irritated, this could result in painful sores. Peterbalds need to have their ears and nails regularly cleaned as well in order to prevent any dirt building up in them which could lead to other health issues that are best avoided.

It goes without saying that Peterbalds are “indoor” cats so anyone wanting to keep one as a pet would have to be prepared to set up their home so there's plenty of space for their new pet to move around in. On top of this these playful creatures would need lots of cat safe toys to play with so boredom doesn't set in. If these active felines do get bored, it can lead to all sort of unwanted behavioural problems. Because the breed are “indoor” cats, you have to make sure there are no plants in your home which are known to be poisonous to cats.

Although the breed is pretty resilient, they are prone to suffer from gum diseases and tooth decay This means taking them to the vet for regular dental check-ups. This is especially important as Peterbalds get older. A well balanced and carefully thought out diet is also essential so their teeth stay nice and healthy.

Because the breed is relatively new to the cat world, there has not been any breed specific health problems recorded to date. But with this said, it is thought the breed may suffer from some of the diseases and illnesses the cats in their lineage suffer from. This includes liver amyloidosis and dilated cardiomyopathy. The Oriental Shorthair as well as the Don Sphynx and Siamese are prone to both of these illnesses so it is worth keeping an eye out for any symptoms should you wish to offer a home to a Peterbald.

Liver Amyloidosis Explained

This is a nasty disease that affects the cat's liver with Oriental shorthairs, Siamese, Burmese and Abyssinians being prone to suffer from. A waxy substance called amyloid is deposited in the liver causing tissue degeneration. This is a genetic disease which does affect multiple organs in the body other than the liver and in particular the kidneys.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Sudden lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite)
  • Excess thirst and excess urination
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Enlarged & swollen abdomen
  • Abdominal fluid ‒ blood or clear fluid
  • Yellow hue to skin and/or whites of eyes
  • Swollen limbs
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal discomfort & head pain

What Causes the Condition?

  • Genetic
  • Chronic infection
  • Bacterial endocarditis - inflammation of the inner layer of the heart
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Tumour

Sadly there is no known cure for the condition. However, supportive care is extremely valuable. Diet changes are sometimes seen to help with each cat having a specific diet worked out for them so it suits their organ functions or disfunctions.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy Explained

This is a heart muscle disease which is thought some cats are predisposed to get. The heart is made up of four chambers, two on the top and two on the bottom. DCM or Dilated cardiomyopathy affects the ventricular muscle and this is characterised by either enlarged or dilated heart chambers. The condition then reduces the heart's ability to contract and therefore pump blood out of the ventricles.

The heart becomes overloaded and this then leads to heart failure. However, since 1987 vets and researchers have come to understand a little more just what causes DCM in cats. It is now thought the condition is diet related with a deficiency of an amino acid called taurine being the root cause of the problem. With this said, DCM is today a relatively rare disease due to the fact more cat food manufacturers add taurine supplements to cat food.

Since the condition can be an inherited genetic problem with breeds like the Burmese, Siamese and Abyssinian being particularly prone to suffering from it when they get older, it is presumed that Peterbalds too, may be predisposed to it. Some of the breeds mentioned above can suffer from the condition when they are a mere two years old, but in general it's around ten when DCM rears its ugly head.

A carefully planned diet that includes taurine has been seen to be useful when managing the condition. But if the symptoms are severe then veterinary care is the only route to take with affected cats usually needing to be hospitalised in order to receive the correct treatment.

Conclusion

Offering a loving home to a hairless Peterbald means thinking about all of the above. Although when it comes to hereditary illnesses, this is still very much a grey area simply because the breed is so new to the cat world. Only time will really tell whether or not these conditions have been passed down to them genetically. If you, like many people, have fallen in love with a beguiling, bat-eared Peterbald, and feel you can give them all the attention and care they need, you'll be rewarded with a lovely character that will keep you amused for a very long time – these delightfully svelt creatures can live for anything from 12 to 15 years!

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