Sphynx Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide
By: Buzzpetz Updated: May 13, 2023
Sphynx cats are a breed of cats that are known for their lack of fur or hair. They have a distinctive appearance that makes them stand out among other felines. But what is the story behind these hairless cats? How do they differ from other breeds in terms of personality, health, and care? And what are some tips for choosing a name for your Sphynx cat? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.
Less than 12 pounds
13 to 15 inches, head to tail
Nearly hairless, peach fuzz
Any color, including white, black, red, brown, white, and lilac
Any pattern, including solid, bi-color, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, tuxedo, and pointed
Any possible feline eye color
Playful, affectionate, friendly, energetic, and loving
8 to 14 years
Good with Kids
Good with Pets
History of the Sphynx Cat
The Sphynx cat is not an ancient breed, as some might think. In fact, they aren’t even the first hairless breed! That title actually belongs to a cat bred by the Aztecs. The first historical mention of a hairless cat dates back to the 1300s, when the Aztecs in Mexico kept and revered them as sacred animals. However, this ancient breed became extinct after the Spanish conquest.
The Sphynx breed as we know it is a relatively new breed that originated in Canada in the 1960s. A far cry from the ancient Egyptian origin most people understandably assume. The first Sphynx cat, originally going by the name Canadian Hairless Cat, was born as a result of a random genetic mutation that caused a kitten to be hairless. The kitten was named Prune and was bred with other cats to produce more hairless kittens. However, the breeding program was unsuccessful; many kittens died or had health problems.
In 1975, another pair of hairless cats named Dermis and Epidermis were found in a barn in Minnesota. They were bred with Devon Rex cats, a breed with very short curly hair, and contributed to the development of the Sphynx breed.
In 1978, three more hairless cats named Bambi, Punkie, and Paloma were found in Toronto. They were raised by Shirley Smith and also added to the Sphynx gene pool. These kittens went on to provide the foundation for the modern breed as we know it.
The Sphynx cat was named after the Egyptian mythical creature that had the body of a lion and the head of a human. However, the spelling was changed to “Sphynx” with a “y” instead of an “i” to differentiate it from the famous sculpture.
The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the Sphynx breed for “champion” status in 1979, and the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 2002. Today, the Sphynx cat is one of the world’s most popular and sought-after breeds.
The Appearance of the Sphynx Cat
The Sphynx cat is a medium-sized breed that has a distinctive appearance due to its lack of fur or hair. However, they are not completely hairless. Some Sphynx cats have a sparse, downy layer of fur on their ears, nose, tail, and toes. Their skin is wrinkly, soft, and warm to the touch. Their skin color and pattern match their fur color and pattern, if they had any.
The Sphynx cat has a muscular and athletic body with a rounded abdomen. Their legs are long and slender, and their paws are oval-shaped with long toes. Their tail is long and tapering and sometimes has a tuft of fur at the tip.
The Sphynx cat has a wedge-shaped head, prominent cheekbones, and a strong chin. Their ears are large, upright, and wide at the base. Their eyes are large, almond-shaped, and slightly slanted. Their nose is straight with a slight curve at the end.
The Sphynx cat can have any eye color or coat color. The eye color ranges from blue, green, yellow, and copper to odd-eyed (blue and one non-blue eye). The coat color can range from white, black, red, brown, and cream to lilac. The coat pattern can be a solid, bi-color, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, tuxedo, or pointed.
The Sphynx cat has a breed standard that defines the ideal appearance of the breed. The breed standard is set by various cat associations that recognize and register the Sphynx cat as an official breed. Some of the major cat associations that have a breed standard for the Sphynx cat are The International Cat Association (TICA), the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), and the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe).
The breed standard may vary slightly among different cat associations, but they generally agree on the main characteristics of the Sphynx cat. However, some variations may occur within the breed due to genetic diversity or crossbreeding with other breeds. For example, some Sphynx cats may have more hair than others or have different body shapes or sizes.
The appearance of the Sphynx cat is not only unique but also beautiful in its own way. The Sphynx cat is a breed that challenges the conventional standards of beauty and charm with its hairless feature and wrinkled skin. However, many people find the Sphynx cat attractive and appealing for its distinctive look and personality.
Sphynx Cat Personalities
The Sphynx cat is not only unique in appearance but also in personality. These cats are very social, affectionate, friendly, energetic, and loving. They crave attention and companionship from their owners and other pets. They are not shy or aloof but rather outgoing and curious. They love to play and explore but also to cuddle and snuggle.
Sphynx cats are also very intelligent and vocal. They can learn tricks and commands easily and will communicate their needs and wants with various sounds and gestures. They are not quiet cats but rather chatty and expressive.
Sphynx cats are ideal for people who want a cat that acts more like a dog than a cat. They are loyal and devoted to their owners and will follow them around or sit on their laps whenever possible. They also enjoy being held and carried around.
However, Sphynx cats are not for everyone. They are very demanding pets that require constant care and attention. They also have high energy levels and need plenty of stimulation and exercise. They can get bored and destructive if left alone for too long. They are unsuitable for people allergic to cats or prefer a more independent, low-maintenance cat.
Sphynx cats are friendly, affectionate, and loyal to their owners and pets.
Sphynx cats are very playful, energetic, and entertaining and are involved in their owners’ activities.
Sphynx cats are intelligent, curious, and trainable and can learn tricks and commands easily.
Sphynx cats do not shed fur or hair, which can be a benefit for people who are allergic or dislike cleaning up cat hair.
Sphynx cats are very high-maintenance and require regular bathing, grooming, and moisturizing to keep their skin healthy and clean.
Sphynx cats are very sensitive to cold, sunburn, and skin infections and need a warm and safe environment.
Sphynx cats are very vocal, demanding of attention, and sometimes noisy and clingy.
Sphynx cats are very expensive to buy and care for, as they are rare, popular, and prone to some health issues.
Common Health Issues in Sphynx Cats
The Sphynx cat is generally a healthy breed that can live up to 14 years or more. However, like any other breed, they are prone to some health issues that owners should be aware of.
One of the most common health problems in Sphynx cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is a heart disease that causes the thickening of the heart muscle. Not being diagnosed and treated early can lead to heart failure or sudden death. HCM can be inherited or acquired, and there is no cure for it. However, regular screening tests can help detect it before it becomes severe.
Another health issue affecting Sphynx cats is Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI), a blood disorder that occurs when a mother cat has a different blood type than her kittens. This can cause the mother’s antibodies to attack the kittens’ red blood cells, leading to anemia or death. NI can be prevented by testing the blood types of both parents before breeding.
Caring For Your Sphynx Cat
The Sphynx cat is not a low-maintenance breed. They require constant care and attention to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some of the main aspects of Sphynx cat care that owners should know.
The Sphynx cat’s skin is one of its most distinctive features and most vulnerable. Because they lack fur, their skin is exposed to dirt, oil, sun, and cold. Therefore, they need regular bathing and moisturizing to prevent skin problems.
They should be bathed once a week with a gentle, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cat shampoo. This will help remove the excess oil that accumulates on their skin and can cause acne, infections, or odors. Afterward, rinse them thoroughly and patdry with a soft towel. Rubbing can irritate their delicate skin.
Their ears should be cleaned once a week with a cotton ball or swab and a mild ear cleaner. This will help remove the waxy buildup that can cause ear infections or deafness. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly to avoid scratching their skin.
After bathing, moisturize their skin with natural oils or lotions to prevent dryness and flaking. However, take care not to over-moisturize, as this can clog their pores and cause more oil production. A small amount of oil or lotion applied to their skin with a cotton ball or pad is enough.
The Sphynx cat’s lack of fur also affects its ability to regulate its body temperature. They lose heat more easily than other cats and can get cold or hypothermic in low temperatures. They also absorb heat more easily than other cats and can get hot or sunburned in high temperatures.
Keep your cat indoors at a comfortable and stable temperature. They should have access to warm and cozy places to curl up and sleep, such as blankets, beds, or heated pads. They should also have access to cool and shady places to rest and relax, such as tiles, fans, or air conditioners.
A Sphynx should also be protected from sun exposure and skin damage. They should not be left outside for long periods of time without supervision or shade. They can wear sunscreen or clothing specially designed for cats when going outside. However, they should not wear clothing constantly, as this can interfere with their natural oil production and skin health.
Diet and Nutrition
The Sphynx cat’s high metabolism and energy level also affect its dietary needs. They burn more calories than other cats and need more food to maintain their weight and health. They also need more water to stay hydrated and prevent urinary problems.
Feed your Sphynx high-quality, balanced, and complete cat food that meets their nutritional requirements. The food should be rich in protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It should also be low in carbohydrates, fillers, preservatives, and artificial colors or flavors.
Feed at least twice a day or free-feed throughout the day (if your cat will self-regulate itself). They should have access to fresh and clean water at all times. They should not be given human food or treats that are high in sugar, salt, or fat. They should also not be given milk or dairy products, as these can cause digestive problems.
Name Ideas for a Sphynx
A cat’s name is an important aspect of their identity. Choosing a name for your Sphynx cat can be fun and challenging at the same time. You often want a name that has meaning to you or reflects their personality, appearance, origin, or uniqueness.
Here are some ideas for choosing a name for your Sphynx cat:
Think of names related to their hairless features, such as Baldy, Fuzzy, Peachy, Velcro, or Wrinkles.
Think of names related to their ancient Egyptian namesake, such as Cleo, Nefertiti, Anubis, Osiris, or Sphinx.
Think of names related to their playful and friendly personality, such as Bubbles, Gizmo, Mimi, Nala, or Luna.
Think of names related to their Canadian origin or culture, such as Maple, Moose, Poutine, or Drake.
Think of names related to their regal or elegant appearance, such as Athena, Caesar, Coco, or Dior.
Think of names related to their funny or quirky traits, such as Buddha, Dobby, Elvis, or Yoda.
Think of short, catchy names like Ace, Bo, Leo, or Zoe.
Of course, these are just some suggestions. You can also choose a name that has a personal meaning for you or your cat. The most important thing is to pick a name that you and your cat love. Let us know if you have a clever or witty name idea; we love to hear them!
Where to Buy a Sphynx Cat
If you are interested in buying a Sphynx cat, you should be prepared to spend considerable money. Sphynx cats are one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world due to their rarity, popularity, and breeding difficulties.
The average price range of a Sphynx cat is between $1,500 to $4,500. However, factors such as the cat’s quality, color, and breeder can affect this cost. Purebred Sphynx cats with pedigrees and papers are more expensive than mixed or unregistered ones. Rare colors or patterns, such as blue-eyed or odd-eyed Sphynx cats, are also more costly than common ones. Breeding rights also increase the price, as they allow you to breed your cat and sell the kittens.
The price of a Sphynx cat also depends on where you buy it from. There are different sources of Sphynx cats, such as breeders and rescue groups. Each source has advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before purchasing.
Breeders are the most common and reliable source of Sphynx cats. They are professionals who specialize in breeding and raising Sphynx cats according to certain standards and ethics. They usually have a lot of experience and knowledge about the breed and can provide you with health certificates, genetic tests, vaccination records, and contracts for your cat.
However, not all breeders are reputable and trustworthy. Some breeders may be irresponsible or unethical and may sell sickly or poorly bred cats for a high price. They may also not provide adequate care or socialization for their cats or kittens. Therefore, it is important to research and find a reputable breeder registered with a reputable cat association, such as TICA or CFA.
To find a reputable breeder, you can check online directories or websites of cat associations or clubs. You can also ask for referrals from other Sphynx owners or veterinarians. Before buying one, you should visit the breeder’s facility and meet the cats and kittens in person. You should also ask questions about the cat’s health, temperament, history, and care.
Rescue groups are another source of Sphynx cats. They are organizations that rescue and rehome abandoned, abused, or unwanted Sphynx cats. They usually have volunteers who foster the cats until they find a suitable home for them. They also provide medical care and spay/neuter services for the cats.
However, adopting a Sphynx cat from a rescue group may also have some challenges. Some rescue cats may have health or behavioral issues that require special care or attention. Some rescue cats may also be older or less socialized than kittens from breeders. Therefore, it is important to be patient and understanding with your rescue cat and provide them with love and support.
To find a rescue group that has Sphynx cats available for adoption, you can check online directories or websites of rescue groups. You can also ask for referrals from other Sphynx owners or veterinarians. If possible, visit the rescue group’s facility and meet the cats in person before adopting one. You should also fill out an application form and pay an adoption fee.
The Sphynx cat is a breed that is not for everyone. They have special needs and challenges that require dedicated and responsible owners. However, they also have many rewards and joys that make them worth the effort.
Sphynx cats are loyal and full of love for their humans and can often be spotted following them around or snuggling up while wagging their tails. They are also entertaining and amusing companions that will make you laugh with their antics and expressions. They are curious and adventurous cats that will keep you on your toes with their discoveries and escapades.
Sphynx cats are not just pets; they are family members. They will enrich your life with their presence and personality. If you are looking for a cat that will give you unconditional love and endless fun, the Sphynx cat might be the one for you.
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Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the sphynx cat that may help you learn more about this breed.
How much are sphynx cats?
The average price range of a sphynx cat is between $1,500 to $4,500. Sphynx cats are one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world due to their rarity, popularity, and breeding difficulties.
Are sphynx cats hypoallergenic?
Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic, as some people might think. Although they lack fur, they still produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions in some people. These allergens are mainly found on their skin or in their saliva. Sphynx cats also need regular bathing to remove the excess oil and dirt from their skin, which can also cause allergies.
How long do sphynx cats live?
Sphynx cats have a lifespan of 8 to 14 years, which is similar to other cat breeds. However, their lifespan can vary depending on their health, genetics, and care. Sphynx cats are prone to some health issues that can affect their longevity, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart disease that can cause sudden death. Regular screening tests and veterinary check-ups can help detect and treat any health problems early.
Why are sphynx cats hairless?
Sphynx cats are hairless because of a genetic mutation that affects their hair growth. This mutation is recessive, meaning both parents must carry the gene for their offspring to be hairless. The mutation causes the hair follicles to be underdeveloped or absent, resulting in a lack of fur or hair on the body. However, some sphynx cats may have a very fine layer of fuzz on some parts of their body.
Are sphynx cats nice?
Sphynx cats are very nice and friendly cats that love human attention and companionship. They are very social and outgoing with people and other pets. They are also very playful and energetic and enjoy entertaining and amusing their owners with their antics and expressions. They are loyal and devoted to their owners and will follow them around or sit on their laps whenever possible. They are not shy or aloof but rather curious and adventurous.