Sphynx at a Glance
Known for its hairless coat, the Sphynx cat loves attention and draws it wherever they go. They are available in a variety of colors and patterns and will entertain themselves and their humans for hours with their inquisitive, intelligent, and extremely friendly personality. Sphynx are loyal and dedicated to their owners and make very affectionate companions for everyone. Find out more about this breed and if a Sphynx is right for you and your family.
- Temperament: Affectionate, Outgoing, Dependent
- Height/Weight Range: Medium-sized cat weighing 6 to 12 pounds
- Kittens: 4-6 pounds when ready to leave for new homes at 16 weeks.
- Adult females: 7-10 pounds
- Adult males: 8-14 pounds
- Colors: The Sphynx breed is available in a variety of colors and patterns.
- Life Expectancy: 15+ years
About the Sphynx
The Sphynx is one of a few hairless breeds. Striking and distinctive in appearance, they do not lack hair entirely. Fine down covers the skin of most Sphynx cats, giving the skin a chamois or suede-like texture. Light hair is usually visible on the nose and backs of the ears.
They are an inquisitive, intelligent, and extremely friendly breed. Warm and soft to the touch, Sphynx frequently sleep with their owners under the covers. The term "Velcro lap cat" is often used to describe their desire to be with their owners all the time.
Sphynx love to greet every new person visiting the home, and most get along well with dogs, children and other pets. They are loyal and dedicated to their owners and make very affectionate companions for everyone.
Sphynx are alert, agile, highly active cats. Their lively antics are a constant source of entertainment for their owners, who refer to them as being “elf-like.”
Kittens and young adults are quite playful and goofy and will entertain themselves for hours on end. Their long dexterous toes make them skilled at opening doors, cupboards and anything else that sparks their curious nature. They have been known to play a game of fetch or chase.
Mature Sphynx are extremely affectionate and are equally content cuddled up in your arms for hours, or playing with children and other animals. They are family cats to their core as they share an immense love with all family members, both animal and human.
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Despite their apparent lack of hair, it is important to groom a Sphynx regularly. Most breeders train their kittens to accept regular cleaning, so professional grooming is not necessary.
Sphynx cats should be bathed regularly, however one of the biggest misconceptions of the breed is that they need to be washed weekly. Over bathing can actually disrupt the natural PH balance of the skin, causing an over production of sebum to self-regulate. Bathing with a natural, gentle shampoo every few months to remove the build-up of body oils is sufficient to keep the skin healthy and the furniture clean.
Special care should also be taken to protect them from sunburn and skin damage, as well as from cold temperatures.
Like any cat, the Sphynx also needs weekly nail trimming, eye cleaning, and dental care. Their ears lack hair, so wax build-up needs to be cleaned out gently each week. Brush their teeth with a pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Due to their high metabolism, high-quality food is extremely important. They have hearty appetites and have a higher daily caloric intake then the average coated cat. Being so food driven, it is important to always keep an eye on their weight, but keep in mind this breed is not a dainty or delicate one. Their round bellies and pear-shaped bodies are a part of their charm. Feed them two to three times a day on a regular schedule, and as with all cats, it is important to give your cat fresh, clean water daily so they don’t hesitate to drink.
Sphynx cats are generally a very robust and healthy breed but, as with all cats, they are at risk for the most common heart disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This is a genetic disease that can result in heart failure and death, so it is of paramount importance that breeders diligently screen for this via echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) performed by a Veterinary Cardiologist. Because HCM doesn’t always show up in the first years of life, it is important for pet owners to proactively screen for this disease as well.
The Sphynx traces its beginnings back to Ontario, Canada. Not quite the climate you would expect for this hairless breed. First attempts at breeding Sphynx cats began in 1966, when a black and white cat gave birth to a hairless kitten named Prune, due to the wrinkled hairless skin. Prune was bred to other cats in an attempt to create more hairless kittens. Because hairlessness is a recessive gene, some of the kittens resulting from this union had hair, while others did not. These kittens were called Canadian Hairless Cats, which some people referred to as Sphynx cats, due to their physical similarities with an ancient Egyptian cat sculpture called the Sphinx. Breeders continued to breed hairless cats with haired cats, like the Devon Rex, until a strong breed of the Sphynx was created in the late 1970s. TICA has recognized this breed for over 20 years and there are now several thousand Sphynx registered in the world.
The Donskoy is another breed that sometimes appears to be hairless. However, while many people often confuse them with Sphynx, they share no relation and each have a different mutation for their hairless trait.
Did You Know?
How did the Sphynx get its name? Yes, you guessed it. They are named after the Sphinx, the famous Egyptian monument featuring the mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion.
Sphynx cats aren’t actually bald or rough to the touch as their wrinkly exterior might appear. Those who pet a Sphynx know that they’re not actually hairless. They are covered with a fine layer of downy fuzz that has a soft, suede-like feel. And though the nude colored Sphynx may be the one you're most accustomed to seeing, Sphynx cats come in a variety of colors and patterns, including tabby.
Sphynx cats aren’t hypoallergenic. Many people want to get a Sphynx cat because they believe their lack of fur makes them hypoallergenic. However, that's not true. The most common cat allergen is a protein called Fel D1 that is secreted through saliva and skin, and is as natural to a Sphynx as it is to a domestic shorthair.
Sphynx cats make great therapy cats. Move over dogs, the Sphynx’ outgoing and overly-affectionate nature make them a great candidate for Animal Assisted Therapy. Volunteering with your cat as a Therapy Team is a rewarding way to make a difference in the lives of hospital patients, nursing home residents and even neighbors who aren’t as mobile anymore. The Sphynx friendly, patient, confident and gentle demeanor brings happiness and comfort to those in need. TICA is one of the only cat associations that promote and honor cats contributing in Animal Assisted Therapy work. Click here to find out more about TICA Therapy Cats.
The Breed Standard
The Sphynx appears to be a hairless cat, although it is not truly hairless. The skin should have the texture of chamois. It may be covered with very fine down which is almost imperceptible to both the eye and the touch. On the ears, muzzle, tail, feet and scrotum, short, soft, fine hair is allowed. Lack of coat makes the cat quite warm to the touch. Whiskers and eyebrows may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent. The cat should not be small or dainty. Males may be up to 25 percent larger so long as proper proportions are maintained. The Sphynx is sweet-tempered, lively, intelligent and above all amenable to handling.
Click here to read the full TICA Sphynx Breed Standard.
Accepted For Championship in TICA in 1979
- Sphynx Breed At A Glance
- Breed Introduction
- Sphynx Breeders
- Breed Standards
- Breed Committee
- Breed Seminar