The Sphynx cat is an unusual-looking creature that's sure to turn heads. Despite his regal and aloof Egyptian name, the cat actually hails from Canada and has a friendly, outgoing and silly personality.
Sphynx Cat Origins
The Sphynx was developed as a breed in the 1960s by a breeder in Toronto, Canada. In fact, the breed's original name was the Canadian Hairless Cat. The cat's hairlessness is actually a naturally occurring genetic mutation that was used to create the foundation stock for the breed known today. The Sphynx cat has Siamese and Devon Rex cats in its bloodline which were added in to develop a hardier breed with few health problems.
Sphynx Cat Characteristics
The breed weighs between six and 12 pounds. Males are usually bigger than females. They have sleek, athletic bodies and are known for being excellent jumpers. Along with their hairless bodies, their most distinctive feature is their triangular head with big eyes which gives them an alien-like appearance.
Sphynx Cat Coat
Sphynx cats are not truly hairless and the degree to how hairless they are can vary from cat to cat. Some cats that appear completely hairless have a soft covering of fur all over their bodies that's hard to see unless you're up close and handling the cat. The soft covering has been compared to feeling like the fuzz on a peach. Some cats have more fur that can be found in spots around the body such as by their toes and ears. They can come in just about any color and pattern, and although they don't have fur, you can see the colors and patterns on their skin.
Sphynx Cat Coat Care and Grooming
Don't assume because a Sphynx cat is hairless that they're a low maintenance cat. They actually require a regular grooming regimen to keep them healthy. You will need to bathe them once a week to control the oily residue that develops on their skin. You'll also need to use a special shampoo that doesn't dry out their skin from all the frequent baths. Ear cleaning and nail trimming regularly are also important because they lack the fur that normally protects other cats in these areas.
Are Sphynx Cats Hypoallergenic?
Contrary to common belief, Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic. Although they do lack fur, they still produce the same amount of dander as other cats.
Sphynx Cat Body Temperature
Another feature of owning a Sphynx cat is the need to keep them warm. They have actually have a body temperature that is approximately four degrees warmer than other cat breeds. Obviously since they lack the fur of a "normal" cat, they have a harder time dealing with temperature extremes.
- If you live in a cold climate, having a sweater for your cat can help keep him warm, as well as making sure he has warm places to sleep, such as a heated cat bed.
- Likewise in the summer, they can get too hot and you need to make sure they have cool, quiet places to go in your house to keep their temperature down.
- Because of their hairless bodies and temperature issues, Sphynx cats should be kept as indoor-only cats.
Sphynx Cat Personality
Sphynx cats are incredibly affectionate cats who love to snuggle and has been called the friendliest cat breed. Part of this is due to their need to keep themselves warm but it's also because they truly adore human contact. These are highly intelligent cats that are known for being clownish and funny. You will never be bored or unamused owning a Sphynx cat. They also tend to enjoy everyone, from children to seniors, and the company of other cats and dogs. They are a very social breed and do not do well if left alone for hours, so having another animal companion for them can help alleviate loneliness and boredom.
Sphynx Cat Behavioral Needs
Aside from having a companion and regular attention, Sphynx cats are very curious cats and combined with their jumping abilities, they can get into quite a bit of trouble in your home. It's important to provide them with a variety of enrichment activities, such as cat trees, scratching posts and interactive toys to keep their minds busy. Clicker training them is also a great way to engage their minds and these cats are perfect candidates for therapy work. Whatever you do, realize these cats will be a real "presence" in your home and are not likely to be sedate lap cats.
Sphynx Cat Health Concerns
The average lifespan of a Sphynx cat is 8 to 14 years. Sphynx cats tend to be very healthy, although there are a few health issues to be aware of:
- Sunburn can be an issue for these cats due to their lack of fur, and this can increase their risk for melanoma. It's strongly recommended to keep these cats indoors 24/7.
- Heart disease is very prevalent in the breed, particularly hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and hereditary myopathy which are both issues with the muscles in the heart.
- These cats can suffer from more skin conditions than other cats. Urticaria pigmentosa and alopecia areata are common ones which lead to irritated, itchy skin.
Sphynx Cats Diet
Although Sphynx cats do not have specific dietary needs compared to other cats, they do need to eat more. They have a higher metabolism than other breeds and therefore you will need to provide them with more food daily than you may be used to with other cat breeds.
Where Can You Get a Sphynx Cat?
If you're looking to purchase a purebred Sphynx kitten, keep in mind that this is a rarer breed so you may have to get on some breeder's waiting lists to get a kitten. You can expect to pay around $1,500 to $3,000 for a kitten, though some show quality kittens may go for even more. You can find Sphynx breeders through the Cat Fancier's Association's website and the International Cat Association's website.
Rescuing a Sphynx Cat
Sphynx cats will be harder to find in rescue but that doesn't mean you can't find one. A good place to start is contacting breeders, as they may have adults available for adoption. You can search for Sphynx cats using the Petfinder and Adopt a Pet websites. They can also be found at rescues that deal with purebred cats of several breeds.
Is a Sphynx Cat the Right Cat For You?
If you want a loving and snuggly companion, you can't go wrong with a Sphynx cat. However they definitely require some work on your part, including regular baths and grooming to keep them healthy. You'll also need to make sure there's enough for your cat to do during the day to keep them mentally happy, which may include a feline, canine or small pet companion.