The Sphynx Cat probably holds the title as being the most unusual-looking in the feline world. Forget everything you know about cats- the Sphinx is hairless, smooth-skinned and pot-bellied, which is the complete opposite view of a furry, cuddly cat. But make no mistake, for Sphynxes will make you fall under their spell with their unique charm and funny antics.
Rachel (of Friends fame) has Mrs. Whiskerson. Austin Powers has Mr. Bigglesworth. Sphynx cats deserve a second look. They’re sweethearts on the inside! Though Sphynxes have an unusual feline body shape, they’re physically and emotionally warm and can make you laugh in record time.
At the onset, the Sphynx looks hairless. Even their eyebrows and whiskers can range from very sparse to being non-existent. But upon closer inspection you’ll find a very fine, downy coat covering their skin. When the lighting is right, you’ll witness a unique cat with a fuzzy, peach-like fur. The initial stroke tells it all – a Sphynx can feel like an elegant, living and breathing chamois creature, thanks to the fine gossamery down coat which is often invisible to the naked eye.
Hugging a Sphynx is akin to melting into the embrace of a warm suede coat! It may seem like Sphynxes are warmer than most cats, but in reality it’s because they need to compensate for having less fur as compared to cats that have fur. Sphynxes also sport characteristic wrinkles around the muzzle, between the ears and around the shoulders.
History Of The Sphynx Cat
The history of the Sphynx cat dates back to the year 1966. You may be surprised to know that the Sphynx came about because of a delightful accident!
A quirky genetic mutation brought the first Sphynx cat into the city of Toronto, Canada. The cat’s owner was surprised to find a hairless kitten in the litter and promptly named him Prune. In an effort to reproduce the same traits, Prune was mated to Elizabeth, his mother. The result was a litter that had both hairless and coated kittens. The Sphynx breed was born and subjected to more interbreeding in the early days.
Prune was bought in the 70s and bred with Devon Rex, a furred cat. Studies have found the bald gene to be recessive and thus, offsprings were blessed either with a coat or none at all. A new breeding program paired the Sphynx to American Shorthairs, which led to the CFA recognizing the Sphynx as a new cat breed. Unfortunately, in 1971 there were concerns about fertility and the new status was revoked by the CFA. The line eventually died out.
Sphynx In The U.S.
The Sphynx cats you see today come from 4 cats named Dermis, Epidermis, Punkie and Paloma.
Ethelyn Pearson owned a farm cat named Jezabelle in the state of Minnesota. Jezabelle gave birth to a hairless kitten, who was named Epidermis. A year later, the same thing happened and the second bald kitten was named Dermis.
There were reports of three more hairless kittens being born in Canada but in different litters. Bambi was a male bald cat who was neutered; in 1979 and 1980, Punkie and Paloma were born. Dr. Hugo Hernandez, a Dutch breeder expressed interest in the cats, and as a result, produced 5 kittens. Q Ramses, Q. Ra and Paloma were used in the program.
Sphynx cats that were later born came from the descendants of Epidermis, Dermis, Paloma and Punkie. The Sphynx breed then went on to become accepted in Championship competition class by the CFA, or Cat Fanciers Association in 2002. Sphynxes are among the most popular breed in the cat fancy category today.
Size Of The Sphynx Cat
The Sphynx as a breed weighs somewhere between 6 to 12 lbs, with the males weighing at somewhere between 8.8 to 11 pounds, and the females weighing at somewhere between 7.8 to 8.8 pounds.
The Sphynx is categorized as a medium to large-sized cat variety. Characteristics include pronounced muscle definition and a heavyset appearance. The legs and the chest are in proportion in regards to the frame, and the back legs being slightly longer than the front ones. The paws are medium and oval in shape, and the tail is long and tapered.
The ears of the Sphynx are large and assume the shape of a bat’s. The Sphynx’s head is similar to that of a wedge, with a broad upper face area beset by large, lemon-like eyes. This wide-eyed feature gives the Sphynx a welcoming, friendly appearance. Its cheekbones are prominent and lend the Sphynx a royal look.
The paws of this breed are thick and cushioned. The muscular legs and whip-like tail make it look taller than it really is. Some Sphynxes have some fur at the end of their tail, a trait that is known as a “lion’s tail”.
Personality Of A Sphynx Cat
Cats are notorious for being aloof, mind-your-own-business, independent creatures. Well, unlike your ordinary cat, Sphynx cats are best known for being affectionate and loving creatures. Owning a Sphynx will truly be a rewarding endeavor. You’ll find your Sphynx cat proving its loyalty and love most of the time- following you wherever you go and slowly wagging their tail as they come along. Sphynxes are no stranger when it comes to cuddling and will gladly go with you on the bed or under the covers as you sleep. Moreover, the Sphynx cat demands your complete attention and hates being ignored.
The Sphynx cat loves meeting new people. You can often see them lounging around doctor’s offices. They are friendly, outgoing and inquisitive. Sphinxes crave human interaction and attention, often going out of their way to be noticed. It’s not unusual for a Sphynx to make a fool of himself or herself so people would look and laugh at them!
If left to himself, the Sphynx does not laze around and sleep the afternoon away. He explores his immediate surroundings, finding the highest spots in the house and looking for curious toys to play with. You may often witness your Sphynx right in the center of mayhem. This breed is intelligent and loves playing brain games and mental challenges that stimulate his mind. The Sphynx is adept at climbing and balancing himself in high places, such as bookshelves, doors and even ceiling fans and chandeliers!
You can compare the breed to a clown because of their love of mischief and playing around. At times they may seem to be a handful, but they are generally well-behaved and won’t cause much trouble. With love and affection, these cats are quite easy to handle.
The Sphynx’s innate sense of humor and friendliness makes it an interesting entry in competitions. It’s no secret that judges love the Sphynx because of its energetic, bright and mischievous personality! Sphynx cat owners should keep their pets indoors as it can get into trouble pretty quickly when left outside with little to no supervision.
Sphynx kittens will need a diet that’s rich in protein and other nutrients for optimal growth. Like most felines, Sphynxes will have a natural desire to practice their clawing skills, so you should plan ahead of time and install scratching posts and other materials to save your pillows, bedding and furniture.
Keep in mind that tendonectomy surgery, or otherwise known as de-clawing is not recommended by the Sphynx Breed Council and the CFA for health and safety reasons.
The placement of the litter box should be considered so you won’t have accidents lying all over the house. Kittens may want to pee or do their business after being overstimulated, after playing too hard or after a meal. It’s best to put the litter box on the same floor so they won’t have to run up two or three stories to pee. In fact, it’s recommended to put everything a cat might need in one room and confine your pets when you’re not around. Train your kittens to use and know where the litter box is so they won’t have to leave a mess around the house. Once they grow up you’ll have an easier time giving them free reign to go about your home without worry.
Sphynx cats are considered to be one of the rarest and most unusual felines in the world. As such, there’s quite a long waiting list if you want to get one from a local Sphynx owner or breeder.
Sphynx owners must wait for at least 12 to 16 weeks after the kitten is born to ensure that the Sphynx is ready for his or her new home. Likewise, if you’re an interested buyer you should wait until the kitten is at the appropriate age range for optimum social stability, physical development, inoculation, showing and transport.
If you’re interested in getting a Sphynx kitten, then you should think about whether or not you’ll be able to handle one during early infancy. Kittens can be a handful and be overly mischievous sometimes. There’s the option of getting an adult Sphynx so you can skip the trouble of caring for a kitten. Ask local breeders and see if you can get a breeder Sphynx, a retired show cat or an adult who needs a loving home.
Sphynxes are generally healthy and sturdy felines. Moreover, they aren’t prone to specific conditions. Here are some diseases that you’ll have to keep an eye out for when taking care of a Sphynx cat:
Scabies. Perhaps the most common skin disease a Sphynx can suffer from. Poor hygiene can result in scabs forming anywhere in the body. Scabs can also be acquired if your Sphynx comes into contact with infected humans and animals.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Sphynxes can also acquire this heart condition, which is more likely to surface if breeding occurs within family members.
Urticaria Pigmentosa. This is a skin disease that makes crusty sores appear on the body.
A Sphynx cat may appear bloated, especially after supper because of its characteristic abdomen and broad chest, but they shouldn’t be obese. Because Sphynxes don’t have much protection when it comes to weather and temperature, they are more vulnerable in extreme cold and heat.
If you’re cold and need added clothing to retain heat, then your Sphynx needs some warmth as well. Turn the heater on and provide warm bedding. Sphynx owners should never leave their cats outside when it’s cold as they could quickly meet an untimely end. In the same vein, a Sphynx’s skin can get sunburned pretty quickly, so do your best to keep your pet out of direct sunlight. A little exposure to the sun can do your cat good, but it’s wise not to overdo it.
A Sphynx may also suffer from the usual bumps, lumps and skin, environmental or food allergies. You can easily see dermis eruptions if this occurs. Caring for the skin is a must, or you’ll start to see greasy detritus that must be cleaned every day. Minimize interaction with outdoor cats to lessen the risk of catching diseases.
Care Of The Sphynx Cat
Sphinx cats need the usual attention and grooming as any cat breed. Your Sphynx will need regular bathing, tooth brushing, nail and ear cleaning. Their skin must be kept moisturized using gentle oils or scent-free lotions.
Coat. Give your pet regular baths to avoid the accumulation of greasy detritus and waking up to an oily pillow, clothing and furniture. Training your cat to bath while he or she is young can make it an enjoyable bonding time in the future. A quick baby wipe or two should suffice in-between baths.
Ears. Your Sphynx cat typically produces more ear wax than any cat breed, and as such they are more prone to grease and mites if not regularly cleaned. A sterile gauze should more than suffice in keeping your cat’s ears wax and grease-free.
Teeth. Regular brushing should stave off periodontal diseases. If your cat allows it, brush him or her once a day. Using a soft, damp cloth, wipe the corners of your Sphynx’s eyes to take away morning glory and other discharge. Use a clean part of the cloth for each eye to lessen the risks of infection. Take a peek at your cat’s ears once a week; wipe with clean cotton balls dipped in a solution of 50/50 warm water and cider vinegar. Don’t use swabs to lessen the chances of damaging the ears.
Claws. Trim your Sphynx’s claws to lessen the accumulation of dirt. Encourage the use of a scratching post so their nails will be trimmed naturally and they get to enjoy themselves in the process.
Do you have an outdoor area for sunbathing? Make sure you apply pet-friendly sunscreen before letting your pet outside for some sun. Schedule an annual check-up with a veterinarian to ensure a healthy, happy cat.
A Sphynx cat is a treasure and best kept indoors for their own physical well-being. With love, care and optimal environment, your Sphynx will provide warm companionship for years to come!
Litter Box Training
Cats appreciate a well-kept litter box that’s always clean and fresh. It’s a rule of thumb to get one litter box for each cat you have around the house. In the instance that one of your cat doesn’t like to share, a separate litter box can keep the peace until they gradually become comfortable with one another.
Some cats will prefer a closed litter box while others want an open one, so it’s up to you to experiment and find out which one your Sphynx prefers. More importantly, keep the litter box and the eating area well away from each other.
As a Sphynx cat owner, it’s your responsibility to scoop the cat litter every day. Nobody wants a dirty, smelly box, so make cleaning up a part of your daily routine.
If your Sphynx starts missing the litter, then you should answer this question- what has changed? You may have bought a new product that’s causing unexpected changes in your cat. If you see skin irritation or rashes, take a look at the box and see what kinds of additive the litter material has. Switch accordingly- Sphynxes do not have protective hair like other breeds do, and they’re more susceptible to rashes when they come in contact with artificial additives.
It could be that a new member of your house enters the picture and your cat thinks that his or her sanctuary is no longer safe. Or, it could be due to changes in your cat’s health. Try as you might, it’s difficult to tell if your cat is feeling pain or showing symptoms of illness. A cat may stop using the litter box if he or she has urinary tract infection. A male Sphynx can experience urine blockage from eating dry foods. Visit a vet in order to rule out illnesses.
Once balance is restored you can retrain your Sphynx to use the litter box again. Do the same training you did when your pet was a kitten and you’ll have him back to using the box in no time!
Sphynx Cat Nutrition
A cat will have different dietary needs as they age, and it’s up to you to feed your Sphinx high-quality food that meets all their nutrition needs.
One notable thing that Sphynxes need is more thermoregulation as they have less fur than other cat breeds. The Sphynx cat consumes more food because they have a faster metabolic process, and they will need more protein and fat content than other cats. Get specific foods that will meet your Sphynx’s special requirements- normal cats may need 20% fat and 30% protein, but a Sphynx will require diet that has at least 25% fat and 35% protein. Provide your kitty kibbles throughout the day.
Coat Color and Grooming
The Sphynx cat is blessed with a wide variety of color and patterns, ranging from mink, pointed, calico, bicolor, tortoiseshell, tabby, lavender and chocolate markings. The color combination comes from the actual skin color of the Sphynx and the hair color, and sometimes one is difficult to tell from the other.
Skin markings are close to fur markings in other cat breeds, but in a Sphynx breed the defining characteristic is actually the lack of fur. Suffice to say, any color combination and markings are acceptable for a Sphynx breed. Eye color can vary from copper, blue, yellow, green or hazel.
Don’t think that because the Sphynx doesn’t have much fur means it doesn’t need grooming. Regular cats rely on their fur to absorb excess skin oil, a luxury that a Sphynx does not have. When left alone, the oils can block the pores and lead to skin problems, not to mention oil spots in your bedding or furniture. Make sure to bathe your Sphynx at least once each week to eliminate the oil buildup and to keep your cat’s skin healthy. Moisturizing or using baby shampoo should do the trick here. Make sure that you rinse the shampoo off your cat thoroughly, paying special attention to the wrinkled areas.
Children And Other Pets
The Sphynx’s easygoing attitude and friendliness makes it a plus if you’re considering adding one to your family. The Sphynx cat complements other pets, whether dog or cat with little to no trouble. You can add another Sphynx to the picture and they won’t mind the added company. In fact, they’ll welcome it with open arms because it’s one more way to cuddle and stay warm!
Sphynx cats are great entertainers, able to make fun of themselves once in a while to get noticed. They love attention from children who can treat them with respect. You won’t have to worry about your Sphynx cat fighting with other dogs or cats. While this is the case, you should always observe the proper procedures when adding another pet within the household.
Sphynx cats may be a logical choice for those who suffer from allergies, but you can never be too sure. The fact is that there’s no cat who is truly hypoallergenic, but what you can do is do an allergy test for the cat’s body oils to ensure safe co-existence.