It could be the uniqueness of the Sphynx that attracts you or the madcap things it gets up to if you’re owning a sphynx cat but once you’re smitten, there’s no letting go.
The origins of the Sphynx breed go back some 50 years to 1966 when a black and white cat in Canada gave birth to a hairless kitten. As his skin was so wrinkly, his owner called him Prune, subsequently breeding him back with his mother to try to create more hairless kittens. The result was a breed known today as the Sphynx, apparently because of their resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian cat sculpture.
The first Sphynx to arrive in the UK came from the Netherlands. Having seen a picture of the breed in Cat World, two English breeders, Jan Plumb and Angela Rushbrook, visited a cat show in Paris where they were able to see the cats for themselves. They were completely won over and imported their own Sphynx, four-year-old Tulip, from a Dutch breeder.
Tulip was proudly exhibited at three GCCF shows and attracted a lot of interest. But although Tulip was admired by many, other members were not so keen and it would be a number of years before the GCCF recognized the Sphynx officially.
However, the Cat Association of Britain were more accepting and allowed this new breed to be exhibited. This gave breeders an opportunity to show off their prized Sphynx cats to the public.
When FIFe gave them championship status a few years later, the Sphynx was able to take part in competitions. Ultimately they were officially recognized by the GCCF too, enabling the breed to have a much wider audience.
The Sphynx breed has grown in popularity over the past few decades, in part due to their affectionate and loving nature. Owners are delighted that their cat will happily sit on their shoulders, and they can be a great entertainer. They love to pose, often with one front paw raised, but they are also rather boisterous, full of mischief and will happily create mayhem; for those who love them, this is part of their charm. However, if you’re wanting a quiet companion then a Sphynx is probably not for you.
Sphynx Cat Care
Although the lack of fur means there is no brushing or combing necessary, Sphynx owners do need to pay attention to the skin condition and keep it clean and supple.
Sphynx will still secrete oils into their coat so regular bathing or sponging is recommended but only with shampoos created specifically for cats. This is best started while the cat is still a kitten so that they get accustomed to the routine straightway. Towel them dry in a warm room to prevent a chill.
The large ears will also need gentle but regular attention with a special cleaner and cotton bud. Protect against sun damage if you allow your cat outside. However, they are generally an indoor breed as they dislike cold, damp conditions. Provide comfortable bedding and carpeting in any outside run, outhouse or conservatory.
Contrary to popular belief, the Sphynx is not hypo-allergenic as it still produces dander that can cause allergies in a small number of people but they may be better able to tolerate a Sphynx than another breed.
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the Sphynx is not completely hairless. Their skin is covered with a fine layer of downy, very short fur that has the feel of suede.
They are not as light as you might imagine either. Males are usually larger than females and can weigh as much as seven kilos. Both sexes are solid and muscular.
Their furry covering is not patterned, but they do have variations of color on their skin.
Sphynx Breed standard (GCCF)
Head: a modified wedge with rounded contours, slightly longer than it is wide. Skull is slightly rounded, with a flat plane in front of the ears; prominent cheekbones and whisker pads with a rounded muzzle. The nose is medium long, straight, with a slight ‘stop’ at the bridge.
Ears: set at a slight angle to the head with the outer base of the ears level with the outer corner of the eye but not flaring. They should be large, wide open at the base and tapering to a slightly rounded tip. No inner ear furnishing.
Eyes: large and ‘lemon-shaped’, slanting towards the outer edge of the ear. They can be in any color.
Body: medium length, strong and not ‘Cobby’ with a broad, rounded chest and abdomen. A well-muscled neck should be medium to long.
Legs and feet: legs are of medium length, in proportion to the body, sturdy and well-muscled; Hind legs are slightly longer than the front. Paws are oval. The toes are long and slender and the paw pads are thick.
Tail: a long and slender tail, broad at the base, tapering to the tip. Length should be in proportion to the body length.
Coat: While they have no fur, there is a downy covering to the skin which gives a slight resistance when the cat is stroked. The distinctive wrinkles are unique and therefore desirable, especially around the muzzle, between the ears and on the shoulders. Whiskers and eyebrows are often absent altogether or very short and sparse.
Color: there are no points for color. However, there are visible markings on the skin. Because of the lack of fur, pigmentation can look quite different in a Sphynx; for example, light colors can take on a pinkish tinge.