First attempts at breeding Sphynx began in 1966, when a black and white cat gave birth to a hairless kitten in Ontario, Canada. The owner named the hairless kitten Prune, due to the wrinkled hairless skin. Prune was bred to other cats in an attempt to create more hairless kittens. Because hairlessness is a recessive gene, some of the kittens resulting from this union had hair, while others did not. These kittens were called Canadian Hairless Cats, which some people referred to as Sphynx cats, due to their physical similarities with an ancient Egyptian cat sculpture called the Sphinx. Between 1975 and 1978, several natural mutations of hairless kittens were found in Minnesota and Toronto. These kittens, named Epidermis, Punkie, and Paloma, were bred to Devon Rex, another breed with very little body hair. The Sphynx breed traces its history to the offspring of these unions. TICA has recognized this breed for over 20 years and there are now several thousand Sphynx registered in the world.
The Sphynx is an inquisitive, intelligent, and extremely friendly cat. Warm and soft to the touch, Sphynx frequently sleep with their owners under the covers. The term "Velcro lap cat" used to describe the desire of the Sphynx to be on you all the time, is very accurate. Sphynx love to greet every new person visiting the home, and most get along well with dogs and other pets. Because of their hairlessness, Sphynx have a tendency to get cold but they are intelligent enough to find a warm place- usually a computer monitor, a sunny window, a television, or under a blanket with their owners. Sphynx are highly active and will entertain themselves for hours and some Sphynx even fetch toys. Many Sphynx owners describe their cats as elf-like or childlike due to their inquisitive and intelligent nature. Sphynx are loyal and dedicated to their owners and make very affectionate companions for everyone.
The Sphynx is one of a few hairless breeds. Striking and distinctive in appearance, they do not lack hair entirely. Fine down covers the skin of most Sphynx, giving the skin a chamois or suede-like texture. Light hair is usually visible on the nose and backs of the ears. Sphynx come in a variety of colors, including solid, particolor, tabby, tortoiseshell, and are recognized in all four of TICA's categories: Traditional, Pointed, Mink, and Sepia. Their color is viewed on the pigment of the skin and on the few hairs (down) they have. Perhaps their second most distinguishable feature is their huge ears, frequently more than 2 or 3 inches in height.
The Sphynx also has an open and sweet expression, greatly facilitated by the large lemon shaped eyes. This is a sturdy medium-boned, athletic and highly muscular cat. The belly of the Sphynx should give the appearance of having recently eaten a large meal. Because of their friendly nature, Sphynx often make excellent show cats as they are highly accepting of new people and easy to handle. Because of their lack of absorbent coat, Sphynx tend to get oily and need to be bathed often, but they are not hypo-allergenic. While some individuals with allergies find they are not allergic to Sphynx, others discover they are allergic but usually to a lesser extent.
Health Issues Common to Sphynx
All pedigreed cats have some sort of health problem, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The Sphynx is generally healthy, but he may develop certain conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and a neurological disease called hereditary myopathy.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats and causes enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your Sphynx, an echocardiogram conducted by a veterinary cardiologist can confirm whether he has HCM. Avoid breeders who claim to have HCM-free lines. No one can guarantee that their cats will never develop HCM.
Hereditary myopathy affects muscle function. It eventually causes death when the cat is no longer able to swallow. Fortunately, the condition is rare and breeders are working hard to eradicate it from the breed. It is always wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.
Pet Insurance for Sphynx
Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.