5 Things to Know About Sphynx Cats

This affectionate and playful hairless breed will definitely turn some heads.

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 6–12 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 20 years

This medium-sized cat appears bald and wrinkled.

The Sphynx has fine hair — called “down” — that makes the warm, soft skin feel like a leather chamois.

The cat is muscular and athletic, with a wedge-shaped head, large ears and lemon-shaped large eyes. The breed is considered rare.

2. Where They Came From

This breed began in 1966 when a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless cat in Ontario, Canada.

The kitten, named Prune, was later crossed with other cats to create more hairless kittens. The gene that caused the initial mutation was recessive, so some offspring were born with hair while others were not.

People referred to the cats as Canadian Hairless cats or Sphynx cats for their resemblance to the Egyptian cat sculpture named the Great Sphinx of Giza.

Hairless cats were also discovered in the late 1970s in Canada and in Minnesota.

Sphynx cats are known for their affectionate disposition. No, really. By: Liliia Rudchenko (Top: Nikolay Pozdeev)

3. How Friendly Are They?

The Sphynx is sweet, intelligent, friendly and inquisitive.

They like to be around people often, hence their nicknames “Velcro cat” and “lap cat.”

They are most comfortable in a home around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not unusual for the cat to sleep under the covers with you. The Sphynx is loyal, dedicated and highly accepting of other pets and new people.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

Low

LOW: Sphynx cats are active and can entertain themselves for hours. Some of them have been known to fetch.

Their physical activity should be similar to that of most cats (sleeping long hours, playing, running and jumping). Contact your veterinarian if you notice a decrease in activity or mobility, which could be a sign of a health issue.

Don’t allow your Sphynx outside. They get cold faster than other cats and can be easily sunburned.

When inside, they will seek out warmth when needed, usually by curling up with you or another animal or lounging in a sunny window.

Grooming Needs

Low

LOW: The absence of hair causes the skin to get oily. Sphynx cats need to be bathed regularly, more than other breeds.

Rest assured they have been acclimated to this as kittens, so it won’t be the scratchfest you might imagine. They must be rinsed thoroughly; any remaining residue will cause skin irritation. The down does not require brushing.

Trim the cat’s nails as needed (usually once every 1–2 weeks), and clean the ears and teeth to promote good overall health.

The Sphynx is not hypoallergenic. The skin is where the pet dander comes from, so the absence of hair is irrelevant.

Health Problems

Low

LOW: The Sphynx breed is robust and healthy with few, if any, health problems.

Their large eyes can be prone to irritation or infection, so be sure to use a litter with minimal dust to reduce this possibility.

These cats have a faster metabolism than other breeds and will consume more food than usual.

This inquisitive Sphynx seems to enjoy bath time:

5. Where to Adopt One

If you consider getting a Sphynx for your next pet, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals end up in shelters.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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