A controversial nude cat: the unique hairless Sphynx

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Sphynx cat with blue eyes and curved whiskers

The Sphynx: you like ’em or you hate ’em. This special breed from Canada is the cause of much discussion in the cat world. A gentle temperament and special appearance are positive features of this breed, but this is often accompanied by health problems due to ‘torture breeding’. Curious about this breed? Then read on!

Where does the Sphynx come from?

Although these cats are named after the famous Sphinx statues from ancient Egypt, they come from Toronto, Canada. At the time, this breed was called the ‘Canadian hairless’. Due to a genetic mutation an almost hairless cat was born, and this mutation was selectively maintained.

Where has the fur gone?

A Sphynx can be born with no fur and no whiskers, or with a soft peach fur. So a naked cat is not always completely naked: Sphynxes with peach-fur therefore feel surprisingly soft. A naked cat with fur and whiskers is in most cases a lot healthier than one without fur, this is because a healthy fur and whiskers have many important properties. Firstly, whiskers are very important during navigation. They allow a cat to sense if it can easily climb through a tight space. Cats without whiskers therefore often get stuck in tight spaces. Secondly, a coat is important for protection against temperature differences, sunshine and attacks from other cats, for example. So a Sphynx needs special care compared to most cats.

Sphynx cat with peach-fur and green eyes

How do I care for the skin of a Sphynx?

Because this is a special breed, it is important to educate yourself about its care. This breed may not have a thick coat, but that doesn’t mean you will spend less time caring for it. A coat keeps a cat clean and safe. Because the naked cat has (almost) no coat, you have to do this for him. First, this cat needs a weekly bath to get rid of excess body oil and to clean out clogged pores. You do this with a special shampoo that repels fungus. This breed is prone to skin problems, so a good bath is a must. Don’t forget to clean between the wrinkles!

Secondly, as with other cats, you have to make sure that the ears are kept clean to prevent infections. Make sure the nails don’t get too long and go to the vet at least once a year for a check-up.

Is the cat often outside in winter? Many owners give their naked cat a comfortable outfit to compensate for the lack of fur. The same applies in summer: this cat’s skin burns easily, so make sure you protect it properly with for example special cat sun cream. Ask your vet for more information on this.

I am allergic to cats, so should I get a naked cat?

Too bad! A Sphynx is not hypoallergenic. A cat allergy is not only caused by the fur of a cat, but also often by dander and saliva. No cat is 100% hypoallergenic, but many allergic people claim not to get sick from for example the Siberian Forest cat and the Bengal.  

white Sphynx kitten on an orange sofa

Character traits of this breed

A Sphynx is very attached to its owner and gets along well with visitors and other pets. As with any cat, it is very important to socialise well with other people and animals from a young age. Due to its curious nature, this breed often welcomes new guests at the door. These sweet cats will not only lie down next to you to warm you up, but also just because they like it!

Because this is an intelligent breed, you can teach them tricks relatively easily. They love to play, run around and make acrobatic jumps and find creative ways to entertain themselves. Many cats don’t mind being left alone for a while, but the Sphynx prefers to be with its owner as often as possible. Don’t be surprised if this cat follows you from room to room!

What diseases and disorders can the Sphynx get?

Like many breeds, this breed is at risk of the heart disease HCM. This is a disease that causes the heart muscle to thicken. Read more about it on this website.

Because of its lack of fur, this breed is at an increased risk of skin cancer. Make sure your cat is protected from the sun. This cat can also get a disease called Urticaria Pigmentosa, which causes sores on the skin.

Good breeders scan all their cats for health problems, so if you want to adopt a pedigree cat, always adopt it from a certified breeder. If you adopt a Sphynx from a good breeder and take good care of the cat throughout its life, this breed can live to be 15 years old.

White-grey sphynx kitten sleeping

Facts and trivia

1.            To compensate for its lack of fur, the body temperature of the Sphynx is slightly higher.

2.            Because of this, this breed has a high metabolism and therefore eats a little more than other cats of the same weight.

3.            They can get sunburnt, just like people.

4.            In Russia this breed is associated with magic. In this country the Sphynx cat is considered a symbol of luck and abundance.

Where do I adopt a Sphynx?

Logically, you do not buy a cat from a bread breeder. These breeders breed for profit, not for health, welfare and love of the breed. Buying a cat on Marktplaats or Ebay is often not a good idea either. Look for a licensed cattery, certified breeder, or a good shelter. Although it is tempting to take home the first cute cat you come across, it is wise to inform yourself before you adopt.


Petrebels is not a vet or a behaviourist: all content, information and tips on this blog are meant to inspire you and are of an informative nature. Does your cat have complaints or problems? Or do you have doubts about your cat’s health? Always go to the vet or a behaviourist.

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