Learn all you need to know about this affectionate pet, its personality and appearance, in this guide to the Sphynx cat.
Let’s continue our ongoing blog series exploring the UK’s most-loved pedigree cats. In this instalment, we are excited to examine the Sphynx. A cat that catches the eye, the Sphynx is a breed renowned for its hairless body and expansive eyes. Beyond the Sphynx’s unique appearance, however, is a breed that is curious, loving, and often the centre of attention — no matter what the environment.
To learn more about this lovable breed, here’s our guide to the Sphynx cat.
While you’re here, check out our Beginner’s Guide to the British Shorthair
What Is a Sphynx Cat?
The Sphynx cat is a well-known breed around the world, famous for its lack of fur. The cat developed this hairless look through selective breeding that began in the 1960s. Though Sphynx cats appear to be completely hairless, they actually have a small amount of fine, soft hairs. These cats are warm and soft to the touch despite their lack of coat, and they have been sought-after for decades due to their striking appearance and friendly personalities. In fact, the breed is the 6th most popular cat breed in the UK.
History of the Sphynx Cat
Although hairless cats have been around for centuries (the Aztecs were known to have kept hairless cats), the Sphynx breed initially came about by accident in 1966. A rare genetic mutation resulted in the birth of a hairless kitten called Prune into a Canadian home. This first “accident” in Ontario was the genesis of the widespread breeding of the Sphynx, which was initially known as the Canadian Hairless Cat. The Sphynx (as we now know the breed) made its way to America, where American experts bred it with other cats to continue the hairless gene.
While the Cat Fanciers Association officially recognised the Sphynx in 2002, followed by The International Cat Association in 2005 and several other independent cat clubs across Europe, some registries refuse to acknowledge this breed. This is because they believe the hairless gene could be harmful to cat health and longevity.
Appearance of the Sphynx
The Sphynx’s most notable trait is its lack of visible fur. Sphynx cats also have a higher body temperature than other cats because they don’t have any fur for insulation. Sphynx’s are sometimes labelled as “suede hot water bottles” as a result!
In most cases, the Sphynx is a relatively muscular breed (dense and heavy for its size). The cats have angular faces that give them a distinctive look. Sphynx cats are born wrinkled, but most of these wrinkles reduce as they grow into adulthood, although some will remain throughout their lives. The Sphynx also has large ears when compared with its body size, allowing these cats to enjoy exceptional hearing. Their heads are triangular with prominent cheekbones and wide-set eyes. They are also known for their webbed feet.
Given their hairless coats, some people wonder — do Sphynx cats have whiskers? Interestingly, their whiskers may be present or completely absent. This absence tends to draw even more attention to their almond-shaped eyes.
What Colour Is the Sphynx?
The skin of the Sphinx shows what colour each cat’s fur would be. You can also see hints of the usual cat markings and pigmentation patterns on the Sphynx cat’s skin. Sphynx cats come in a wide variety of colours and patterns.
Average Weight of a Sphynx Cat
On average, an adult Sphynx Cat will weigh between five and six kilograms, due to its muscular frames.
Temperament of the Sphynx
With their unique appearance, Sphynx cats are often centre of attention and this suits them down to the ground. They are affectionate and curious by nature and enjoy the companionship of others — be that an owner or another cat. A Sphynx will often seek out high spaces to explore or will play with cat toys to keep themselves active and entertained. A Sphynx likes its creature comforts and will find warmer spots on a cold day, so don’t be surprised if your Sphynx comes and curls up in your arms during the harsh winter months! Above all, the Sphynx is an affectionate family cat that enjoys company — whatever form it comes in.
Do Sphynx Cats Shed Hair?
While the Sphynx doesn’t have any real fur to shed, this doesn’t mean it’s a maintenance-free breed by any means. Their bodies still produce oils. These oils are normally absorbed by fur, but as this can’t happen with Sphynx cats, the oils build upon their skin. This means they need regular bathing. If your Sphynx is an outside cat, their skin also needs protection from the sun.
Do Sphynx Cats like Water?
You might have seen a few adorable YouTube videos of Sphynx cats playing in water:
This is not uncommon for this breed! As we mentioned, Sphynx cats need regular baths, so they tend to love the water — particularly warm water. If you have a Sphynx, you’ll need to bathe them at least once a week, so their skin remains healthy. Be cautious of using water that is too warm (you don’t want to hurt them!) and you’ll have to ask your vet for a pet cleanser.
What Is the Lifespan of a Sphynx?
The typical lifespan of a Sphynx cat is around 10-15 years.
Sphynx Health Considerations
As for all pedigree cats, regular check-ups at the vets are recommended to ensure your Sphynx is in a healthy condition. Special care needs to be taken in-between any folds of skin to ensure sores don’t develop.
Good dental hygiene is always advised, as is wiping the corners of a Sphynx cat’s eyes every day to get rid of any natural discharge. Remember to use different cleaning cloths for each body part to prevent the spread of infection. Most Sphynx’s are kept indoors only, but for those with access to outdoor areas, sun-screen is required on hot days to protect the skin against sunburn.
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