Sphynx

Sphynx Cat, Canadian Hairless Cat, Moon Cat, Wrinkled Cat

Family: FelidaeSphynx, Sphynx Cat, Canadian Hairless Cat, Moon Cat, or Wrinkled CatFelis domesticusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Justin Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
i have a male sphinx 1 yr old the lady that I purchased him from told me the mom didn't feed them so she syringe feed the 5 of them. When I got him home he was very... (more)  Theresa Pratt

The Sphynx Cat is truly an extraordinary breed, a hairless cat that's also an extrovert!

The Sphynx, in contrast with its extreme appearance, is outgoing and very pleasant with an even temperament. This cat breed has very large ears, a thin whippy tail, some wrinkles in the skin, and is almost completely hairless. Yet it's not actually hairless, rather it is covered with a fine down or "peach fuzz", known as vellus hair.

Besides being a most stunning creature as a hairless cat, the Sphynx Cat has a number of other physical traits that also add to its very unusual look. These include a muscular well-rounded body with an arch in the back, a somewhat angular face with big oval "lemon drop" eyes, and very large, wide-set ears. Sphynx admirers regard it as being "part monkey, part dog, part child, and part cat", while others have described it as being "the ugliest creature alive" and "a creature with a hairless body", and as having a "snake's head", a "rat's tail", and "earl like bats' wings".

The hairless trait of the Sphynx is both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, the Sphynx is much less likely to induce allergic reactions compared to other cat breeds. On the negative side, this breed is extremely vulnerable to harsh weather, and should be provided with protection from the elements. It is obvious that the Sphynx requires no brushing or combing, but it is not a low maintenance cat. It needs to be cleaned with a washcloth or baby wipes regularly in order to remove the oil and dust that accumulates on its skin. Its ears also need to be cleaned occasionally.

Despite its alien appearance, the Sphynx is highly sociable and affectionate. It is sweet, loving, and attention-seeking. They prefer the attention of humans, but also enjoy being with dogs and other cats. They can be lively and playful and can be taught to walk on a leash. No matter what you think about its physical features, this is a truly lovable cat with an interesting appearance that is sure to strike up conversations wherever it goes. This is a rare breed, though it is sometimes available in America, Europe, and Australia.

For information about keeping a pet cat, see:
Cat Care: How to Take Care of a Cat


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Genus: Felis
  • Species: domesticus

Background Several hairless cats have appeared in history, such as the Mexican Hairless Cat of the early 1900's, but currently, the only pedigree hairless breed is the Sphynx. This breed originated from a hairless male kitten, named Prune, which was born on January 31st, 1966 in Toronto Canada. Prune was the offspring of Elizabeth, a black and white pet of Mrs. Micalwaith.

The hairless trait, along with the excessively long and angular body, was caused by a spontaneous mutation due to a recessive gene. The kitten and mother were passed onto Mrs. Yania Bawa, a Siamese breeder, who bred the kitten back to its mother, producing more hairless kittens. The breeding program continued by breeding American Shorthair Females with hairless males.

At first, the Sphynx held some popularity in America, but when it became apparent that rearing kittens was difficult, many cat breed enthusiasts opposed its pedigree status. But in the 1980's it was exported to Holland and France, where new breeding programs began. Later it arrived in Britain, and was given championship status in The International Cat Association (TICA), though it is still not recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) or the Fédéderation Internationale Féline (FIFe). Common names for this cat breed include Sphynx, Sphynx Cat, Canadian Hairless Cat, Moon Cat, Wrinkled Cat, Birthday Suit Cat, and Chat sans Poils (its French name).

There are not many hairless cats, which makes this breed even more exceptional. The Sphynx is a mutation breed cat. There are several other unique breeds with interesting coats that are either mutation cat breeds or hybrid cat breeds. Another breed with a wiry coat is the Bramble Cat, which is actually a newer hybrid cat breed developed by crossing several breeds, including the Peterbald (a mutation hairless cat) and the Bengal Cat (a hybrid cat).

A few other distinctive cat breeds can have wavy or curly coats, or can also be hairless cats. Some of these breeds are:

  • Donskoy, Don Hairless, or Don Sphynx - a hairless cat, but that has a "peach fuzz" type of coat. This is mutation cat breed whose characteristic hairlessness is caused by a dominant gene.
  • Peterbald or Russian Peterbald - this is a hybrid cat breed, created by crossing a Donskoy or Don Hairless with Siamese cats and Oriental cats.
  • Levkoy or Ukrainian Levkoy Cat - this is a newer hybrid cat breed, a hairless cat with folded ears. It is created by crossing a lop-eared cat with a Sphynx cat. These cats are very rare, seen predominantly in the east European country of Ukraine, but by 2008 there were over 200 registered within the Ukraine and Russia.
  • Cornish Rex - a mutation cat breed with a fine undercoat of wavy thin hairs.
  • Devon Rex - a mutation cat breed with a fine undercoat of wavy thin hairs as well as some guard hairs, giving it a bit more lumpy appearance than the Cornish Rex.
  • American Wirehair Cat - this is a mutation breed cat with a wonderfully springy coat of delicate wiry hair, similar to the coat of a lamb and each hair is crimped, bent, hooked, or curled.
  • Bramble Cat - this cat also has a wiry coat, it is a newer hybrid cat breed developed by crossing several breeds, including the Peterbald (a mutation hairless cat) and the Bengal Cat (a hybrid cat).

Description The Sphynx is a medium-sized, elongated, muscular cat. The body is well-rounded and fully muscular. The back is slightly arched. The legs are in proportion with the body and well-muscled. The tail length is also proportionate with the body. It is slender, and tapering. The head is medium-sized, angular, and slightly triangular. The eyes are large, lemon-shaped, wide-set, and slightly slanted upward toward the ears, which are very large and wide-set. They live to be 10-15 years old and weigh 6-11 pounds.

The main defining feature of the Sphynx is, of course its coat, or lack there-of. The Sphynx is known as being hairless, but that is not completely true. It is covered in fine down known as vellus hair, making it feel like a warm peach or suede fabric. Short, fine hair is sometimes present on the tail, feet, nose, and cheekbones. Wrinkled skin is desirable, but not excessively. The Sphynx is accepted in all color variations, which can be seen in the skin pigmentation and fine hair.

Glossary terms:

  • vellus hair: Short, fine, light-colored hair, downy to the touch and barely noticeable, commonly called "peach fuzz" or "burn fluff"

Care and Feeding The Sphynx eats a lot more than other cats of similar body size, in order to help regulate its body temperature.

Housing Your Cat The Sphynx is not highly active, so it can be perfectly content in a small apartment or large house. Though the Sphynx is vulnerable to the cold and sun, it does not need to be kept exclusively indoors. When it is sunny, it should be provided with shade and when it is cold, it can be protected with a small dog jumper or cut sleeve from a sweatshirt. During extreme weather, it is best to keep this cat indoors.

Maintenance The Sphynx requires no brushing, but it does require regular washing with a washcloth or baby wipes. Also, since it lacks the fur around its ears to block dust and dirt from entering them, it needs occasional ear cleanings as well.

Social Behaviors The Sphynx is an extrovert, that is highly sociable and affectionate. This breed that adores humans and enjoys being with dogs and other cats.

Activities The Sphynx is a highly intelligent breed and very lively. This breed enjoys socializing and interacting with others (people as well as dogs and cats) the most, but it can also find pleasure in playing with toys and using a scratching post. They can also be taught to walk on a leash.

Breeding/Reproduction The average litter size for this breed is 4 kittens. Females have difficulties rearing kittens.

Common Health Problems Overall, the Sphynx is a fairly hardy breed, though it is susceptible to weather-induced ailments, such as skin cancer. It also needs to be kept out of extreme weather, and provided shade when outdoors and a coat when the temperatures are a bit chilly.

Availability Though this is a rare breed, breeders are easily located on the internet. Typical Sphynx kittens are generally priced at $1000-$1500. However, prices can range as low as $600 for an adult pet quality Sphynx to $3000 for a breeding quality, certified Sphynx.

References

Author: Ruth Bratcher
Lastest Animal Stories on Sphynx Cats

Theresa Pratt - 2012-04-16
i have a male sphinx 1 yr old the lady that I purchased him from told me the mom didn't feed them so she syringe feed the 5 of them. When I got him home he was very cuddley he wanted to go my neck and suck on it every morning. At 4:30 am he would start this. He's gotton better as far as its not at 4:30 am but he still want to do this and he wants the left side of my neck. He will come and paw at my back making this little cry noise so I decieded I wasnt going to roll over I just wanted to sleep. Boy that's not what happened. My cat wanted to the end of the bed and glared at me and then lunged into my face. I threw my arm up and took the bite on my arm four puctures and claw marks this has happen about 6 times and each time its becauce I made him mad and every time he would bite and leave puntures from his fange teeth. How can I stop him. I've tried hitting with my pillow yelling no he a great little guy and very loving hope someone can help thanks theresa

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-04-16
    Sphinx cats have some really peculiar and odd little traits although attacking a person I have never heard. Jumping - big time and attention and play yes but not attacking. I'd have him sleep in a different room where the kitty kitter is located. Put a kitty bed in the laudry room or bathroom along with the litter and let him sleep in there. Hopefull in a couple of weeks - he forgets about the neck and the game he probably think you are playing.
  • the cat god - 2013-10-07
    Okay you probably need to figure this out cause its weird..... maybe your cat wants the sexuals.
  • fran - 2014-02-27
    Keep your house cold and get a small electric heater, he will stay by that or try biting him back.
Reply
Greggi - 2012-02-05
My fried thinks these cats are UGLY! I don't think so but could someone tell me if they are ugly or are-not ugly please? thanks to bits,
your admiring and dumb, animal loving guy, GREGGI the GREAT!!!!!!!!

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-02-06
    I know these cats are not ugly but they are definitely unusual looking. They have a very loving temperment and a regal nature. They are so warm and they are curious and into just about everything and they love their humans. I think this is a great breed and am just crazy about them. I love their funny little meow and they are so expressive. Unusual looking yes - ugly - no way.
  • Ellen - 2012-02-06
    NO ANIMALS ARE UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply
Theresa Pratt - 2012-04-16
Oh p.s. each time the attack was over him wanting my neck and I didnt roll over.

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-04-16
    They are stubborn - let him sleep in another room until he forgets the game the two of you have gotten yourselves into. Just try it.
Reply
JU - 2007-09-23
I had an American shorthair growing up and a Ragdoll, but Sphynxs are the best cat for me. I adopted a retired breeding female (who had no trouble rearing her kittens). She is loving and affectionate. She never bites or scratches. When mad she growls and smacks with her claws in their sheaths. She is 12 years old and in good health. In 4 years she's needed vet attention once because of a poisoning, otherwise no problems. She likes to walk on a leash and travel on my shoulder or hiding in a handbag. Though I can't sneak her in anywhere as she purrs like a motorboat. I love her very much and hope to one day adopt another retired breeder or show cat. For individualised attention and love.

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