Cat Breed Profile: Sphynx

The Sphynx is known for looking hairless and wrinkled, but is also affectionate and loves animals and people. Read more in our Sphynx cat breed profile.   Read More

Sphynx cat breed profile
Sphynx cat breed profile: This cat breed appears bald and wrinkled, but it does have fine hair on its body.



Physical Description

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. The average lifespan of a Sphynx is 20 years.


Stories of hairless cats have come from around the world and date back centuries. This particular breed began in 1966 when a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless cat in Ontario, Canada. The kitten was named Prune for its bald and wrinkled appearance and 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 Sphinx. Hairless cats were also discovered in the late 1970s in Canada and in Minnesota.


The Sphynx cat breed is sweet, intelligent, friendly and inquisitive.  They like to be around people often, hence the nickname “Velcro cat” or “lap cat” as they are commonly referred. It is 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.

Exercise Needs

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; this could be a sign of a health issue.

Sphynx cats should not be allowed 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 laying in a sunny window.

Grooming Requirements

The absence of hair causes the skin to get oily. Sphynx cats need to be bathed regularly – more than other breeds. They must be rinsed thoroughly since any remaining residue will cause skin irritation. The fine hair called down does not require brushing.

This Sphynx seems to enjoy bath time:

Trim the cat’s nails as needed (usually once every week to two weeks) and clean the ears and teeth to promote good overall health. Declawing is not recommended.

The Sphynx is not hypo-allergenic. The skin is where the pet dander comes from, so the absence of hair is irrelevant. People with allergies may be able to tolerate the Sphynx while more severe allergy sufferers cannot.

Common Health Problems

The Sphynx breed is robust and healthy with little, if any, health problems. Their large eyes can be prone to irritation or infection, and be sure to use a litter with minimal to no dust to reduce this possibility. The cats have a faster metabolism than other breeds and will consume more food than usual.

Is the Sphynx the Right Cat for You?

This breed will definitely turn some heads because of its appearance. Sphynx cats are friendly and get along well with other pets and strangers. They are not suited for outdoors because of their fine hair. They are most comfortable in a home around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They might snuggle under the covers with you if they are cold.

The Sphynx does need regular bathing. Rest assured they have been acclimated to this as kittens so it won’t be the scratchfest you imagine. The cats are also active and can entertain themselves, but they also like to welcome new people. If you’re looking for an affectionate and fun addition to the family that will get along with everyone, the Sphynx might be the perfect cat for you.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a Sphynx for your next pet, please check adoption resources — even purebred animals end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoption page. (Select the “Cats” tab.)

Additional Resources

Photo: Sunfox/Flickr


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