The Donskoy cat is being recognized as the first truly hairless breed. Its origin traces back to the year 1987, in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, where one of its kind was being bullied by some boys. Fortunately, Elena Kovaleva, a professor, rescued the cat and adopted it. Kovaleva named the cat Vavara and it was not long before she realized that Vavara was losing her fur. She got worried and brought it to treatments, but none of the treatments managed to bring back Vavara’s fur. Vavara, later gave birth to a litter of kittens that was made up of both furred and hairless kittens. However, those furred kittens began losing their fur around the same age when Vavara were losing hers. This interesting phenomenon caught the attention of a breeder named Irina Nemikina. Nemikina acquired one of the kittens that served as the foundation of a new breed called the Don Sphynx. It was so named to reflect the place of origin where Vavara was found, i.e., near the river Don; as well as the hairlessness of the Sphynx cats. Nemikina started her own breeding programme and bred the Don Sphynx with other long-haired and short-haired cats. The kittens that resulted were always almost completely hairless no matter the hair length of the cat with which the Don Sphynx was bred. It was then concluded that the baldness of Don Sphynx was caused by a mutation that was governed by a dominant gene. This breed received recognition by the World Cat Federation (WCF) in 1997. It acquired its new name, Donskoy, after its recognition by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2005.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium sized cat that weighs between 6 – 12 pounds. Donskoy has a body of medium length with well-rounded chest and abdomen. The roundness of its abdomen is formed the fat accumulated to keep itself warm. The shoulders and hip are broad; and its entire body displays considerably good musculature and sturdiness. It has legs that are proportionate to its body, with the hind legs being longer than the front legs. They extend into oval paws with prominently long, slender toes. The paws resemble the monkey fingers as the thumbs bend inward rather than downward, and the toes are separated by webs of skin. This webbing, combined with the fact that it is hairless, gives the paws a staggering appearance. Extending from the rump is a whippy-like tail that is of a medium – long length.
Donskoy has a wedge shaped head that is supported by a thick round neck. It has well-developed, strong jaw and chin as well as prominent cheekbones and whisker pads. Set atop the head is a pair of large and upright ears. They taper into a rounded tip and are tilted slightly forward. Viewed in profile, the forehead appears flat and the muzzle is slightly rounded. Whiskers may appear sparse and can come is varying lengths; they may however be absent as well.
Donskoy is a hairless cat, but it can also come in 4 different coat types, namely, brush, velour, flocked and rubber bald. The coat can come in any coat color. The brush coat is not considered of show quality but is permissible for breeding for pet quality. Its entire body is covered with hair that is wavy or wiry and is soft and bristly. Bald patches may be apparent on the head, upper part of the neck and the back. Donskoy with velour coat has wavy hair covering its body and usually a bald patch on the top of its head. Its wavy coat would gradually disappear, but some hair may still remain on the face, legs and tail. The flocked coat is similar to the look and feel of chamois. Donskoy with this coat has very short and fine hair, making it appear hairless. The hair may, however drop off, leaving the cat bald. Rubber bald refers to Donskoy that is born bald and would remain bald throughout its life; this is considered the ideal ‘hair coat’ for the Donskoy.
Personality and temperament
Despite its seemingly unapproachable appearance, the Donskoy is a considerably gentle, good-natured and affectionate breed. It is highly intelligent and incessantly curious, capable of responding to voice commands and to perform tricks. This is a friendly breed marked by its sociable nature. Highly active, it shows a keen interest in its surroundings as well as its games. Donskoy is an affectionate breed that shows great loyalty to its owner and family. It loves to be handled and would unlikely object to its grooming routine.
Care and health concerns
Donskoy is a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 years. There are no hereditary health issues, but it is still important to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders when purchasing the breed. This is to ensure that it is no contracted with other common feline diseases.
Grooming and maintaining the health of the Donskoy is not effortless. As it is prone to tooth decay and gum disease, frequent teeth brushing with vet approved toothpaste is necessary. Due to its hairlessness, the Donskoy would require sun block when going outdoors and extra warmth during winter. The body oil builds up on the skin and attracts dirt, thus, a weekly bath would be recommended. This is not just for the body, but cleaning the ears, nose and nail beds are also necessary to keep the Donskoy clean and healthy.
The ideal family
Considering its hairless trait and thus its sensitivity to extreme heat and cold, it is preferable to keep the Donskoy as an indoor cat. To encourage an active and growth and to prevent boredom, create an indoor adventure zone for it to play. Equip the playing area with cat toys, cat trees and cat gym sets. With its high intelligence, providing it with puzzle games and putting it to undergo trick training can be considered too. If the home has a safe and escape-proof outdoor garden, letting the Donskoy out for an hour or two during sunrise and sunset period would be best for it to expend its energy in a fun and healthy environment. Donskoy loves companionship and is able to get along well with children and other friendly pets. With its high level of affections and lovingness, the Donskoy is certainly an ideal pet for any homes that are willing to give the time and energy to love and care for it.