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Buying a pet

Sphynx Cat: Breed info and health advice

Date updated: 20 09 2018

Exotic, alluring and full of personality, the Sphynx Cat is proof that you don’t have to be fluffy to have the wow factor.

There’s no getting away from it; a cat without a coat is always going to grab people’s attention. But beyond the striking appearance, there are lots of other things that make this a very special feline. Inquisitive, affectionate and never afraid to speak their mind, a Sphynx could be the purr-fect new member of your family.

two sphynxes

Stats
Average lifespan: Around 13-15 years

Weight: Males:4 to 5 kg, Females: 3 to 4 kg

Colouring: They come in a huge range of different colours. All patterns and colour variations are acceptable under the Sphynx breed standard

Grooming requirements: moderate (we’re talking more skin care rather than fur care here!)

Average purchase cost: Around £750 for a pedigree kitten

Bet you didn’t know…

  • The Sphynx exists because of a happy accident. In the mid-1960s, a cat in Ontario gave birth to Prune, a kitten who was born hairless as a result of a genetic mutation. With some backcrossing and bringing in some naked kittens found elsewhere in Canada, this was the beginning of the breed we know today.
  • They’re not really hairless. The Sphynx has a soft layer of fluff. According to the Cat Fanciers Association, stroking a Sphynx should feel like “either a soft peach or a smooth nectarine”. Wrinkles are totally normal.
  • Wrinkles on a Sphynx are one of this cat’s stand-out features; especially around the muzzle, above the eyes and in the shoulder areas. This is a good sign; it shows that the cat has a healthy level of body fat.
  • Beware of imposters! A story emerged of fraudsters selling supposed Sphynx cats that turned out to be regular kittens who had been treated to a shave!
  • Lady GaGa, Jennifer Aniston, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Katie Price: all big Sphynx fans!

daydream sphynx

Great for…
First off, if you or someone in your home is constantly turning the heating controls down, then this probably isn’t the cat for you. For obvious reasons, the Sphynx appreciates a warm home; ideally around 21C.

The Sphynx is perfect for anyone looking for a loyal, affectionate little housemate. If you like the idea of being followed from room to room - and are happy to have someone occupying your lap all evening, then you and your Sphynx will be a perfect match.

There’s a downside to that strong bond though; a Sphynx can get distressed (and sometimes destructive) when left alone for long periods. They’re ideally suited for homes where there’s usually someone around - or when there’s another cat present.

Training and behaviour
Sphynx cats and the great outdoors do not mix. They can easily get sunburned and also suffer the effects of cold a lot quicker than other breeds - so this is definitely an indoors cat.

But these are clever, curious cats - and when they like to be kept busy in their indoor homes. This means lots of puzzle and fetch games and plenty of one-on-one interaction.

A Sphynx isn’t usually into hugs and lots of petting, but they do love to chill out on the sofa or curl up in your lap. Especially if it’s a bit draughty at floor level, they also like to get up high: so if you invest in a climbing tower, chances are that your Sphynx will get plenty of use out of it.

Sphynxes usually get on well with other cats - especially if they’ve grown up together. They can also easily make friends with dogs, but it’s always important that first introductions are handled with care, to make sure your Sphynx doesn’t get ‘spooked’.

A playful side means that a Sphynx can make a great addition to the household where there are children around; although, especially with smaller children, it’s important to teach the kids to respect the cat’s private space.

One of the best things about the Sphynx is their vocal side. Whether they’re playing, annoyed, hungry or just in the mood for a chat, they’ll let you know about it through a series of miaows!

TLC
Like most other cats, a Sphynx will spend a lot of time self-grooming. Trouble is, a lack of fur means there isn’t anything to absorb all of that oil from their saliva. So a Sphynx usually needs a bath once a week. They don’t always like this idea - but positive reinforcement from kittenhood can help make bathing less stressful.

Between baths, you should check the folds and wrinkles in their skin every couple of days. Clean away any build up of dirt or grease with a slightly damp cloth to prevent infection.

The Sphynx has little or no hair in those big pointy ears. The ear canals can sometimes be a magnet for debris, so they need to be inspected and cleaned once a week (very carefully, to prevent pushing dirt in further). Nails should be inspected regularly, too; the best time to trim them is generally straight after a bath.

 bathroom sphynx

Health problems  

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is the most commonly diagnosed heart problem in cats - and is known to be an issue in the Sphynx population. It leads to a thickened “pump muscle”, resulting in gradually worsening difficulties with breathing. It can’t be cured, but the right vet intervention can improve a cat’s quality of life considerably.
  • Kittenhood respiratory issues. It’s thought that due to their lack of hair, Sphynx kittens can be especially prone to lung infections and other general respiratory issues. Spotting them early and getting the right treatment goes a long way in helping your kitten overcome them.
  • Hereditary myopathy. This condition often results in muscle weakness and difficulties walking. Cats can live a normal lifespan with it with the right type of specialist guidance.
  • Digestive problems. Sphynx cats tend to be more prone than others to a range of gastrointestinal problems. Although the majority of these tend to clear up quickly, others need longer-term management and treatment.
  • Ocular infection. Even if you are diligent with keeping your buddy’s eyes clean, infections are still quite common. Treatment usually involves drops - although some cases require more intensive or long-term therapy.   

 

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