Sphynx Cat Care
If you have a Sphynx, be prepared to groom it at least once a week. "What?" You say, "But it's hairless, why does it need grooming?" In fact, Sphynxes groom themselves as often as regular cats, but since they don't have enough fur to absorb the oil secreted by their skin or their saliva, grooming leaves a sticky, sometimes crusty residue of oil, sweat, and spit on their skin. Think of them in the same way you would think of a baby. It's hairless, close to the ground, not designed to clean itself, and has special needs.
A Sphynx cat needs a bath at least once a week, and preferably in a medicated pet shampoo like Malaseb to ensure any bacteria or other nasties are killed during the bath. Most cats of this breed have been acclimated to regular baths by their breeder, which you can see in all the cat videos of hairless kitties happily playing in the bath. However, sometimes a Sphynx will retain its cat instincts and really dislike getting wet. Make sure your breeder has worked at acclimating your kitten to a regular bath, and continue regular bathing to reinforce the habit. Special rewards during and after will help.
Even with the bathing, your new friend may leave marks on furniture, sheets and your fluffy white towels just out of the drier if they sleep there for any length of time. This is because of their oily sweat glands, which can cause reddish brown oil to build up on their skin. Regular bathing will help, but it will not keep the cats from sweating, so if you cannot deal with the occasional oily brown sweat stain, this may not be the cat for you.
Sphynxes have no hair in their ear canals, which means dirt and debris collects in their ears more easily. They also produce copious amounts of dark earwax that is quite unsightly and can stain furniture and clothes. This wax will block the ear canal if left uncleaned. Be prepared to clean the gunk out of their ears with a cotton swab and some ear cleaner a couple of times a week. I won't lie to you, it is quite disgusting. If you are totally grossed out by the thought, then do not buy a hairless cat.
If you choose to trim your cat's nails, do so directly after its bath when the nails will be softer and easier to cut. Make sure to only trim the sharp ends and not the more sensitive pink part of the claws (called the "quick"). You can trim nails with any sharp nail clipper, and make sure to clean your cat's toes in the bath, as residue can sometimes build up!
The Need for Heat
When was the last time you ran around the house naked? In countries that have cold winters, your power bill will need to rise as a Sphynx needs to be warm all of the time (not just when humans are in the house). If you don't leave the heaters on, then you will need to purchase a heated cat igloo or make sure they have a warm bed with pillows that gets plenty of sun.
If you look through pictures on the Internet you are bound to find some of a Sphynx dressed in a warm jumper or t-shirt. Be careful when putting clothing on your new friend! Some cats are fine with it and appreciate the warmth, but many become confused and unhappy if you try to dress them. They might tip over, freeze in one place like a statue, or become withdrawn. If you decide to get your buddy a sweater, pay attention to how it is behaving and make sure it is okay with the change. If it doesn't like wearing clothing, you'll just have to make sure there are warm spots available for it to sleep.
Lastly, you must be able to love your hairless companion even when they:
- don't cover their poop in the kitty litter
- their poop smells like the worst thing you have ever smelled and now you have visitors at the door
- they have trodden on their soft poop and cuddled up to you in front of the guests, leaving poopy marks all over you
- let an eyewatering fart go when you are cuddling them in front of the guests and explaining how gorgeous they are as a breed
If you cannot even contemplate being able to do those things then do not buy a Sphynx.
But if you can, then welcome to the most loyal, gentle, and affectionate breed in the cat family!
- What is the Sphynx history?
There is record of a Mexican Hairless cats that lived in the early 1900's. The cats from that lineage became extinct. Then in 1966, "Epidermis", a bald cat was born in Toronto, Canada in 1966. Most of the Sphynx are derived from natural mutations found in the 1970's and 1980's from the Michigan, Minnesota and Toronto areas. Some of the foundation cats are Jezebelle, who produced Dermis and Epidermis; several Jen Jude cats and in 1989, Desert Storm of Gunzhof. The Sphynx gene for baldness is a mutation and recessive.
- Are Sphynx truly hairless?
No, they are not. Sphynx appear hairless, however most have a fine down. There is hair on the bridge of the nose and there is an allowance for hair on ears, paws, tail. Most Sphynx have hair on the back of their ears. Sphynx feel soft like a warm peach. They should NOT feel sticky. Some Sphynx are hairier than others and that is perfectly normal.
- What are the Sphynx supposed to look like?
Sphynx are regal looking cats and their most distinctive feature is their appearance of baldness. While appearing bald, they have a fine down that feels like peach fuzz. They are medium sized cats with oversized ears. Sphynx should look like they just ate a really big meal. They come in ALL colors.
They should not look like bald Siamese or have exceptionally long legs or a skinny body.
- Do Sphynx get cold and need to have the house at a warmer temperature?
Sphynx are like humans - if you are cold, they are probably cold. I keep warm blankets around the house and they will burrow in those. My house is keep at 69 in the winter and fairly cool in the summer too. They do need access to something to keep them warm in the winter. Just like humans, being too cold can be a stressor!
- Are Sphynx allergy-free?
NO! The saliva contains the dander which causes the allergic reaction in most people. Sphynx still have that. However, many people with allergies can tolerate the Sphynx. I believe it is because when the cats groom themselves, they get it on the hair and that sheds. I have had many success stories with people who have allergies, but I also have where the cat had to be returned because the person could not tolerate even a Sphynx. Make sure you discuss with your breeder what the procedures are for adopting a Sphynx if you have allergies and that there is a fair return policy.
- Why are Sphynx so expensive? You must make money off of them!?
All cats take a great deal of time and money to care for properly. As with any purebred animal from a reputable breeder, you can expect them to be more expensive because usually the breeder spends more time and money to ensure she is improving the breed. While spynx kittens seems like a lot... Breeders spend a small fortune a week on food and litter, I have to buy all the tools necessary to breed (thermometers, shampoo, extra blankets, towels, cleaning products, vitamins). Yearly heart scans done by a cardiologist are about $500 (without a discount) a breeder cat. Unexpected vet bills can be in the thousands of dollars. Then the regular vet bills, the shots, food, the altering - I could go on and on.
I spend hours cleaning up after my cats, scooping litter boxes, feeding them, sometimes newborns have to be supplemented every 2 hours for a few weeks. Breeding is a lot of time and dedication, it can be rewarding, but it is not easy and can be heartbreaking too. There are much better and easier ways to make money than breeding any sort of animal. This is something I do because I love Sphynx and I want my pet buyer to enjoy them at their best as well.
Good, ethical breeders do not make "profit" from the sale of their kittens, the money from the sale of pet kittens only supports the process. Kitten mills or those that have too many cats, are rumored to make money. Breeders like myself do not.
$1300-$1600 to adopt a loved, well socialized, well bred cat from good lines is a great deal, especially when it is backed up with a written contract. NOTE: Not all that charge premium prices have premium cats. You must ask the right questions and visit as well.