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Sphynx are a medium to large sized cat, muscular, heavy for it's appearance and size. Their ears are large to very large, open wide and upright, much like the ears of a bat. The widely set eyes with their candid gaze gives the Sphynx an approachable, friendly appearance. There is no specific eye color and this can vary. The cheekbones are prominent. 

The whisker pads are full, as so are the pads of the feet. 

Sphynx are often described as having a "pot belly." This is an expected characteristic of the cat and should not be discouraged, especially since the Sphynx has a hearty appetite and a very high metabolism. 

In body, though they appear to be hairless, not all Sphinx’s are hairless. They are actually covered with a fine down which can only barely be felt or even seen by the naked eye. Because of its fineness, the skin of the Sphynx is often compared to warm suede.

Another unusual trait of this cat are the wrinkles. They are concentrated around the shoulders, between the ears and around the muzzle. 

Coloring can vary considerably. The standard does not include color or markings, except to say all colors and patterns, in any combination that would be found in a feline, are acceptable for the sphynx.

Personality and Temperament

Sphynx are high energy cats which can perform acrobatic tricks, much like a monkey. The Sphynx is excellent at balancing, climbing atop doors and bookshelves, and even perching on shoulders like a bird. They love human attention and will perform shenanigans for everyone's entertainment.

 Like a clown, the Sphynx truly enjoys being a show-off. The Sphynx is curious and mischievous, and these qualities, coupled with the high level of intelligence found in this breed, can make it a handful. But, it is also a well behaved and easy to handle breed.

Because of its friendliness and sense of humor, along with ease of handling, the Sphynx is a favorite with show judges. Sphynx are solely indoor cats, since their charming qualities can get them into dangerous situation. Sphynx are loyal and affectionate towards its owners, even following you around the house, wagging its tail. The Sphynx is a true extrovert. It will demand your undivided attention and hates to be ignored. 

Sphynx also get on well with other animals, both cats and dogs.

Health and Care

Despite its apparent lack of hair, it is important to groom the Sphynx. For a regular cat, body oils are absorbed by the fur, but the Sphynx, clearly lacking in that attribute, does not have a natural way of keeping the oil on the skin in balance. This can lead to skin problems if the cat is not groomed. A regular bathing routine at least once a week to remove the build-up of body oils is sufficient to keep the skin healthy and the furniture clean.

An important consideration for the skin, which may seem obvious, is that the Sphynx must be safe-guarded from the sun. Only limited exposure. A small amount of sun will intensify the natural colors of the cat's skin, but too much will burn the cat, just as it does human skin.

Genetically, the Sphynx is strong, and not prone to anything specific to its breed. The Sphynx is a hearty breed, with few health problems.

History and Background

The unusual characteristic of a hairless cat was probably a naturally spontaneous mutation in the breed.  In Canada,  in 1966, a pair of domestic shorthairs produced a litter that included a hairless kitten. It was then that the modern Sphynx came into existence.

It was in 2002 that the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) finally accepted the Sphynx for competition in the Championship class. In 2006, Majikmoon Will Silver With Age, bred by Rebekah Lewis, won the CFA Cat of the Year, and in 2007, Enchantdlair NWA Cornflake Girl, bred and owned by Mary P. Nelson, won Kitten of the Year.

In the 1970's to 1980's, Devon Rex were used as outcrosses due to fatal genetic abnormalities presenting in sphynx. Outcrossing with Devon Rex is no longer permitted. Until 2010, Sphynx were also outcrossed with American Shorthair to broaden the gene pool.

Currently only mating’s within the breed are allowed, as the sphynx gene line is now considered stable and reliable for producing healthy cats.

Text credit: Rachel Pegg.
 


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is found in all cat breeds, not just Sphynx. HCM is the most common heart disease found in all domestic cats. 
HCM is a thickening of the heart'left ventricle wall. 

Many cats that have heart conditions show no outward symptoms (i.e. heart murmur) when checked by a non-specialist vet.

As responsible breeders, we need to be proactive and scan all our breeding cats annually with board certified cardiologists to ensure that we are breeding healthy cats. 

This is the best tool we have right now, and the more generations we scan  it lessens the chances of breeding affected kittens.

Always ask for the current certificates of the parents of the kitten you want to become your new family member.

My Sphynx are Scanned by Dr Richard Woolley at Vet Cardiology.

 

   

 

 

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