In 1966 a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless kitten in Toronto, Canada. This hairlessness was discovered to be a natural mutation and the Sphynx cat, as we know it today, came into existence.
Cat breeders in Europe and North America have bred Sphynx to normal coated cats and to Devon Rex cats, and then back to hairless for more than thirty years. The purpose of these selective breedings was to create a genetically sound cat with a large gene pool and hybrid vigor. The Sphynx is a very robust breed with few health or genetic problems.
Sphynx are extremely inquisitive and we love to be the centre of attention. We like to perform silly antics for your entertainment. We make great show cats because of this ''look at me" attitude and we are easy for judges to handle. Sphynx prefer human attention but enjoy the company of dogs and other cats. We have an abundance of energy and mischief and are always with you, on you or showing off for you. "Love Mooch" is one term that people use to describe Sphynx.
Sphynx are very people-orientated and affectionate. We are highly intelligent, playful, cuddly, often described as being "part dog, part child, part monkey, and part cat!" Many Sphynx are easily leash trained (I like going out on my harness) and many Sphynx love to ride in the car and to go on vacation (I enjoyed my trip to Switzerland with my humans).
Barrel-chested and muscular, the Sphynx has a medium-long body. Oversize ears give us a batlike appearance, while large, round eyes give the face a startled expression. Sphynx have tails that are tapered and whiplike. The Sphynx's wrinkled, chamois-soft skin is covered with nearly imperceptible down; short, soft, densely packed hair is sometimes found on the ears, muzzle, feet, tail, and scrotum. Whiskers and eyebrows may be broken or absent. All colours and patterns are possible (included pointed colours), due to the extensive out-cross breedings with short-haired breeds.
Some people with allergies can tolerate living with a Sphynx. My dad is allergic to cats, but can tolerate Sphynx - I don't cause his allergies to react at all, even when I rub my face all over his, or sleep on his pillow. However, some people with cat allergies cannot tolerate Sphynx. If you are allergic to cats and are curious about Sphynx, you should contact a reputable breeder who will let you spend some time with some Sphynx, to discover whether or not Sphynx trigger your allergies.
Sphynx need regular baths because we don't have any hair to absorb the natural oils that our skin secretes. We do bathe ourselves, just like other cats, but our tongues cannot keep up with the oil that our skin secretes. The frequency of bathing will depend on the individual Sphynx: some of us secrete more oil than others. The general recommendation is to start with a weekly bath, and then adjust, depending on how much oil builds up on the skin.
Sphynx also need to have their claws, claw sheathes, and paws cleaned. An oily, black substance will accumulate at the base of the claws and in the claw sheathes. This "black gunk" is a combination of the natural oils produced in the skin, dirt caught between the toes when walking around, litter dust, etc.
People often ask if Sphynx get cold. Basically, if a person is cold in a given situation, then in all likelihood, a Sphynx will be cold too. If the humans in a house are comfortable, then Sphynx are usually comfortable. If the humans are bundled up in a sweater or under a blanket to keep warm, we Sphynx would probably appreciate the same treatment. If we do get a chill, Sphynx will seek out a place to get warm such as in a warm human lap, on top of the TV or computer monitor, under the covers on a bed, in a sunbeam, or in a covered pet bed.
Do you have any questions about Sphynx or about me? Leave your question in the comments, and I will answer your questions next week.
- Cat Fanciers' Association: Breed Profile
- Canadian Cat Association: Sphynx
- ASPCA Breed Guide: Sphynx
- Bemisu Cattery: FAQs
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