Sphynx cat breed information and advice
Despite its name and resemblance to the cats of ancient Egypt, the Sphynx breed was only developed in the 1960s in Canada. A kitten called Prune was born in Ontario with a natural genetic mutation for hairlessness and through selective breeding the Sphynx breed was created.
The breed arrived in the UK in 1988. Bred specifically to be hairless, their looks might not appeal to everyone. But their happy and sociable personality will soon win you round. They love company but can be high maintenance so will need a family that can devote the time that they need. They’re ideally suited to being kept as an indoor cat.
Sphynx cat facts
£700-800 for a kitten
3 - 4 kg (female); 4 - 5 kg (male)
intelligent, curious and affectionate
Sphynx cat insurance
It’s important to protect your Sphynx cat with cat insurance. This will help with the cost of any unexpected illnesses or accidents. This means that for any new conditions veterinary treatment, medication, vet prescribed complementary treatment or surgery will be covered.
Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance
You can take out a cat insurance policy with Sainsbury’s Bank if your Sphynx cat is over 8 weeks and less than 10 years old. If a policy is taken out before their 10th birthday, the cover will be continued year after year so long you keep renewing.
How to care for a Sphynx cat
Being hairless, the Sphynx will feel the heat or cold more than other cat breeds. The lack of coat means they’re prone to sunburn so any time spent outdoors should be monitored.
Feeding and nutrition
The Sphynx cat has a high metabolism and is an energetic breed so might need a bit more food than the average cat. You may find that it’s always hungry so make sure you provide a high calorie food. Ask your breeder which cat food they use and continue to use the same brand. Sphynx cats can have sensitive tummies so if you want to change their diet, this should be done gradually. You can ask your vet to recommend a cat food specifically designed to meet the nutritional requirements for this breed.
Sphynx cats don’t have fur, but they do have a downy covering. Their skin has the texture of a peach or chamois leather. While they don’t have hair to groom, they will need their skin wiped with a damp cloth once a week. They’ll also need a regular bath to remove the body oils that are normally absorbed by hair. They can have more ear wax than other cats so make sure that their ears, skin folds, and nails are cleaned every week. All this means that they are quite high maintenance.
Sphynxes are very active and energetic. They’re always on the go so their exercise needs are low. These athletic cats like to jump so provide a perch or cat tree. They’ll love to play and get involved with whatever you’re doing.
Sphynx cats are intelligent, and toilet or litter training will be picked up quickly. They love puzzle toys and being taught new tricks.
Temperament and behaviour
Affectionate, playful and attention-loving, Sphynx cats have loads of personality. They are curious and full of mischief so provide them with plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Although they can keep themselves entertained if they’re left alone for part of the day, they also enjoy the company of other cats or a cat-friendly dog. They always want someone or another pet to snuggle up to. They like to keep warm so won’t pass up the opportunity to curl up on your lap. They might even climb onto your shoulders.
Common health problems
Generally, Sphynx cats tend to be quite healthy but there are a few conditions which can affect the breed. From skin problems to respiratory issues, there are a few problems to watch out for.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
HCM is a heart disease that is inherited in some cat breeds. Sphynx cats can be affected. The condition causes thickening (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure. There is no cure, but long-term medication can slow the disease down.
This hereditary condition can affect Sphynx cats and is similar to the myopathy (meaning muscle disease) that affects the Devon Rex breed. It’s also known as congenital myotonia syndrome (CMS) or spasticity. Along with generalised muscle weakness, affected cats may be unable to raise their head. They can also have problems swallowing food which can lead to choking.
There’s no cure as it’s caused by a gene mutation. A genetic test is available to determine cats that are carriers for the gene; affected cats shouldn’t be used for breeding.
Hairless cats are prone to sun damage (solar dermatitis) so Sphynx cats shouldn’t spend too much time out in the sun. It can lead to skin cancer. A pet-safe suntan cream can be used but it must be non-toxic as cats tend to lick the cream off.
How much is a Sphynx cat?
The price of a Sphynx cat depends on the breeder and availability (they are quite rare). But expect to pay between £700-£800 for a kitten. Sphynx cat breeders should have their cats screened for HCM so ask for the results of the heart scans for the parents before buying a kitten.
Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?
Lacking fur doesn’t mean that Sphynx cats are hypoallergenic. They still produce the protein Fel d1 in their saliva and the dander that contains dead skin cells and saliva will still be on their skin. If you’re allergic to the proteins in a cat’s saliva, you will be allergic to the Sphynx. However, some allergy sufferers have reported that they can tolerate these cats better than other cats with fur.
What are the different types of Sphynx cat?
Hairlessness is an inherited trait caused by a recessive mutation. The Sphynx cat is sometimes called the Canadian Sphynx and was bred specifically for this trait. But not all bald cats are Sphynxes. Other hairless breeds include the Peterbald, Donskey, Bambino, Elf, Lykoi and Ukrainian Levkoy breeds.
Do Sphynx cats have to wear clothes?
There are many websites selling clothes designed for the Sphynx cat so if you want to dress your cat, then it’s up to you and your Sphynx cat! In cold climates, Sphynx cats may wear coats to keep them warm.
Is a Sphynx cat right for you?
If you are looking for an indoor cat with unusual looks and a big personality, then the Sphynx is the cat for you. Playful, affectionate and energetic, they will demand attention and can be a bit of a handful. Be prepared to have a constant companion. They’re a great pet for families with children and other pets, but they don’t like to be left alone all day so may not be the best pet for working households.
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