You’d be forgiven for believing the cat breeds with sparse fur are probably from countries with temperate climates. But that is not the case with the Sphynx, which is the only breed to have originated in Canada. A very rare breed born out of a natural mutation, the Sphynx is a recent cat variety. It is the first hairless cat breed. It is a medium-sized cat with a light layer of down all over its body. Its skin texture is similar to that of chamois. Its lack of hair makes the Sphynx feel the cold easily. As such, its skin temperature is 4 degrees higher than other breeds to compensate. Also, this cat loves to rub itself against humans or other animals to keep warm.
A strong cat, the Sphynx is an inquisitive breed that likes to be the centre of attention. Because of its lack of hair, it needs to be regularly washed to prevent a build-up of skin oils. Although its appearance and needs are not for everyone, the Sphynx prefers to be with human company. It also can live harmoniously with dogs and other cats. Although it does not have significant health problems, its high metabolism requires feeding the Sphynx more food than the average cat. Because of its sensitive skin, the Sphynx should be kept indoors and not exposed to too much cold or heat.
The Sphynx, contrary to its name, does not come from Egypt. It is an accidental breed born of natural mutation in the land of ice and snow, Canada. In 1966, a domestic shorthair feline in Ontario gave birth to a litter that had one hairless kitten. The kitten, a male, was later named Prune. Later, he was bred with his mother. This match produced a litter that had normal and hairless kittens. Some of the hairless ones where sent to Europe, where the breed was further developed.
Later in 1975, two sets of hairless kittens from different owners were born. A pair was from Minnesota, USA, named Dermis and Epidermis. The other set, a trio of kittens, were from Toronto in Ontario, Canada. These cats are considered to be the descendants of the modern Sphynx. The breed was finally introduced in the UK in 1988, through a Sphynx called Tulip. She immediately became a hit amongst cat lovers, breeders, and cat competition enthusiasts in the UK. The Sphynx has since undergone much selective breeding in order to expand its gene pool and develop a robust breed. It later received full championship recognition. Today, it is one of the most beloved and popular cat breeds in the world.
Appearance and Grooming
Although the Sphynx’s appearance, which is similar to the Egyptian mythical creature, is not for everyone, it is definitely unique. Its unusual appearance and lack of hair may make it look fragile, but the Sphynx is a strong and healthy cat. Contrary to its looks, the muscular Sphynx is not totally hairless. This medium-sized feline has a light layer of fur that gives its skin a chamois-like feel. Due to the lack of hair, this cat’s skin temperature is higher than other breeds (about 4 degrees warmer). It has large, wide ears on a wedge-shaped head, and large, slightly slanted eyes. Its paws are oval with thick pads underneath. It has a whip-like tail that tapers from the base to the tip. Sphynx kittens usually have a more wrinkled appearance, which smooths out as they develop into adults. Its weight ranges from 6 to 11 pounds.
The Sphynx comes in various colours, which are dictated by the pigment of its skin. The patterns can also vary, just as with longer-haired felines. Whilst its hairless appearance make the Sphynx seem a hypoallergenic cat, its light down prevents it from being so. Those with allergies will need to wash this cat regularly to remove dander and oil build-up. The lack of fur leads to the skin oil build-up, hence the need for a weekly bath and ear cleaning.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Sphynx is a very social and friendly cat. It likes to rub its body against humans and other animals, also in part to help keep itself warm. Intelligent, it likes to be around humans, and is great company for other cats and dogs. It likes to be the centre of attention, and will follow its human around the house. It likes to be involved in the affairs of the home. The Sphynx is playful and affectionate, which partly explains its popularity amongst pet owners today.
A vocal cat, this high-energy breed likes to play fetch and explore its surroundings. The extroverted Sphynx is rather dog-like in its personality.
Nutrition and Feeding
The Sphynx has a high metabolism and thus eats more than the usual cat. This is because its body has to work harder in keeping itself warm. As such, this breed needs to be fed more frequently and in small portions. The Sphynx needs L-carnitine, sodium phosphates, and antioxidants like vitamins E and C in its diet. It also benefits from a high-protein diet. As such, this cat needs to be fed animal protein. To help protect its gum, healthy dry food should also be fed.
Health and Exercise
The average lifespan of the Sphynx is 13–15 years. Whilst this is a generally healthy breed, she is prone to the skin problems particularly rashes and fungal infections. There are also few other health issues the Sphynx is susceptible to:
- Respiratory infections (during first 10 weeks)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- Mitral valve dysplasia
Because the Sphynx lacks the protection of a coat, she must not be exposed to extremely hot or cold weather. As a hairless cat that can easily get sunburned, she must not be left outdoors for a long period, even when wearing sunblock. This feline is best kept indoors.
The Sphynx is known to have a high drive for action. She is a vertical cat that loves to be as high up as possible and observe things from above.
The Sphynx loves exploring cupboards and wardrobes. This feline is also intelligent that she finds teaser and puzzle toys particularly interesting.
Unlike other cat breeds, the Sphynx is not likely to gain weight easily, thanks to her fast metabolism. She tends to eat more than the average cat and play more as well.
To help her expend her energy, instal cat towers with dangling toys and multiple condos. These things will not only keep the Sphynx physically fit but will also keep her from climbing curtain rails.
Cost of Ownership
For a well-bred Sphynx, expect to shell out £500–£2,000 for a kitten. Insurance costs will £15.5 (basic) to £26 (lifetime) a month. With its food, prepare to spend about £15–£20 monthly. For vaccinations, boosters, annual checks, and other veterinary costs, pet care costs may add up to more than £600 a year.
On average, a Sphynx owner will spend about £40–£60 per month. The insurance costs can also influence the said expenses. For its lifetime (13-15 years, the costs be as low as £6,240 to as high as £10,800 annually. This range does not include the expenses incurred in buying a Sphynx kitten.
Are you sure the Sphynx is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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