The Sphynx breed is considered one of the rarest breed and is probably well known for its hairless trait. It is the only breed that originated in Canada. Compared to dogs and other domestic pets, the Sphynx cat is a very recent breed. This breed is created by Mother Nature in 1966 from a domestic cat that gave birth to a hairless kitten in Toronto, Canada. It was later discovered to be a natural mutation and the Sphynx was then bred to be the first hairless breed. Cat breeders have bred the Sphynx with normal coated cats and then back to hairless for more than 30 years. This has helped to generate a larger gene pool of good hybrid vigor for the breed and has also led to it to be a genetically sound cat.
From the efforts of dedicated fanciers and breeders, the Sphynx breed has earned the championship status in all of North American cat associations. It is also being recognized by cat registries in Europe and Australia. While this breed might not be suited for everyone, the Sphynx’s unique appearance and charming personality have won itself a group of active and enthusiastic followers.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium sized cat with the males weighing 8 – 12 pounds and females weighing 6 – 9 pounds. The torso is medium to long in length with a slightly barrel-like chest. Its abdomen is well-rounded which makes it appear as if it had eaten a full meal. The well-muscled legs are of medium boning and are in good proportion to its body. Hind legs are slightly longer to its forelegs, which are wide set. They extend well into a medium sized paws that are oval in shape and thickly padded. It has prominent toes that are long and slender. Completing the look is a whippy, rat-like tail that is in proportion to its body. Lion-like tail with a puff of hair on the tip may occur in some Sphynx cats.
Head of Sphynx is medium in size and of a modified wedge. It appears slightly longer than wide with rounded contours from all angles. A slender, long neck carries the head. Viewed in profile the forehead appears vaguely flat and a slight rise of the brow bone is evident. Cheeks are prominent and lead into a strong, rounded muzzle with distinct whisker break and a firm chin. Ears of Sphynx are strikingly large with an upright stance. They are broad and open at the base. Small amount of hair may appear on the back or lower outer edges of the ears. The eyes are wide-set, large and lemon in shape. Outer corners display a slight upward slant towards the outer corners of the ears.
Even though the Sphynx is a hairless breed, the degree of hairlessness varies. Some are actually covered with a fine down that gives the skin a chamois or suede-like texture, or even the texture of a peach skin. Thus, resistance may be felt when stroking the cat. Wrinkles on the skin are pronounced, but not to the extent that it will impede the normal functions of the cat. It comes in a variety of colors such as black, chocolate, lavender, red, white; and patterns which include bicolor, calico, mink, pointed, various tabby pattern and tortoiseshell. These appear as pigments on the skin and on the hair that the cat might have.
Personality and temperament
The Sphynx is one breed that has been described to possess a combination of diverse temperaments. Besides having traits of a cat, it has also been known to display traits of a monkey, a dog, a child, a hog and even a bat due to their stunning large ears. Such traits are evident from how it would enjoy hanging upside-down from its cat trees or leaping onto any high perches. It has a big and healthy appetite that is unlike most other cat breeds.
Playing hide-and-seek is probably one of its favorite games. However, nothing would beat being around its favorite people for its love of attention. It has a strong personality that possesses a mind, but would also pour out its affections and loyalty to the one who would shower it with love and attention.
Its paws become powerful and effective tools under the guidance of its intelligence and curiosity. The long toes allow the cat to have a better grip on the things around and it uses them to run through the contents in drawers, bags and whatever it can lay its paws on. This breed also has the propensity to look for comfy places in order to keep warm; making snuggles and cuddles as part of its favorite activities.
Care and health issues
A healthy Sphynx cat can live up to 15 years or above. However, like other cats, there are also a few health issues that may develop in this breed. These include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is a hereditary heart disease that would thicken the heart muscles that could lead to death.
Urticaria pigmentosa, a type of skin diseases that cause crusty sores on the body, has also been seen in this breed before. It is important to obtain a written health guarantee from a qualified breeder when purchasing the cat. This ensures that the cat has been bred away from genetics or other common cat diseases, though precautions would still need to be undertaken thereafter.
Even though the Sphynx is hairless, grooming actually requires more effort than other cats with a coat of hair. The body becomes oily and would require a weekly bath, to not just prevent clogged pores, but also to prevent greasy spots on your furniture. A gentle baby shampoo or moisturizing shampoo should help to do a good job. Make sure that it is washed thoroughly, especially in between folds of wrinkles. You can also use baby wipes to keep them clean in between baths. The large ears and paws may develop a waxy build up that would require gentle cleansing whenever necessary. The teeth would also need to be brushed frequently to prevent periodontal disease.
The ideal home
The Sphynx is sensitive to changes in temperatures and is best suited for indoor living. When it is allowed outdoors, make sure that it is for a limited amount of time and that it is well-protected from the sun by using an approved sun block. Outdoor spaces need to be escaped-proof and safe.
Companionship is necessary for the Sphynx, thus the family would need to be prepared to set aside adequate time for it. Sphynx can get along well with children and other cat-friendly dogs, but would also require the family to be loving, patient and committed. This is one breed that would not fail to provide the family with the most unique experience they would ever have with any other cats.