- Weight — 6-9 pounds (female), 8-12 pounds (male)
- Coat characteristics — While hairless, sphynx are sometimes found with a short, fuzzy or downy coat. Some short hair can be found on the nose, ears, toes, and tail.
- Enrichment needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Vocalizations — Frequent and loud
- Life span — 8-15 years
- Temperament — Lively, affectionate, curious, and athletic
- Hypoallergenic — Yes, though no cat is truly hypoallergenic. Sphynx’ hairlessness makes them easier for those with allergies to cat hair, but they still have proteins in their saliva that cause allergic reactions.
- Origin — Canada
Sphynx fun facts
- Sphynx cats are very social. This loving breed will get along great with family members such as humans, other cats, and dogs with ease.
- Their hairless skin is sensitive to the sun. Be mindful of how long your sphynx is in direct sunlight, as they are prone to sunburn. They can enjoy the outdoors, but they are definitely more of an indoor breed.
- Sphynxes should be bathed regularly. Without a coat to protect their skin from irritants, sphynx generate an oil that causes a greasy film. Weekly bathing can help keep this in check.
Sphynx temperament and characteristics
Sphynx are incredibly playful and known for enjoying attention and wanting to be close to you at all times. They have a naturally high curiosity and often want to adventure around the house or property as much as possible. In addition to checking out everything around them, sphynx will engage in frequent bouts of vocalizations. Expect to have them following you around and even holding full conversations with you.
The breed is very friendly with other household members, be they humans, cats, cat-friendly dogs, or other pets. This friendliness will show itself in their desire to be close and snuggled up with everyone. On cold mornings, you can expect to find your hairless kitten begging to be under the blanket with you.
This desire to be around you, however, does reflect in their neediness. They do not do well when left alone for a long time, so it is important that you are comfortable with the breed’s needy nature to avoid issues like anxiety or depression. It is possible to help your cat be more comfortable when you are not home, but it will take patient training.
Common sphynx health problems
The sphynx is a generally healthy and hardy medium-size cat breed. Their loose skin makes injury less likely for them, but there are some conditions that they are susceptible to. Responsible breeders will keep these conditions in mind, but it is good to be mindful of them and practice medical awareness with regular veterinarian visits.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy . This is a condition where the walls of your cat’s heart thicken and swell, reducing the amount of blood that can be circulated per heartbeat. There is no known cure, but there is medical therapy that can improve your cat’s quality of life.
- Hereditary myopathy . Often causing fatigue and muscular weakness, this condition saps your cat of its energy and can cause tremors and collapse. The symptoms usually show themselves at a young age and will stabilize by the time your sphynx is around nine months old.
- Dental disease . Depending on what foods you are giving your cat, there can be deposits left in their mouth after they eat. It is a good idea to clean your cat’s teeth to avoid these issues.
- Feline urticaria pigmentosa. Like with dermatitis, this skin condition can be worsened and triggered through exposure to different allergens. Antihistamines and oral supplements are known to reduce the effects of the condition, as well as avoidance of allergy-inducing environments.
🚨Male neutered cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can become fatal if left untreated. Make an appointment with your vet immediately if you notice that your cat is having accidents, bloody urine, straining when trying to urinate, the inability to urinate, or extremely foul smelling urine.
Cost of caring for a sphynx
No one wants to see their pets dealing with a medical emergency, but it is something that can happen at any moment. It is important to have the means to afford such emergencies. For instance, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can cost as much as $1,500 to diagnose, with an additional $300 a month on treatment options. This can be alleviated if you take time beforehand to set aside funds in a pet budget or look into setting up a pet insurance program.
Unfortunately, some insurance plans will not cover expenses associated with congenital or inherited conditions. Responsible breeders should be mindful to not pass on conditions such as these.
Sphynx are not a cheap cat compared to some other popular cat breeds. Buying from a breeder can set you back anywhere from $2,000-$3,000. However, if you find one to adopt from a rescue, you are only looking at costs closer to the $75-$150 range.
History of the sphynx
Despite the long history and mystique attached to their name, the sphynx as a breed has nothing to do with the Ancient Egyptian sphinx of lore. The first sphynx cat, Prune, was born in 1966 in Ontario, Canada, to a domestic shorthair mother. This first hairless kitten resulted from a genetic mutation within the litter. Prune was later bred with a Devon rex in an attempt to develop a new breed, but unfortunately, her entire line died out in the early ‘80s due to a shallow gene pool.
The sphynx of today took hold in the mid-1970s when farmers in Minnesota and Siamese breeders in Toronto found hairless kittens in their cats’ litter. These little kittens were then taken and bred carefully over the course of the following years to create the sphynx as we know it today. Special care was taken to make sure that their genes were robust and different enough that they would not suffer the same fate as Prune’s original line.
Caring for your sphynx
When you bring home any new cat, it is your responsibility now to make sure that everything is set up for them to have a healthy, happy home. This starts with making sure your home is appropriately readied for an active cat breed such as the sphynx. Also, it is important to schedule early vet appointments to make sure your cat is vaccinated. Finally, no one wants to think of losing their cat if they get out, so it is worth looking into setting up a Fido ID account.
Sphynx do not need to be brushed due to their hairlessness, but they do require a bath at least once a week. Their lack of fur gives them a unique appearance, but they still have some of the same issues as even their most hairy compatriots. Fleas love crawling over their skin, so it is important to keep an eye out for them and to use products like flea and tick treatments that can keep these pests from taking hold.
Regardless if your cat is an expert at grooming themselves, there are still some routine tasks that you should help with to prevent issues like gingivitis. Brushing your cat’s teeth, bringing them to the vet for routine dental care, and trimming your cat’s nails are all essential to a healthy cat and a happy you.
No breed of cat is truly hypoallergenic, as allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a cat’s dander, hair, and saliva. So-called “hypoallergenic cats” simply shed less and thus have less of an effect on those with cat allergies.
Diet and nutrition
Sphynxes are known for having a big appetite to match their big personalities. Don’t be alarmed if they want to eat more and more, but it is important to keep in touch with your vet to make sure you are not overfeeding them. They don’t have much issue with drinking water, but sometimes cats can be difficult when it comes to this. Some water fountains can help to encourage them to drink if they are having issues.
Enrichment and environment
The sphynx is a very active cat breed, often wanting to run around, climb, and play for long periods of time. Due to this playful nature, it is important that they have enough space to play and not be in the danger of being in your way. With their intelligence, activity, and curiosity, it is very easy to train a sphynx. They are often eager to learn tricks and will also play fetch when given the opportunity, so very interactive toys are a great way to keep them enriched and mentally stimulated.
They may choose to use your desk and shelves as much as a cat tree, so it is important to make sure elevated surfaces in your home are all sturdy for the sphynx’s safety and comfort. They do enjoy sunbathing, as their lack of fur can make them more susceptible to the cold. Therefore, it is important that they have resting areas that are in the sunlight for them to lie in comfortably.
Their play can be taken outside with enough supervision, but their temperature must be carefully maintained. In the summer, too much sunlight can burn their unprotected skin, so it is important to use animal-safe sun lotion as well as loose clothing to cover their skin. In the winter, it is important that they are bundled with thicker sweaters to help keep them warm.
Breeds similar to the sphynx
Not quite sure that a sphynx cat is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Devon rex. Known for its large ears, kind eyes, and playful nature, the Devon rex is similar to the sphynx in their need to be involved. They love being close to household members and are seen as similar to a dog in their want for companionship.
- Donskoy. Very friendly and loyal, these cats are sometimes known as the “Don Sphynx.” Playful and curious, they are a good fit for most households. They require similar grooming as the sphynx itself does.
- Siamese. Very loving and vocal, the Siamese is a breed that will want to accompany you throughout the entirety of your home. A “people cat” through and through, it will be difficult to keep your Siamese away from you. But, why would you want to?
Frequently asked questions
Is a sphynx a good cat?
There is no such a thing as an inherently “bad cat,” and sphynx are known as good cats to own, even if you are not very familiar with cats. Friendly, robust, and loving, they will make it easier on people that are timid around cats or worried they might inadvertently hurt them.
Do sphynxes smell bad?
Without fur to protect their skin, sphynxes are known to excrete excess oil that can cause a smelly, greasy film. With proper bathing, that smell can be alleviated and managed.
Are sphynx high maintenance?
Despite the fact they don’t need to be brushed, sphynx cats do still require a high degree of maintenance. Regular bathing, clearing their ears, and keeping track of their temperature with clothing are a few things you’ll have to handle.
How rare is the sphynx?
The sphynx breed is considered by the Cat Fanciers’ Association to be relatively rare, and breeders generally have a long waiting list for kitten litters. However, the wait is well worth it once you hold one in your arms and can touch its suedelike skin.
Should I get a sphynx?
Adopting an animal is no small choice that should be made on a whim. Please make sure you have the means to take care of a sphynx, and you will be greeted by a playful, loving, and loyal companion for years to come.