The Hairless Sphynx Cat: What to Know

The Sphynx cat is known for its striking appearance - these cats are almost entirely hairless! Sphynx cats are also famous for their affectionate natures and outgoing personalities.

Jun 20, 2024byKatie Wickliff

the sphynx cat what to know

The Sphynx cat is a loving and affectionate cat breed, filled with energy and curiosity. Their serious expression is a sharp contrast to their extremely playful attitude. They love to entertain their human family members with silly antics but will pause the games for a cuddle on their favorite person’s lap. Read on to learn all about this unique hairless cat.

This Hairless Breed Hails from Canada

Cat Sphynx. Kitten
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

•Adult Height: 8-10 inches

•Adult Length: 13-15 inches

•Adult Weight: 6-13 pounds

•Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

•Coat Length: hairless to extra short; slight “peach fuzz”

•Coat Texture: suede

•Affection Level: high

•Shedding: no

•Origin: Canada

Characteristics of the Sphynx Cat: Affectionate and Curious

cat gazing to the left
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Sphynx cat is a muscular, medium sized cat with an angular head and tall, pointed ears. They are almost entirely hairless, with coats that range from a slight fuzz to completely bald. These cats have skin pigment in a variety of colors and patterns, such as solid colors (like black, white, and gray) or patterns (like calico, tortoiseshell, and tabby). They’re considered a unique cat breed.

Because of their unusual appearance, the Sphynx cat can seem strange and even off-putting to those unfamiliar with the breed. However, these cats make excellent pets for the right owners. Sphynx cats are very affectionate and curious about everything. They crave companionship and will often follow their favorite humans from room to room, eager to participate in family life.

cat on cat tree
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Sphynx is also extremely playful and loves to entertain, so they can easily learn new tricks. They do well with children and other household pets who want to play with them. In fact, some people consider the Sphynx a dog-like cat breed!

As a break from all the antics, the Sphynx cat welcomes a warm lap to cuddle up for a snooze. Some hypothesize that hairless cats are more affectionate because they rely on humans to keep them warm.

Because they desire companionship, these cats don’t do well in homes where they’re left alone too often. They are incredibly smart, and without proper attention and stimulation, can become unhappy and destructive.

Sphynx cats are very chatty. These cats might meow for many reasons, such as to get your attention, demand more food, or just to say “hi.”

Caring for the Sphynx Cat: Health/Grooming Considerations

hairless cat reclining
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Sphynx cat is a generally healthy pet with few medical issues. Some concerns for this breed include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most prevalent form of heart disease in cats, and hereditary myopathy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle function. Unfortunately, hereditary myopathy is fatal, but Sphynx breeders are working to eradicate it from the breed. If you have health concerns about your cat, a veterinarian is the best source of information and support.

Because the Sphynx is hairless, you might assume that these cats require little grooming attention. However, they actually require a great deal of grooming—precisely because they arehairless! Yes, they groom themselves like other cats, but their unique skin folds make it hard for them to get properly clean. Their skin also tends to get oily, because they lack the hair to pull the oil away from the skin. Therefore, a Sphynx cat requires a weekly bath with special shampoo.

cat playing with toy
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sphynx cats also require frequent ear cleanings, as their excess oil causes a buildup of earwax. If not properly treated, too much earwax can damage your cat’s ear canal. Nail care is one area where the Sphynx cat is a bit lower maintenance. Since this breed is so physically active, their nails stay naturally “filed” for a longer period.

Sphynx cats have a large appetite and a fast metabolism. Because of this, they require a high calorie diet. Enough calories from high quality cat food will ensure your Sphynx stays satiated and maintains their body temperature. Ask your veterinarian about what food is best for your cat. Also, be sure to ask how you can prevent feline obesity. A Sphynx cat thrives at a healthy weight.

History of the Sphynx Cat

hairless cat wtih ring tail
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

While hairless cat breeds have been around for centuries, the Sphynx breed originates from Toronto, Canada. In 1966, a domestic shorthair cat gave birth to a litter of kittens, one of whom was hairless. After determining the hairlessness was a result of a natural gene mutation, this kitten became the foundation for a new hairless breed. Over the past several decades, breeders have carefully developed this cat into the modern Sphynx.

Originally called the Canadian Hairless, this breed was eventually renamed as a nod to the ancient Egyptian Sphinx god. With their wide set eyes and regal expressions, these cats look like the famous Egyptian statue.

Fun Facts About the Sphynx Cat

cat against a furry background
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are so many things to love and know about these unique cats! Some fun facts include:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the Sphynx is not a hypoallergenic cat, and therefore not a good pet for people with allergies. Although their hairlessness prevents the allergen from being spread around the house, they still possess the protein Fel d1 that can cause symptoms.
  • A study by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior ranked Sphynx cats as the most affectionate cat breed.
  • Like the Peruvian Inca Orchid (a breed of hairless dog), these sensitive kitties can sunburn easily, so protect them from harmful UV rays by using sunscreen formulated especially for cats.
  • The Sphynx is one of the world’s most popular cat breeds, ranked number 10 on the Cat Fancier’s Association list for 2021.
Katie Wickliff
byKatie Wickliff

Katie is a Colorado-based writer, educator, and animal lover who firmly believes life is better with a pet by your side. She currently shares her home with various creatures. In her free time, Katie loves to explore the mountains with her family and their Rough Collie, Story.