Monday, September 26, 2016

Cat Breeds: Sphynx

In the early 1900s, a cat resembling today's modern Sphynx was shown, but this cat was described as a New Mexican Hairless Cat. It was not recognized worldwide and it did not gain much attention, but it was the first time this type of cat had been exhibited. Though the same mutation appeared several times after this, sometimes in North America, sometimes in Europe, it wasn't until the 1960s that a real effort to create a breed from these cats truly started.

In 1966 a small black and white kitten was born in Ontario, Canada. This kitten had no hair, but did have a very fine down covering her entire body. This little female was named Prune and she would become the foundation cat for the modern Sphynx breed. She was bred to other cats in an attempt to generate more kittens with the hairless gene, but it turned out the gene was recessive. That meant breeding hairless kittens was difficult. Even once a male with the recessive gene was found, only one in four kittens would be hairless. Eventually, however, there were enough kittens to start a true breeding program.

At first these kittens were called Canadian Hairless Cats, but it wasn't long before people started calling them Sphynx. These cats were recognized provisionally by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1970, but the CFA withdrew its support due to concerns over genetic difficulties (especially its possibly compromised immune system). These concerns were eventually dismissed or corrected and today the Sphynx is recognized by several registries, including TICA.

The Appearance of the Sphynx

Medium in size, the Sphynx is muscular and athletic. The ears are truly huge and the eyes are the shape of ripe lemons. The ears and the eyes combine to give the Sphynx a sweet and open expression. Unless he's annoyed. This cat has the ability to look supremely vexed when he has to. It's almost eerie, the expressions the Sphynx is capable of.

The coat is really the most distinctive characteristic of the Sphynx. Though not truly hairless, this cat is as close as you can get. A fine down covers the entire body, making the skin feel like a soft suede. Acceptable colors and patterns are many and varied. You can have tabby, tortoiseshell, parti-color, and solid Sphynx cats. It's the coat type, not the color, that makes this cat.

Because this cat doesn't have real fur, he doesn't have anything to absorb the natural oils produced by the body. This means he'll get oily, so bathe your cat frequently. Twice a week should do it. If you neglect this simple task, expect to see a greasy spot in any place he's been napping. He also may get cold, so a sweater and a warm bed are a necessity. And sunblock for those sunny days because his delicate skin will burn. Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate brands for your feline friend or just keep him out of the sun.

Though generally thought of as hairless, a Sphynx isn't actually hypoallergenic. This is because most people are allergic to a particular feline protein, and this protein is contained in the saliva as well as the dander. So if you want a cat but you're allergic, before deciding on a Sphynx make sure you've spent some time with one so you know if you're allergic or not.

The Personality of the Sphynx

A Sphynx is almost like a little dog. He's loyal and loving and won't usually leave you alone. He's also fond of snuggling, and not just because he likes to be warm. He just loves to be close and he'll do whatever is necessary to accomplish that goal.

Highly intelligent, the Sphynx is a breed that will get into everything and anything. And while he loves you and your family, he's also just fine on his own. Unfortunately for you, these two traits mean trouble if he's left with nothing to occupy his time. So leave him a few good toys so he doesn't climb into the cupboard and pull out the flour for a good romp. Trust me when I tell you that getting flour off an oily Sphynx isn't a lot of fun. But a good Sphynx is one of the most entertaining of companions.

If you're looking for a unique cat who is loving and equally good with children and other pets, the Sphynx might be for you.

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