Personality and Temperament
If you’re looking for a friendly cat with a big personality, the Sphynx might be ideal. Bonus points if you’re hoping for a pet that doesn’t shed, as these hairless cats are either completely free of hair or are covered in the barest layer of fine, velvety down.
With bold features and an intense gaze, the Sphynx might not appear to be the friendliest cat on the planet, but don’t let this cat's stern espression deceive you! The Sphynx is a gregarious, personable cat with lots of love to share with everyone, including strangers and other pets. Quick to greet their family members at the door and just as fast to cuddle under the covers when bedtime arrives, Sphynx cats take every possible opportunity to socialize.
Without adequate companionship, the Sphynx quickly becomes despondent, bored, and destructive. These cats absolutely hate to be left alone, and while they’re spending time with you, they have a tendency to offer unsolicited help and advice. Loud meows can give way to unrelenting wails if you try to confine a Sphynx to its own space, making these cats unsuitable for families that don’t want a high level of involvement from their pet.
Last but not least, Sphynx cats need to be kept warm and protected from the elements. These cats can’t live outdoors where they’ll suffer from sunburn, windburn, cold, and injuries to their delicate skin.Even inside, Sphynx look for the warmest possible place to rest. Offer a heated cat bed, and you’ll know exactly where to find your Sphynx when it’s time to play. If your Sphynx wants to sunbathe near a window or door, use a pet sunscreen to protect their exposed skin.
High-quality food is essential for Sphynx cats, as lower-quality cat food can lead to skin problems and cause excess oil production. Look for a brand that’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and that incorporates real meat or fish as the primary ingredient.
You might think that the Sphynx cat requires very little in terms of grooming. It's true that these cats don't need brushing, but they do require fairly frequent bathing to remove excess oil that can lead to greasy buildup and skin irritation. Frequency varies depending on the individual cat, but most Sphynx need a bath every one to four weeks. Use a gentle cat shampoo and warm water that feels comfortable on your own skin.
Check your Sphynx cat’s ears frequently, as well. If you notice debris deep inside the ear, have your vet or a professional groomer provide a cleaning. Between deep cleanings, wipe away greasy residue with a cotton ball that has been moistened with a pet ear cleanser.
At-home dental care can help keep your Sphynx healthier for a lifetime, so consider brushing their teeth daily. Feline toothpaste comes in flavors cats enjoy, making this task a bit easier once they know what to expect.
Sphynx cats are prone to buildup between their toes, so wash their paws a few times per week prevent skin infections. It’s a good idea to clip your cat’s toenails regularly, too. This routine is simplest when you start from a young age. With time, your cat will accept it without making too much of a fuss.
Sphynx cats are capable athletes with strong, sinewy muscles. These cats get lots of exercise following their people around and playing with other pets, but provide opportunities to jump and climb via cat condos or cat trees, and one or more scratching posts. Offer plenty of toys to engage your Sphynx and keep them in great shape.
Unfortunately, Sphynx cats do have some known health issues, including an increased incidence of a type of heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In addition, some Sphynx are prone to an inherited neuromuscular disorder called congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS).
Sphynx cats are also prone to periodontal disease, making routine teeth cleaning essential. Skin irritation can happen with some frequency, making these cats a bit more high-maintenance in the skin-care department than cats with fur.
There are quite a few stories about the origins of the Sphynx cat. Feline geneticists believe that the Sphynx we know today might share some similarities with Aztec or Mexican hairless cats, which were last documented in the early 1900s.
The Sphynx cat breed as we know it today got its start in 1966, when a black and white cat gave birth to a hairless kitten named Prune in Ontario, Canada. After reaching maturity, Prune was mated to other cats, resulting in kittens with hair as well as hairless kittens. These cats, along with a few other hairless cats born in, were used as the foundation for a new breed that was originally called the Canadian Hairless Cat.
The breed had a very difficult start due to limited genetics. In the 1970s, breeders paired the hairless cats born in separate litters in Toronto and Minnesota (named Epidermis, Punkie, and Paloma) with Devon Rex cats, a breed with a very sparse hair coat. People began calling the breed the Sphynx due to the hairless cats' resemblance to the ancient Egyptian Sphinx figure.
To maintain genetic diversity, The International Cat Association (TICA) breed standard allows outcrossing to the American Shorthair and Devon Rex. According to the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) breed standard, Sphynx born on or after December 31, 2023, may have only Sphynx parents.
Did You Know?
No cat is completely hypoallergenic, and this includes the Sphynx. Some people with cat allergies find that their symptoms worsen around hairless cats, while others can live comfortably with a hairless breed like the Sphynx. If you are allergic to cats and you want a Sphynx, be sure to spend time in a home where adult Sphynx cats live to see if you have a reaction.
The Sphynx cat displays a wide range of markings on its skin, from solid colors to points to tabbies and harlequins.
Sphynx cat clothing is getting easier to find, as many families opt to help their pets stay warm by dressing them.
The Breed Standard
Legs & Paws
Where To Find a Sphynx Cat or Kitten
The Sphynx is a popular cat breed, but it would be unusual to find them in animal shelters. If you have your heart set on adopting a Sphynx, check local cat rescue groups as adult Sphynx might occasionally end up in rescue.
You can look for a Sphynx in need of rescue by searching Petfinder or visiting your local animal shelter (you never know!). When adopting, it’s possible that you might find a hairless cat that is not necessarily a pedigreed Sphynx, or you could come across a Sphynx mix.
Finding a Sphynx kitten should be easier, as there are many Sphynx breeders who have Sphynx kittens for sale. It’s important to do your research to find a reputable breeder. Ethical breeders provide appropriate care and living conditions for their adult breeding cats and kittens.
Responsible breeders test their adult cats for genetic diseases before breeding them to reduce the chances of passing on health issues to kittens. To start your search, visit the breeder referral pages of the Cat Fanciers’ Association and The International Cat Association.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a Sphynx cat cost?
A pet-quality Sphynx kitten usually costs anywhere from $1,800 to $3,000.
Is a Sphynx cat a good pet?
Sphynx are extremely people-oriented and affectionate companions. They want nothing more than to be with their favorite people, preferably snuggled up in your lap or under the covers. They get along great with people or all ages, as well as other cats and gentle dogs. Because Sphynx thrive on human attention, they are not a great choice for people who are away from the home for many hours a day.
Do Sphynx cats have a lot of health problems?
Sphynx cats are generally healthy, although like all pedigreed cats, certain genetic disorders can affect some individuals. Two known genetic diseases found in the Sphynx breed are a type of heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and an inherited neuromuscular disorder called congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS). Sphynx cats also need special skin care, including regular bathing, and protection from the sun and cold weather.
Do Sphynx cats shed a lot?
Sphynx cats are hairless or nearly hairless, so they don’t shed. However, the lack of fur causes oils on the skin to build up, so Sphynx need regular baths to keep their skin clean and free from irritation.
Do hairless cats get fleas?
Yes, hairless cats like the Sphynx can get fleas. These parasites don’t need hair to feed off the blood of their host. However, on a hairless cat you should be able to easily see fleas and flea dirt (flea feces, which looks like brown or red specks), so you can take quick action to remove them from your Sphynx.