The Accidental Breed

The Sphynx, a hairless, wrinkled wonder with big ears and eyes and pronounced cheekbones is one of the newer cat breeds. Though rare, it has recently become one of the most in-demand cats in the U.S.

Sphynx cat

The first Sphynx was born in Canada in 1966, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The lack of hair, a genetic anomaly, was a result of Mother Nature and occurs about once every 15 years.

Since this time, the Sphynx has been bred with traditional shorthair cats, and then bred back to hairless to create a genetically sound, healthy breed. The breed’s unique look has caught the eye of many cat lovers.

The Sphynx is definitely a “people cat.” They are energetic, silly and playful, and love to be the center of attention. You’ll find that your Sphynx is always with you, or always trying to find a way to steal your attention from whatever else might be occupying your time. This “look at me” attitude makes them well-suited for show, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

The Sphynx also gets along well with other cats and dogs.

Sphynx cat

While the Sphynx is called “hairless,” many Sphynx cats have “peach fuzz” hair up and down their bodies. These cats are medium-sized and have a full, round tummy. Though you might think the Sphynx looks somewhat meek because of his lack of hair, he is actually very muscular, according to the Traditional Cat Breed Association.

Despite the fact that they are hairless, Sphynx cats can look quite different from one another. Their variation in pattern actually appears on their skin and what little hair they do have.

A lack of hair doesn’t mean your Sphynx is cold. When you pet a Sphynx, you’ll feel that his skin is warm to the touch. These animals are quite comfortable at room temperature. When they do get cold, they are smart enough to cuddle with a human or climb up and share a blanket with you.

Sphynx cat

The Sphynx is not an outdoor cat, warns the Traditional Cat Breed Association. Because their skin is exposed, Sphynx cats need to be protected from the elements. That doesn’t mean they can’t go outside; just that they should not live outdoors.

You might think that because there is no coat to maintain, the Sphynx’s grooming needs are minimal. The opposite is actually true. The body of a Sphynx secretes oil, so they need frequent bathing. Their ears also require frequent cleaning.

More proof that the Sphynx is not low-maintenance: He has an extremely high metabolism. Therefore, he will consume more food than the average cat.

Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian for VPI Pet Insurance who specializes in feline veterinary care, advises Sphynx cat owners to take preventive measures when it comes to skin care.

"Sphynx cats have a predisposition to get sunburned due to a lack of pigmentation and fur." Gross treated a Sphynx cat who fell asleep in the window and ended up sunburned on one side of her body.

"Install sunblock shades or screens on windows to lessen the impact of the sun's rays," says Gross. "You can also apply baby sunscreen to your Sphynx's ear tips and bridge of nose to help protect her skin."

Just because the Sphynx is hairless does not mean he is safe for all pet owners who suffer from pet dander allergies. If you are allergic to dander, the Sphynx can still aggravate your allergy since the dander of the Sphynx tends to remain on the skin.

The intriguing look of the Sphynx has drawn the attention of many cat lovers. Though he does have special care needs because of his lack of coat, he is a healthy cat that will provide companionship and endless entertainment for his owner.

  • The most famous early hairless cats are two from New Mexico known as the “Hairless Mexican.”
  • At one time, the Sphynx was known as “The Canadian Hairless.”
  • Sphynx cats are rare, and most breeders have a waiting list for their kittens.
  • The Sphynx was first accepted for registration by the CFA in 2002.
If you're interested in learning more about exotic cats, you may enjoy reading about Bengal cats, Oriental cats and Siamese cats.