Once you get to know a hairless cat, you'll likely learn that personality counts more than classic good looks. Yes, their particular aesthetic may seem like the stuff of nightmares—think walking brains with big eyes, sharp cheekbones, and bat-like ears, or E.T. if he strutted around with a grumpy expression—but hairless cats can make your heart melt. Naked and wrinkly though they might be, these felines brim with confidence and are regular participants in beauty pageants. They're rarer than other domestic cats and are thus expensive, but if you want to fly in the face of convention, it's money well-spent.
There are more hairless cat breeds than just the sphynx and five relatively common ones. They differ in significant ways. Some are smooth to the touch, and others feel almost like suede.
Cats have a long history spanning millennia, and hairless cats show up in many accounts of yore. But sphynx cats are recent additions to the pantheon. They're from Canada and not Egypt, as their name suggests, and sphynx history involves in-breeding. The first sphynx cat emerged in Toronto in 1966. A shorthair queen gave birth to a hairless kitten called Prune, and the two were mated to produce another hairless wonder. The hairlessness was due to a recessive gene, and initial breeders thought the trait might help those with severe allergies. The Donskoy's lack of protective fur, on the other hand, is due to a dominant gene.
Sphynx cats shed dander, but not to the same degree as other cats. Still, it's not always the cat hair that's the issue for allergy sufferers—it's the Fel d 1 allergen on the skin and in saliva that poses problems. And, of course, hairless cats have both of those and skin oils that present additional challenges.
Here's the thing about partial or complete baldness—it highlights the skin big time. You'll find sphynx cats with different skin tones and patterns, including tortoiseshell skin. Some have skin disorders, including dry skin. Hairless cats often have sensitive skin, so they're best kept indoors at all times. If you take one outside, protect its outermost layer with clothing and sun protection. Ask your vet about cat-safe sunscreen options for window sunbathing or find or custom-make a light coat for warm weather. A hat with a visor is handy, too.
Without hair and the insulation it provides, these creatures get cold, and they can use help staying warm and comfortable. When it gets nippy, you'll need a sweater that fits well without impeding movement, even if your hairless cat hangs out inside your home. The sweater should extend to where the tail begins. Be aware of signs that your cat may be too hot. For example, it might pant or tug at the garment. A heat lamp may be a viable alternative.
They have big appetites and are often hungry, so stock your pantry with cat food and backups for emergencies. Ukrainian Levkoys get loud when it's mealtimes, and Peterbalds need more chow than their furry counterparts. The phenomenon all comes down to a faster metabolism and the need for high-quality grub to fuel an active lifestyle.
Hairless cats make excellent show animals because they require diligent grooming, even without being floof balls. Sans fur to absorb oil on the skin, bathing is a must, and hairless cats need baths every one or two weeks to manage oil production and prevent dust and dirt from accumulating. In the absence of a bath, skin irritations can develop. These animals can also leave sweat stains on your furniture and linen so wiping underarms and ears, for example, is essential in between baths.
Hollywood has given black cats and cats without topcoats a bad wrap. They represent the wacky and dangerous, and Mr. Bigglesworth from the Austin Powers movie franchise exemplifies this villainous stereotype, as do Si and Am from The Lady and the Tramp. More recently, the animated film The Secret Life of Pets unfairly featured another evil sphynx.
While sphynx cats might look like weird aliens, they're bundles of joy. The Canadian sphynx occupies an impressive spot on the Cat Fanciers' Association list of the most popular cat breeds globally, and that's because they're affectionate and extroverted. Sphynx cats are energetic, intelligent, and enjoy socializing. They're made for cuddles with a higher body temperature than other cats.
The sphynx is muscular and heavier than it seems. It often has a potbelly unrelated to obesity, but you should check with a healthcare professional if you're concerned about your cat's weight. This cat's strength and sturdiness enable it to balance, bound, and generally show off. Don't be surprised if your shoulder is one of your kitty's favorite spots.
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