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Everything you need to know about: Sphynx Cats

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
9th Dec 2022
5 mins read
This header image shows a Sphynx cat sitting on a plain blue background
Summary
The Sphynx Cat, also known as the Canadian Sphynx, is a friendly and furless feline. However, their hairless appearance can create some unique care needs.

Key Stats

Height
20-25.5cm
Weight
3-6kg
Size
Medium
Lifespan
10 to 15 years
Coat
None or downy
Exercise
30 mins daily
Grooming
Weekly
Temper
Social, affectionate, smart

Breed history

Like many cat breeds, the Sphynx is a fairly modern invention. Breeders and cat fanciers began breeding Sphynx cats in the 1960s. 
Their hairless appearance was the result of a natural mutation in a handful of cats in America and Canada. And both the American and European lines of Sphynx cats can trace their lineage back to five cats called Dermis, Epidermis, Bambi, Punkie, and Paloma. 
Most modern Sphynx cats allegedly have a few other breeds in their ancestry, including the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex.
The photo shows Loki & Sylvie, a pair of Sphynx cats insured with Napo

Meet Loki & Sylvie the Sphynx cats

This beautiful pair of Sphynxes are Loki and Sylvie. We're thrilled to have them in the Napo family! You can follow them on Instagram at @lokisylviesphynxvariant 💙

Appearance 

Sphynx cats are unlike most moggies you would see in the street, thanks to their hairless appearance. 
Although they look bald, these cats actually have a coat of very fine, downy fur. It's so short and thin, it’s basically invisible. It does make them super soft to the touch though, and the feel of their skin has been compared to chamois leather or peach fuzz!
As well as their bald bodies, Sphynx cats have noticeable wrinkles on their heads, back, and legs. They aren’t actually any more (or less) wrinkly than a furry cat, it’s just their wrinkles are obvious since they don’t have any hair hiding them.

Do Sphynx cats have whiskers?

Nope, most Sphynx cats don’t have whiskers. This is another reason why this breed is so unique.
We say most because a few Sphynx can grow very short or broken whiskers, however these often fall out. Sphynx cats also don’t have visible eyelashes.

Sphynx cat colours

Despite their lack of fur, the Sphynx has no shortage of colours and coat patterns. In fact, you can find them in almost every colour and pattern imaginable.
Their breed standard
says that “all colours and patterns, in any combination” are fine with these furless felines!
There’s too many possible Sphynx cat colours for us to list them all. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of the colours your Sphynx could be.
  • White
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Cream
  • Chocolate
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Fawn
  • Champagne
  • Platinum
  • Tortoiseshell
  • Calico
  • Mink
  • Sable
  • Tabby (various colours!)
  • Pointed (various colours!)
The photo shows a Sphynx cat sleeping on the arm of a brown leather sofa

Temperament 

If you’re looking for a loving and affectionate feline to join your family, a Sphynx could be the “pawfect” choice. The Sphynx cat temperament is sociable and affectionate. So they’re super cuddly cats, despite the lack of fur!
They’re also very intelligent. This combined with their social nature means they will often follow you around to see what you’re doing.
The smart and loving Sphynx temperament also makes them active, playful pets. In fact, they’ve often been described as impish or elf-like!

How much exercise does a Sphynx cat need?

We don’t often think about exercising our cats, since don’t need to walk them like a dog. However, playing with your cat will help to keep them fit and healthy, provides active enrichment, and can help you to bond.
Playtime and enrichment is really important for a Sphynx, as they are an active breed and thrive on human company. You can try
these games and enrichment ideas
to keep your cat busy, and try to schedule 15 to 30 minutes playtime every day. (Which you can break up into a few short bursts.)

How to groom a Sphynx cat

You might think a Sphynx cat would have no grooming needs since they have no fur, but they do still need regular “grooming”. Albeit, in a different way to most moggies.
You won’t need to brush your Sphynx, given their lack of hair. However, they do need weekly or bi-weekly baths to keep their skin clean. Regular baths help to clear away any built-up dirt, bacteria, and excess body oils. 
Bathing your Sphynx also gives you a good opportunity to check them for cuts, scratches, bruises, and scrapes. Since they have no fur coat to protect their skin, they can get hurt a little more easily.
The photo shows a Sphynx kitten lying on an orange chair, looking at the camera

Common Sphynx cat health problems

Yeast infections

Since they don’t have fur, yeast infections are a common Sphynx cat health problem. Regularly bathing your Sphynx will keep their skin clean and healthy, and help to prevent infections caused by yeast or bacteria.

Sunburn

Because a Sphynx cat doesn’t have a fur coat, they’re vulnerable to UV rays. This means they’re at risk of sunburn and skin cancer. To keep your Sphynx
protected in sunny weather
, you’ll need to cover them in pet-safe suncream when they go outside.

Heart disease

Sphynx cats can inherit a condition called “Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy” or HCM. This kind of heart disease causes the muscle in their hearts to thicken, and means the heart can’t pump as effectively as normal. When getting a Sphynx, find a breeder who routinely screens their parent cats for HCM.

Muscle weakness

Sphynx cats can inherit a condition called “Devon Rex myopathy” which causes muscle weakness. Cats should be screened for the condition before being bred.

Frequently asked questions about Sphynx Cats

Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?

No, Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic. Although they don’t shed fur, they still shed dander which is a common allergen. Cat saliva is another common cause of allergies, and Sphynx’s produce this too, the same as any other cat.
However, as they have no fur, some people with allergies may find them easier to live with. It depends on your sensitivities.

Can Sphynx cats go outside?

Sphynx cats can go outside, but you must keep in mind that they have no fur to protect them from the elements, or from scratches, bruises, and scrapes.

Are Sphynx cats friendly?

Yes, Sphynx cats are very friendly cats. In fact, their breed standard notes that they’re
extremely
friendly!
These cats are really sociable and love to follow their humans around and get involved with whatever they’re doing. They’re also pretty cuddly, and are more than happy to snuggle up with you.You might find it’s harder to spend some time without them!

Are Sphynx cats good family pets?

Sphynx cats can be good family pets, thanks to their friendly nature and loving, playful personality.
However because they have no fur, they can be injured quite easily so everyone in your house should be taught about how to handle them safely.

Do Sphynx cats need jumpers?

Sphynx cats are vulnerable to the cold since they haven’t got a cosy fur coat of their own. So a jumper could help to keep them warm and protect their skin.
But bear in mind that most cats won’t be happy about being wrestled into a jumper or another form of clothing, including Sphynxes.

Do Sphynx cats smell?

Sphynx cats can have a bit of a reputation for smelling, and even when they’re clean they can an unusual earthy smell.
Sphynx cats can smell when they’re in need of a bath, since any bacteria, yeast, and bacteria can build up on their skin.
If your Sphynx is starting to smell, give them a gentle wipe with a wet cloth, or give them bath to freshen them up.

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