The sphynx is a cat breed that can get the whole neighborhood talking. Once he moves in, be prepared for visitors who want to check out his warm, fuzzy skin and marvel at his large ears and seemingly prehensile tail. The sphynx cat has a lot going for him, from his looks to his charming personality.

Physical characteristics of the sphynx cat

The most striking physical characteristic of the sphynx is his apparent lack of fur. The sphynx may in fact, have short hairs present on the feet, ears, and tail, but the majority of the skin is covered in a fine fuzz. Heterozygous sphynxes, who possess only one copy of the hairless gene, generally have more hair than homozygous sphynxes, who possess two copies of the gene.

Owing to the lack of fur, the sphynx tends to feel warmer to the touch than furred cats.

Despite the sphynx’s lack of fur, it can come in any color or pattern; the color is seen in the pigment of the skin and in the small amount of hair that is present.

The next most obvious physical trait of sphynx cats is their incredibly large ears. Their ears are tall and wide at their base, and together with their large eyes, they give the breed an alien-like appearance.

Personality and temperament of the sphynx cat

If you’re looking for a low-key cat, you’ll need to look somewhere other than the sphynx. This lively breed loves to perform, and their penchant for high places will have them scaling curtains and perching on even the highest cabinets.

Sphynx are highly lovable and return your affection in spades. They have dog-like tendencies, and you may catch them wagging their tails from time to time or even engaging you in a game of fetch. They are intelligent and demanding, yet cuddly and devoted. Curiosity also drives this breed; you may find your sphynx to be in your business non-stop as he demands your attention and affection.

Common health concerns for the sphynx cat

The sphynx is a generally healthy breed, with an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. But, like many purebred cats, they can be prone to some health conditions. Common concerns in this “hairless” breed include:

Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

The most common cardiac disease to affect cats, HCM causes the muscular heart walls to thicken, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump efficiently. HCM can cause congestive heart failure, fatal arrhythmias, and blood clots. Sudden death can occur with no previous signs of heart disease.

Oily seborrhea

Seborrhea is the alteration of normal skin cell growth or turnover. Affected cats have increased scale formation and excessive greasiness of the skin and hair. Seborrheic cats are prone to bacterial and fungal infections of the skin.

Otitis externa

In addition to producing more oil than your average cat, the sphynx breed also produces more ceruminous debris (earwax). Care should be taken to clean and monitor the ears regularly to prevent ear infections, otherwise known as otitis externa.

Other health concerns may include:

  • Neonatal isoerythrolysis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypotrichosis
  • Skin infections
  • Hypothermia
  • Sunburn

Caring for the sphynx cat

Sphynx cats don’t have plush coats through which natural oils can be distributed, so they tend to need regular (bi-weekly) bathing to remove oily buildup. Because most sphynx have been bathed since kittenhood, they are content with being bathed.

Because they lack fur, sphynx cats are prone to both getting cold and overheating. Care should be taken to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to protect sphynx from extreme weather.

Sphynx need regular at-home dental care to avoid developing periodontal disease. Daily toothbrushing with a pet-specific toothpaste is the gold standard. Sphynx cats should also have their dental health evaluated annually by a veterinarian.

Sphynx cats retain their wild instincts to scratch on furniture, carpet, or woodwork. This natural behavior serves to mark their territory, condition their claws, and stretch their bodies. Providing appropriate scratching substrates, like scratching posts or corrugated cardboard panels, and keeping your sphyx’s nails trimmed, will limit the damage done to personal property.

The sphynx is the perfect cat for you if:

  • You have the time to bathe your cat regularly
  • You want a cat with an unusual appearance
  • You want to dress your cat in sweaters
  • You are a single owner looking for companionship
  • You have a family with respectful children