Sphynx cats make up for their lack of hair with an abundantly affectionate personality. Though not nearly as common as hairless dogs, Sphynx cats are gaining in popularity, mainly through word of mouth. Fed up with allergy inducing cat dander, shed cat hair and hairballs? If cat hair’s not “fur” you, then a Sphynx cat just might be!
The How & Why of Hairless Cats
Hairlessness in cats is caused by a specific recessive gene, which means that the parents of a hairless cat must each carry a copy of the gene for hairlessness that they then pass down to their offspring. Unless genetically hairless “barecats” are bred with either close relatives or other carriers of the gene, expressed hairlessness would remain a rare and occasional occurrence.
(image via: Catfacts)
Sphynx cats are not completely hairless – like “hairless” dogs, elephants and marine mammals they do have some hair but the quantity and length are greatly reduced. Some liken the coat of a Sphynx cat to peach fuzz. Another curious feature of these cats is that, similar to tigers, their skin is pigmented in the same places darker hair would appear. From a distance then, Sphynx cats look like most any other cat… get closer and the difference can be shocking.
(images via: Angelfire Sphynx)
The first documented hairless cats were littermates Nellie and Dick, acquired by a Mr. Shinick of New Mexico in 1903 from some local Pueblo Native Americans. Hairless cats cropped up again in Toronto, Canada in 1966 (giving rise to the name “Canadian Hairless”) and shortly after in Minnesota, USA. As word of these strange cats began to spread, other occurrences were noted around the world and this helped breeders establish a viable line of Sphynx cats that were less susceptible to genetic diseases and disabilities brought about by inbreeding.
(image via: Dare2B-Bare)
It wasn’t until 1985 that The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted the Sphynx into Championship status and in 1987, the honor of Best International Sphynx and TICA Supreme Grand Champion was awarded to Britanya’s Lady Godiva.
Sphynx Cat Characteristics
Sphynx cats are distinctive in other ways besides being, for all intents and purposes, hairless. They have wedge-shaped heads, large ears, and tend to develop pot bellies as they age. They also seek warmth owing to their lack of insulating fur. This may come across as pure affection but it also has a physiological basis.
(image via: Izismile)
Sphynx cats’ skin can also be wrinkly, like that of Chinese Shar Pei dogs but without fur to ameliorate the degree of wrinkliness.
It’s natural for humans to be drawn to people and animals with big eyes, rounded facial features… babies and the babylike, to be exact. Sphynx cats don’t often conform to the stereotypical “cute” profile due to the lack of fur and its softening, rounding effect.
(image via: Izismile)
In extreme cases, Sphynx cats can appear bat-like, threatening, sinister, even frightening… such as the li’l feller above, whose meow is probably a lot worse than his bite.
Bring On The Kittehs!
Odd or not, Sphynx cats can be exceptionally cute – especially as kittens. The younger they are, the rounder their features and the more wrinkly their skin. And, like all domestic cats, Sphynx cat kittens are curious, playful, mild-mannered and affectionate. Did I mention how cute they are?
(image via: Bestiarum Vocabulum)
The more the merrier? It’s not hard to find Sphynx cats cuddling together for warmth, being naked and all. Er, umm, roll the kitty pics!
Either owners tend to keep more than one Sphynx cat or photographers just love to capture cat couples in their Kodachrome compositions – or maybe both. It may be that the image of a pair of Sphynx cats looks somehow more friendly, more inviting, more… agreeable.
(image via: Baxterboo)
Double trouble? More like two’s company – and if these felines can get along with each other, weird hairlessness or not, so can we humans. Ya think?
Tats on Cats: Art, Abomination or Both?
It had to happen, of course: someone tempted by the living canvas of a Sphynx cat’s skin decided it called out for a tattoo. Or two. The morality of tattooing animals, pets or not, is a hotly debated topic on which yours truly will not publicly take sides. By exposing you, the reader, to these images of tattooed Sphynx cats, perhaps a wider consensus on this practice can be reached.
(image via: Emptees)
One may wonder how the cats sit still and tolerate being tattooed. In at least some cases, they don’t… they are anesthetized while the “art” is being applied. The King Tut tat depicted above was applied in Russia where the practice is not unknown. Again, it’s arguable whether sedating pets for cosmetic procedures is ethical or not – a pity we can’t ask the cat.
Beauty: More Than Skin Deep
One thing almost everyone can agree on is that Sphynx cats are distinctive-looking enough “as is”; no extra exterior modifications needed. As the images above clearly display, these unique cats display a savage beauty tempered by what appears to be significant intelligence and empathy. Or, maybe it’s just those big round eyes made all the more prominent by the absence of fur.
(image via: Daily Contributor)
The set of images above should do much to raise both the awareness and popularity of Sphynx cats. If THEY can’t keep a straight face, how on earth can you?
(image via: Curious Animals)
Sphynx cats… attractive, repulsive, or a little of both? If you think a Sphynx cat (or two) would help warm up your humble abode, check around for a reliable breeder and feel free to ask questions – for the cats’ sake as much as yours. And speaking of “warm”, keep in mind the fact that Sphynx cats ARE hairless. Keep ’em comfy and they’ll surely do the same for you.