Spotlight On: Sphynx

If you’re looking to add one of the most distinctive cat breeds on the planet to your family at home, the Sphynx is about as striking and rare as our feline friends come. Read on to learn more about these hairless cats’ unique care requirements, personality traits, health concerns, and what to expect when adopting such a feline.

Essential Characteristics of Sphynx Cats

The Sphynx is a medium-sized cat originating in Canada and having previously been referred to as “Canadian hairless cats.” Sphynx cats are one of the few hairless cat breeds, unlike most other breeds. These velvety felines typically have a lifespan of about 8 to 14 years, and they often grow up to an average size of 8 to 10 inches in height. They typically have a general weight range of 6 to 14 pounds. As with most cats, the females tend to fall on the smaller side of the adult size range while the males often grow to be a bit larger.

Although they are seemingly hairless, this breed actually has a very fine layer of fuzz that gives them a felt-like, velvety, or soft leather-like texture. They may or may not have whiskers as well, a trait that varies among Sphynx cats but is typically leaving them entirely without both hair and whiskers in most cases. For those who lack these facial navigation hairs, it can impact their ability to perceive their surroundings. It can also cause them to get in some predicaments that a typical cat would otherwise have been able to avoid.

Despite the lack of real fur, a Sphynx can come in various colors and patterns. The pink, fleshy color is the most commonly sighted variation, but they may also have dark patches, have an entirely black body, or even have a somewhat tortoiseshell pattern. They’re known for their “lemon-shaped” eyes that are large and stand out against their furless bodies, too. Sphynxes also have long, finger-like toes and bat-like ears that give them a distinct look compared to most of the other felines inhabiting the planet.

The Temperament of a Sphynx

Sphynx cats are often referred to as having “dog-like” personalities. They may look like little wrinkly monsters, but this breed is known for being very friendly, affectionate, and personable with people and even other animals. They are very social, love to follow people around, and are fond of communicating verbally. Sphynxes are known to be noisy talkers with a lot of opinions!

This breed is usually quite entertaining as well as playful and fun to be around. With the combination of loving social interactions and lacking fur, they also make great snuggle buddies. They will rarely turn down the opportunity to curl up with their favorite human. Sphynxes are incredibly smart and curious, so they’re likely to figure out how to do just about anything they please if you bring one home. They are notorious for using their finger-like toes to poke their way into all kinds of new discoveries—some of which may get them into some trouble! More than anything, they simply love to be glued to their favorite person’s side and serve as wonderfully loyal companions.

Exercise for Sphynx Cats

Sphynxes are incredibly athletic, and cat parents that modify their homes to accommodate this trait will see just how impressive and agile a Sphynx can be! These cats love to explore, so a fun cat tower or even a jungle gym—if you have space—can provide tons of entertainment for these furless babies.

Aside from their natural athletic prowess, Sphynxes are also brilliant and require a good deal of mental stimulation and interaction. Being sure to play and challenge your Sphynx daily will help keep them exercised, relaxed, and out of mischief. They are also quick to learn and love to be trained with positive reinforcement techniques, so you can even teach your hairless companion how to fetch like a dog! This training is a great way to keep your Sphynx’s mind busy and provide hours of bonding and fun for both of you.

viera florida sphynx kitties

Grooming Your Sphynx

It may seem like the lack of hair means there will be fewer grooming concerns to worry about, but the grooming requirements for a Sphynx are far from minimal. Having a hairless cat requires you to take additional care of their sensitive, exposed skin.

A cat’s fur helps trap the natural oils they produce and pull them away from the feline’s skin. Still, a Sphynx doesn’t have the hair and capability to do this like other breeds, so they rely on weekly baths to clean away the dirt and oils accumulated on their bodies. Sphynxes require regular bathing on at least a weekly basis and consistent ear cleaning. The type of soap necessary to bathe a Sphynx can vary, so it’s best to consult your veterinarian to find something safe for your cat’s skin while also helping keep them extra clean. Typically, any pet soap that is free of perfumes and dyes should be suitable.

When bathing a Sphynx, you will want to be extra cautious about ensuring you’ve washed off all soap residue when rinsing, and you’ll also want to make sure that you’ve towel-dried them off well. Sphynxes can experience irritation when their skin isn’t properly cared for, and they can even develop conditions like blackheads and acne! If your Sphynx has such a reaction and develops any skin blemishes, regular cleaning of these areas or a trip to the vet should help resolve the issues with very little trouble.

It’s also essential to stay on top of nail trimming when you have a Sphynx in your home. Other cats would have a fluffy barrier of protection if they were to bring their exposed claws near their bodies. However, Sphynxes have no such protection, so they are at risk of accidental scratches that may cause them discomfort or even run the risk of infection in some cases.

Vet & Medical Care for Sphynx Cats

When thinking about adding a Sphynx to your family, there are a few health concerns you’ll want to be aware of. Sphynxes have a risk of experiencing some serious issues such as hereditary myopathy (a disease involving muscle weakness), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (one of the most common heart conditions occurring in felines), and urticaria pigmentosa (similar to an allergic reaction involving the skin). However, most of the problems cat parents of Sphynxes face are more common and to be expected: a variety of skin problems, ear infections, and periodontal disease.

Skincare is a top concern when caring for a Sphynx, and improper bathing and cleaning can lead to your furless baby developing acne, blackheads, skin irritation, or urticaria pigmentosa (which causes red spots and rash-like areas on the skin). This last consequence of poor hygiene can be addressed and treated by your veterinarian, and providing your Sphynx with a healthy diet and cleaning routine can help prevent other skin issues from developing.

Staying on top of regular ear cleaning is also essential to prevent infections. A Sphynx lacks the hair to trap and keep out dust, debris, and excess oil from its ears. This can lead to buildup, further progressing into infections if left uncleaned.

Periodontal disease is also a concern for Sphynx parents. This breed’s genetics can sometimes cause specific Sphynx cats to struggle with tooth discoloration. They are also more likely to have dental issues in general than many other breeds.

One of the other top struggles one might face when caring for a Sphynx is their inability to regulate their body temperature properly. The lack of fur on these cats causes them not only to struggle to stay warm in cooler weather but also means they have nothing to shield them from heat and sunlight. A Sphynx will always need assistance in regulating their body temperature in the home, whether with blankets, heated cat beds, or adequate shade and cool drinking water, depending on the temperature.

Bringing a Sphynx Kitty Home

Bringing a Sphynx into your home may be an exciting new change, but it also comes with some challenges you’ll need to prepare for. A Sphynx’s curiosity is something that can quickly get out of hand for inexperienced cat parents. These unique felines need a lot of mental stimulation and interaction, and they sometimes will even require their pet parents to “cat-proof” the home to keep their prying little toes and noses out of harm’s way. They also love to engage in climbing and clawing kitty towers and having energy-burning playtime with toys with their favorite humans attached to the other ends.

With their loving and attentive personalities, they also do not do well in a home in which they won’t have family present very often. Again, Sphynxes need a lot of attention, including a lot of human interaction. They will become anxious, stressed, and likely quite destructive if left alone frequently. Cat separation anxiety is a serious issue for this breed, so you’ll need to be sure you can devote the right amount of time to caring for them daily.

Unfortunately, for those who looked at a hairless cat breed and decided they simply had to be hypoallergenic, this is not the case with the Sphynx. Cat dander—which is what causes allergic reactions in those who are sensitive—is made up of a cat’s dead skin cells, and Sphynxes are not exempt from shedding dead skin cells just because their bodies are a bit different. Some individuals with cat allergies may also have symptoms triggered by a cat’s saliva or urine, both of which a Sphynx produces.

Although you may find a more affordable Sphynx to adopt from a rescue or shelter, most Sphynxes are purchased from breeders and can range in price from $2,000 to $5,000 or more. Obviously, Sphynxes with more unique features and color patterns will come with a higher price tag. Still, it would be best if you were always sure to adopt your potential new family member from a reputable breeder who takes good care of their cats and can provide important medical and genealogical information about your new furless friend.

Once you’ve found the Sphynx of your dreams and are ready to bring your new family member home, be sure to remember that Space Coast Pet Services is always available for any help you may need when adjusting to having a new fur baby in the family.


Melanie Haynes



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