Sphynx: Cat Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care (2023)

Feline sphynxes were named after the Egyptian legendary sphinx (although, the cat is spelled with a "y" instead of an "i") for their sophisticated look and graceful nature. Despite their regal appearance, they are playful and goofy pals that sometimes act more like dogs than cats. They may look like they were pets of the pharoahs, but, in fact, they originally hail from Canada in the 1960s.

Sphynxes stand out among other cats due to their lack offur or hair—an uncommon occurrence among most mammals. These non-furry felineslove to sprawl out in sunspots for warmth whenever possible. They make excellent cuddle buddies and prefer to keep warm under the covers with their owners at night. These outgoing, exceptionally friendly and playful felines generally enjoy the company of other cats, dogs, and children, making them a great choice for a family pet.

Breed Overview

Personality: Playful, affectionate, friendly, energetic, and loving

Weight:Less than 12 pounds

Length: 13 to 15 inches, head to tail

Coat Length: Nearly hairless, peach fuzz

Coat Color:Any color, including white, black, red, brown, white, and lilac

Coat Patterns: Any pattern, including solid, bi-color, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, tuxedo, and pointed

Eye Color: Any possible feline eye color

Lifespan:8 to 14 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Canada

Sphynx Characteristics

What the sphynx lacks in hair, it more than makes up for in personality. These peach-fuzz-coated cats are known for their exceptionally friendly, affectionate, and cuddly personalities. Many are dog-like in their desire to be close to their favorite humans whenever possible. They enjoy cuddling and other affectionate interactions, and they are rarely shy with new people, children, other cats, and even dogs.

These are very energetic cats that like to play and explore, but once playtime is over, they will unfailingly seek out a nearby lap for cuddling, or else a warm and sunny spot for a good catnap. While sphynx cats make wonderful family pets, these felines hate being alone for long, so if you cannot devote plenty of regular attention to your cat, the sphynx is not the right breed for you.

Affection LevelHigh
FriendlinessHigh
Kid-FriendlyMedium
Pet-FriendlyHigh
Exercise NeedsLow
PlayfulnessHigh
Energy LevelHigh
IntelligenceHigh
Tendency to VocalizeHigh
Amount of SheddingLow

History of the Sphynx Cat

While the ancient Aztecs bred hairless cats hundreds of years ago, the sphynx cat we know today is actually a Canadian breed originating in Toronto in 1966 from a random genetic mutation. The mutation caused the kitten to be hairless. Some breeders took a liking to the hairless cat and decided to breed individuals that produced consistently hairless offspring.

Originally called the Canadian hairless, the breed made its way to America, and both American and Canadian breeders continued to develop the new breed, cross-breeding sphynx cats with Devon rex cats, another breed that has little hair. Over time, the sphynx cat was established as a new breed with its own breed standards.

The sphynx breed was recognized byThe International Cat Association in 2005, theCat Fanciers Association in 2002,and several independent cat clubs in Europe, though standards for the breed all differ slightly. The American Cat Fanciers' Association also recognizes the breed.

Some purebred feline registries will not recognize the sphynx cat based on the idea that the breed’s hairlessness is a genetic abnormality that could be harmful to individual cats’ health and longevity.

Sphynx Cat Care

Grooming

You might assume that a cat with little-to-no fur wouldn't require much grooming, but in fact, the sphynx cat needs more grooming than many other normally furred breeds. Because they have no hair to absorb their body oils, the sphynx cat’s skin must be washed regularly to maintain a healthy
balance of oil and prevent skin problems and oil spots on furniture.

You shouldbathe your sphynx catweekly or biweekly to remove oil build-up. Use a gentle shampoo formulated specifically for cats to avoid skin irritation or excessive dryness. Most breeders of sphynx cats accustom the kittens to regular baths, so the majority of these felines are quite agreeable to submersion in water, unlike many other breeds of felines.

Another area to focus on is your sphynx's ears. Due to the lack of fur, these cats tend to accumulate quite a bit of wax and dust inside their ears, which is both unsightly and potentially a source of infection. Use a cotton ball—not a swab—to gently remove wax and grime from your pet's ears once per week. If you notice redness, sores or scabs, excessive debris, or a bad smell, it's time for a call to your veterinarian.

Like any cat, your sphynx also needs regular nail trims and should have its teeth brushed regularly, as well.

Contrary to popular belief, sphynx cats are not completely hypoallergenic. They may look hairless, but these cats are actually covered in a very fine, suede-like coat. Doctors may, however, still recommend a sphynx cat as a solution for cat lovers who are searching for a breed that carries less allergens on their fur than others.

Exercise

Sphynx cats are loyal and full of love for their humans and can often be spotted following them around or snuggling up while wagging their tail. Even though they would almost always rather be cuddling, sphynx cats are natural athletes andplayful pals. Though sphynx cats are exceptionally active felines, their exercise needs are low.

These cats are happy to entertain themselves for hours at a time, but some might love to have a buddy. If you are away from home for most of the day, you might want to get two sphynx cats. Sphynxes get along with other pets, too, so you can rest easy knowing they will be happy if you have another animal they can snuggle with at home, including dogs.

Sphynx cats love to play, jump, and may even fetch once trained. Social and smart, sphynx cats respond well to positive reinforcement training.

Common Health Problems

As with all purebred pets, always ask your breeder for a health guarantee for your sphynx kitten. When bred responsibly, sphynx cats have a generally healthy outlook.

Due to its hairlessness, Sphynx cats are sensitive to sun exposure as they have no fur to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Their direct sun exposure should be limited, as just like humans, these cats can get a sunburn if exposed to sunlight for too long. For this reason, sphynxes should remainindoor petsor be monitored closely when outside.

In addition to skin issues, some of the conditions they can be prone to include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common heart disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle
  • Periodontal disease or gum disorders
  • Urticaria pigmentosa, an itchy, hereditary skin condition that causes a rash

Your sphynx should have annual health checkups with your veterinarian to detect potential health problems before they become serious. Of course, should your cat show signs of illness, it's always a good idea to contact your vet.

Appearance

The most obvious and striking thing about a sphynx cat's appearance is its lack of fur. Note that these cats are not always completely bald, though; according to their breed standards, they can have a "peach-fuzz" coating of hair that is no more than 1/8-inch in length. They do typically all have a bit of short hair on the bridge of their nose and the backs of their ears. Most do not have whiskers, although they do have the characteristic whisker pads above the mouth.

(Video) Sphynx Cats 101 - Cat Breed And Personality

The skin of a sphynx should have some wrinkles, especially around its shoulders and between its ears. The ears themselves are very large, giving the cat an "elf-like" expression. The eyes are also large and set fairly far apart on the animal's head. A sphynx cat's eyes can be any color genetically possible in felines, including blue, green, amber, orange, brown, yellow, or two different eye colors.

Lack of fur doesn't mean lack of color; the skin of a sphynx cat can be any color that is genetically possible in felines, and any "coat" pattern as well. That includes black, white, gray, brown, cream, red, and lilac coloration, and tabby, bi-color, tortoiseshell, pointed, calico, or tuxedo patterns.

These cats are a medium size, with a muscular body build and a long, slender tail.

Diet and Nutrition

Sphynx cats love food, and their potbellies prove it. Most will eat anything you offer them. You should still pay close attention totheir nutrition, though, and be sure your pet doesn't gain too much weight.

Sphynx cats have a high metabolism and a sensitive digestion system, so small meals in regular intervals throughout the day is ideal. Serving food this way prevents cats from getting disinterested with their meals, too.

Whether you feed your cat an all-kibble diet, all-canned diet, or a mixture of both is mostly a matter of preference. Some sphynx cat owners opt for a raw food diet and claim numerous health benefits. But as with all cats, your sphynx requires a diet that is high in protein, moderate in fats, and low in carbohydrates. You can also offer your cat treats that help reduce its chance of hairballs, clean its teeth, and keep its gums healthy.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Sphynx Cat

Sphynx cats are very popular, but it may still take some work to find one. These cats rarely end up in shelters or rescues, although it's always worth looking. Two online pet-search websites that can be helpful are Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet. Note that cats from shelters or rescues are often mixed-breed, not purebred animals.

If your heart is set on a purebred sphynx, your best bet is to contact breeders. You can locate sphynx breeders at cat shows, search online, or check one of the cat association website's lists of breeders.

Sphynx Overview

Petting a sphynx cat is often compared to stroking warm, purring suede. These hairless cats are extremely affectionate and devoted, loving nothing more than a cuddle in your lap or a nap in your bed, preferably with you beside them. They enjoy playing, but do not demand a tremendous amount of exercise. Still, these intelligent and outgoing felines get along well with humans young and old, other cats, and most dogs.

Because sphynxes hate to be alone for long and do require quite a bit of attention, it's best to choose another breed if your lifestyle requires you to be gone from home for long periods, or if you don't have the time or the desire to groom your cat regularly.

Pros

  • Sphynxes are a loving, playful, loyal breed.

  • Most sphynxes get along well with other cats and dogs.

    (Video) Sphynx Cat Breed 101, All facts/ All Cats

  • People who dislike cat hair or shedding cats will love this hairless breed.

Cons

  • They are prone to sunburn and cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

  • They are not hypoallergenic; allergens are still secreted through the saliva and skin.

  • This breed is prone to cardiomyopathy, as well as skin and dental concerns.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in other cat breeds with outgoing personalities or unusual fur, check out:

  • Siamese
  • Bengal
  • Devon Rex

Otherwise, take a look at all of our othercat breed profiles.

FAQ

(Video) Sphynx Cat 101 - Must Watch BEFORE Getting One!

Article Sources

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Sunburn in Companion Animals. Pet Poison Helpline.

  2. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Feline Health Center, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

  3. Common Cat Dental Problems. VCA Hospitals.

  4. Sphynx. Cherry Hill Animal Clinic.

    (Video) Peterbald. Pros and Cons, Price, How to choose, Facts, Care, History

  5. Feeding Your Cat. Feline Health Center, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

FAQs

What is the characteristic of Sphynx cat? ›

The sphynx is a medium-sized cat with a striking appearance, identified by her hairless, wrinkled skin and large ears. She has a sleek, muscular body that is dense and heavy for her size. The breed is medium sized but nicely muscled.

How do you take care of a Sphynx cat? ›

Because of their lack of fur, sphynx cats have incredibly oily and sweaty skin. ¹ This means this breed needs weekly baths to maintain healthy and clean skin. Use warm, not hot, water and a medicated pet shampoo without a powerful scent. You can also reach out to your vet for more specific recommendations.

Do Sphynx cats need a lot of care? ›

The sphynx is a very high maintenance cat. She doesn't need to be brushed, of course, but needs frequent bathing, generally once a week. The Sphnyx has oily skin. A cat's hair would normally pull the oil away from the skin.

Why are Sphynx cats special? ›

Sphynx are known for their extroverted behavior. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity and affection for their owners. They are one of the more dog-like breeds of cats, frequently greeting their owners at the door and friendly when meeting strangers.

How smart is a Sphynx cat? ›

Sphynx cats are highly intelligent, alert and inquisitive of their environment. If you are looking for a cat that is independent and won't require much one on one time, this isn't the breed for you! They are extremely loyal and affectionate, often picking a favourite person in their family and becoming their shadow.

Which breed of cat is friendliest? ›

The Top 9 Friendliest Cat Breeds
  • Persian. ...
  • Ragdoll. ...
  • Siamese. ...
  • Maine coon. ...
  • Sphynx. ...
  • Abyssinian. ...
  • Burmese. ...
  • Scottish fold.

What do Sphynx cats love? ›

They love attention. It's not unusual for a Sphynx to be a therapy cat because they enjoy attention, they like to snuggle for warmth, and they tend to be easy to handle. They need to be indoors. Sphynx cats are strictly indoor pets because they're vulnerable to the sun and cold.

How long do Sphynx cats love? ›

They are medium-sized, weighing 6 to 12 pounds, with an average lifespan of 8 to 14 years. Energetic and loyal, Sphynx cats are sometimes described as dog-like.

Do Sphynx cats love water? ›

Sphynx. Because of their lack of hair, the Sphynx needs to be bathed regularly from an early age on and as a result, often likes being in the water, said Joan Miller, chair of outreach and education for the Cat Fanciers' Association.

Do Sphynx cats get hurt easily? ›

Hairless cats can get sunburned easily, and their skin is generally, more easily injured. Not surprisingly, they also get cold easily! For these reasons, it is recommended that cats like the Sphynx breed are kept indoors only, with UV screens on windows.

Can Sphynx cats overheat? ›

(Sphynx cats are notoriously cuddly in part because they're trying to steal our body heat.) However, given their high metabolisms, sphynx cats can also overheat easily.

How often do you bathe Sphynx cats? ›

This article has been viewed 106,593 times. The Sphynx is a rare breed of cat known for not having fur. Their skin needs to be washed about once a week. Because sphynx skin tends to be oily, they are prone to feline acne and bacteria buildup.

Are Sphynx cats intelligent? ›

Another extrovert type, the Sphynx is an energetic, highly intelligent, curious and affectionate cat, described by many as being almost dog-like in their friendliness to both family and strangers.

Are Sphynx cats talkative? ›

With Sphynx cats being so warm and affectionate, they are very dependent on their owners and crave active involvement in their lives, which is why they tend to 'talk' a lot. This is an ideal breed for patient owners looking for a chatty cat to keep them company.

Are Sphynx loyal? ›

Despite their alien-like appearance, the Sphynx cat is one of the friendliest and most playful, energetic, and loyal companions. These furless felines are motivated by people and want to impress and snuggle up to their humans. Many people say these affectionate cats are part dog, part cat!

What problems do Sphynx cats have? ›

Most Common Sphynx Cat Problems:

Body temperature regulation. Ear infections. Periodontal disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Do Sphynx cats sleep with you? ›

These cats are incredibly loving and will greet you at the door and sleep on your lap, but they also need a lot of companionship and regular grooming, which makes them higher maintenance than most cat breeds. Kinsey the Blue Sphynx, hanging out on his cat tree.

Which cat is most calm? ›

Calmest Cat Breeds
  • Birman. This slightly larger breed is simply gorgeous, but it's not just its stunning stature that makes it worthy of note. ...
  • British Shorthair. The British Shorthair is a medium-sized breed with a short, sleek coat and a powerful build. ...
  • Japanese Bobtail. ...
  • Persian. ...
  • Ragamuffin.
8 Jan 2015

Do Sphynx like cuddling? ›

They are highly playful, and will find diverse activities around the house to keep entertained. And when they're not on the go, they love cuddling and resting on your lap. Sphynx cats serve as excellent therapy pets because of their warm nature, great sense of humor and genuine love for meeting new people.

What do Sphynx cats smell like? ›

People joke about them smelling like mushroom soup or a potato. That just means it's time to wash or wipe them down. But I really wouldn't say our two smell of much at all.

Do Sphynx cats need special food? ›

Like all cats, the Sphynx breed requires a species-appropriate food that nourishes them according to their natural biological needs. Because Sphynx cats have so little hair on their bodies, a healthy, high-quality diet is critical to maintaining the health of their skin.

Are Sphynx good with dogs? ›

Clever, sociable and energetic, the Sphynx gets along with other cats, dogs and children, but doesn't like being left alone for long periods of time.

Do Sphynx cats poop more? ›

Sphynx cats have fast metabolisms

Because this cat breed has a fast metabolism, the Sphynx cat eats more than the average cat—which means she poops more, too.

What should Sphynx cats eat? ›

Sphynx will generally thrive on the nutrition of a quality adult cat food. For Sphynx who need help with weight management, consider a healthy weight formula. Sphynx kittens should eat a kitten food for their first year of life to aid in their growth and development.

Are Sphynx cats sensitive to the sun? ›

It's not just humans who need protection from the sun – did you know that cats can also get sunburn? The most susceptible areas are the ears and nose, particularly in cats with white ears and/or noses, and Sphynx cats, as there is little hair or melanin to protect them.

Can you use baby wipes on Sphynx cat? ›

The short answer is no, you can't safely use baby wipes on cats. That's because even the mildest unscented baby wipes contain some kind of ingredient that's harmful or unpleasant to your cat. While not all are poisonous, there are much better ways to keep your cat clean.

Why do Sphynx cats pee everywhere? ›

There could be several reasons your cat is peeing everywhere. Causes include medical problems, aversion to the litter and litterbox, marking behaviours, poor house training, and social and environmental stressors.

Why do Sphynx cats shake? ›

Hypoglycemia is one of the most common reasons for why your cat is shaking. Hypoglycemia is a deficiency of glucose, which means your cat's low blood sugar and the shivers or shakes might both be symptoms of the disease. It is often caused by them not eating for an extended period of time.

How cold is too cold for a Sphynx cat? ›

By not having the fur that makes them more resistant to temperature changes, these cats need to be around 20 degrees. So if your house is not at this temperature you should put clothes, blankets or ventilation.

Do Sphynx cats need to wear clothes? ›

So, do Sphynx cats need to wear clothes? No, Sphynx cats do not need to wear clothes. Sphynx cats have an average body temperature between 99.5-102.5F (37.5-39.1C) – higher than cats with fur. During warmer months, or when living in tropical climes, they may be comfortable without clothes.

Should I put sunscreen on my Sphynx? ›

Apply Sunblock

Although sunburn can occur if any pet spends too much time in the sun, hairless pets and those with only one coat of hair are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the sun.

Can Sphynx cats go outdoors? ›

Sphynx cats are indoor cats but they can also go outside. However, there are some precautions to take as they are prone to getting sunburns. Also, there is always the risk of them picking up viruses and bacteria. But with safeguards, your sphynx can surely spend some time outside.

Should I let my Sphynx outside? ›

It's also worth noting that Sphynx cats shouldn't be let outside. Beyond the issues that come with regulating temperature in cold weather, Sphynxes' lack of fur means they're very prone to sunburn.

What happens if you don't bathe a Sphynx? ›

Unlike furred cats, hairless cats don't have a thick coat to wick it away, which leads to an oily buildup on their skin. If your cat isn't bathed frequently, they may leave an oily residue behind on your furniture and bedding.

Do Sphynx cats eat a lot? ›

You should expect your Sphynx cat to need more food than other breeds of cat you might keep. They tend to remain slim by nature, however, over-feeding of any cat no matter what its breed is not recommended. Keep them lean for optimum health (thus this will also keep your future vet bills down).

How much should a Sphynx cat eat a day? ›

They should be fed 4-6 oz per feeding, per cat.

Are Sphynx cats bigger than cats? ›

Sphynx are considered a medium-size cat; females can weigh as little as 6 pounds, while larger males can tip the scales at 14 pounds.

Is a Sphynx cat a good pet? ›

Beyond the issues that come with regulating temperature in cold weather, Sphynxes' lack of fur means they're very prone to sunburn. Both Dr. Verrilli and Kranz say that Sphynx cats make wonderful pets, if you're able to put in the extra time and effort that their care requires.

What health problems do Sphynx cats have? ›

Cats such as the Sphynx can suffer from the following health problems: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - A progressive condition of heart muscle thickening, leading to heart problems. Hereditary myopathy - A genetic condition causing muscle weakness.

Are Sphynx cats good for allergies? ›

Sphynx cats are the first breed most often associated with being hypoallergenic. Unlike other breeds, the hairless Sphynx does not shed any Fel D1 protein saturated fur around the house – the allergen just stays on their skin.

Do Sphynx cats hate water? ›

Sphynx. Because of their lack of hair, the Sphynx needs to be bathed regularly from an early age on and as a result, often likes being in the water, said Joan Miller, chair of outreach and education for the Cat Fanciers' Association.

How often do you clean Sphynx ears? ›

She requires weekly bathing and daily sponging to prevent oil buildup on her skin. Sphynxes often have serious problems with their teeth, so you'll need to brush them at least three times a week! Check her ears weekly for wax, debris, or signs of infection and clean when necessary.

How long do Sphynx cats live in cat years? ›

Life span: The Sphynx has a life expectancy of around 15 years.

Are Sphynx cats sensitive? ›

The Sphynx should be kept indoors only as they are highly sensitive to the cold and are easily sunburnt. The Sphynx is a highly active and affectionate companion often described as part cat, part dog, and part monkey.

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