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July 19, 2013 at 1:32 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Sphynx

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Feline 101 Blog Series


Cat of the Week: The Sphynx



Fun Facts About Sphynx Cats


  • Though Sphynx cats may have the exotic looks of some of the more highly “engineered” breeds, their “hairlessness” is actually the result of a natural genetic mutation.
  • The first recorded mention of a hairless cat dates back to Simpson’s The Book of the Cat, published in 1903. There, a pair of the cats referred to as “Mexican Hairless” owned by a New Mexico cat fancier were claimed to have been purchased from Native Americans in Albuquerque. Latter accounts mentions three hairless kittens born on 1950 to a pair of Siamese cats in Paris and a hairless kitten born to a domestic shorthair pair of cats in Canada 1966, though attempts by their owners to recreate the effect were unsuccessful.
  • That first successful hairless cat breeding actually lies with an ordinary, non-pedigree Minnesota farm cat, Jezabelle in 1975. The two hairless kittens, born in two separate litters, were sold to an interested Oregon breeder. The aptly named Epidermis and Dermis, were outcrossed to Cornish Rex cats and became the roots of the Sphynx breed we know today!
  • Though, for simplicity’s sake, we refer to the Sphynx as hairless, this is not technically the case.  Sphynx cats are actually covered in very fine, downy hair which people often say makes them feel like a warm peach. It also true that there are different degrees of hairlessness in the breed.  Longer, though still quite short, hairs are frequently present on their nose and ears and sometimes on their toes or tails as well.
  • While some people with cat allergies say they are able to tolerate Sphynx cats, the breed is not actually hypoallergenic.  Cat allergies are actually triggered by dead skin cells and saliva, but because these commingle with fur, many people mistakenly think it is the hair causing the problem.  So, though Sphynx cats are less able to spread their allergens through the house, prospective owners should know they may still cause allergic symptoms.
  • There are three different types of Sphynx cats -  the Canadian Sphynx, the Peterbald, and Don Sphynx.
  • Famous Sphynx cats include (post-cryogenic freezing) Mr. Bigglesworth, Mini Mr. Bigglesworth, and Ludwig, Kat Von D’s cat from LA Ink.


How to Spot a Sphynx


Hairless Look.  While, as we discussed before, the Sphynx is actually covered in a fine down and therefore, is not truly hairless, they should appear to be and that look is definitely their most recognized characteristic.  Without the usual thicket of hair covering cats, the Sphynx offers a unique look at feline form beneath the fur. Wrinkles, a desirable trait in the breed, are actually present in all cats. The coloring and pattern (of which all variations are allowed!) come from both from their (very small amount of) hair and their actual skin - also true of your run-of-the-mill, “fully-clothed” kitty!

“But don’t they get cold?” you ask. The answer is that they can. A good rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you to be comfortable while nude, they’re probably going to want some cover.  Thankfully, these are pretty smart cats and will go looking for heat under a blanket, on top of your computer, by a heater, or preferably to them, in your lap.

As you might imagine, the hairless trait makes a Sphynx relatively easy to groom. There’s certainly no need to brush them, however, because they lack fur to absorb the natural oils a cat’s skin gives off, they do still benefit from bathing, ear, and nail cleaning. Without it they may get a little shiny and develop what some Sphynx owners describe as “a sort of cheesy odor.”

Large Ears and Eyes.  It’s not just the lack of hair that makes them look that way. Sphynx cats are known for their exceptionally large ears and eyes.  Sphynx ears should be medium-set, upright and totally hairless inside.  Sphynx eyes should be lemon shaped and slanting toward the outer corner of the ear.

Medium Size. The lack of fur can be deceptive, but these cats are not by any means, dainty or delicate. Considered a medium sized cat, the Sphynx is much heavier and sturdier than they look. With a broad, even barrel chest and tummy which always looks like they’ve just eaten a large meal, these are muscular athletic felines.


What to Expect From a Sphynx


A Best Friend.  There’s more to love about the Sphynx than their odd, exotic look! These cats are among the most loyal feline breeds you’ll find. They’re constant companions  and they want to be with no matter what you’re doing.  Partially, owners admit, this comes from a practical desire for warmth, but purrs, and affectionate head-butts make it clear, it’s for your love too.  Their persistently friendly disposition wins over even those people uneasy about their quirky appearance.  The Sphynx is a notorious flirt and will warmly greet every visitor to your home. They don’t mind being different. They love being the center of attention!

A Comedian.  Sphynx cats are extremely playful and impressively athletic. Expect them to show off for you jumping from counter to cabinets, and to discover the best little hiding places from which to “attack.” These cats are known to be comedians - they’ll tell you plenty of jokes too in their distinctive nasal voice. ;)

A Very Intelligent Kitty. In fact, Sphynx are among the top 5 smartest cat breeds in the world! To keep their active, inquisitive mind from becoming bored (and making their own, potentially destructive, fun) make sure to provide them with plenty of challenging play. Throw balls or stuffed mice for them. Let them chase a laser around obstacles.  Get a companion for them – another cat or dog – if you’ll often be away for much of the day. Given an owner with an appreciation of the unusual and love of active, involved felines, the Sphynx can be a great friend and a constant source of amusement.


Feline 101 Diagnosis: Skin Exposure


Recommended Product: Derma-Ionx

Derma-IonxIn peak condition, a Sphynx's hairless physique is said to rival the most abundantly long-furred kitties for softness. Like a peach warmed in the sun or a luxurious chamois, the Sphynx is wonderful to touch. Unfortunately though, they are also more exposed to elements and prone to sun burn and other skin irritations. To keep them looking their best, Sphynx owners should make sure their kitty's not exposed to too much heat or cold, and should add a little Derma-Ionx to their water each day.

Derma-Ionx is a natural homeopathic that uses a range of natural ingredients known to promote skin health and help repair damage as it occurs including:

  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Roughness
  • Chapping
  • Cracking
  • Rashes
  • And More!

Best of all? No pills, no powders - the tasteless, clear mineralized liquid formulation means even the fussiest of felines won't mind the dose in their water or food! Derma-Ionx provides cats and dogs with safe, natural, side-effect free skin support!

Learn more about Derma-Ionx HERE!


More Sphynx Cats!!!



VetStreet: The Sphynx

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: Sphynx

The Cat Fancier’s Association: Sphynx Breed Profile


YouTube: First Bath for Sphynx Kitten | Too Cute

YouTube: Sphynx Kitten Loves English Bulldog


Niklas Pivic@flickr

Jarred Zimmerman@flickr

Toni Viemero@flickr





Jill Carlson@flickr



Arno Arno@flickr


Nancy Kamergorodsky@flickr

The Pug Father@flickr

Tomi Tapio@flickr


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