Sphynx cats are indeed weird looking creatures. Characteristically different from the normal breeds of cats with hairless skin, these animals are adored by some and disgusted by others. Initially the product of a mutation in the gene pool, the sphinx cat is now regarded as a separate breed of cats through careful and practiced inbreeding. It is also called the Canadian hairless because of its origins in Canada when a shorthair mother cat produced a hairless kitten in 1966.
Sphynx cats have wedged shaped heads with huge ears and muscular bodies and thin, long tails. They can be completely hairless or can have patches of very fine hair on some parts of the body such as the neck, tail, ears and paws. Some species may have sparse whiskers and eyebrows while in other species it may be absent altogether. Their skin resembles that of chamois leather which also tends to be particularly wrinkled. While hair is an important mechanism of heat retention in all hairy creatures, the sphynx cats have a heat retention problem even though their wrinkles aid in heat retention to some extent. Nevertheless, this hairlessness delights cat lovers who do not have to dust hairs off furniture and would rather have their cats under their covers whenever it gets too cold. The cats also eat a lot to compensate for the energy needed to keep warm. They have an average life span of 8-15 years; Pierre, a French sphynx cat, lived for 34 years! The cats are said to particularly affectionate, fun loving, intelligent and cuddly.
Unlike their hairy counterparts who spend much of their time grooming, the sphinx cats regularly need to be washed because of the oil secreted by their skin; in hairy breeds, the oil is naturally absorbed by the hair or licked away. They also should avoid long exposures to the sun unless sun cream is applied because of their sensitive skin. This also means that during the cold they tend to huddle close to their masters or other animals in search of warmth. People allergic to cats find themselves more at ease with the sphynx cats because they are hairless. While the allergic response remains present since the causative agent is a protein found in cats’ salivary and sebaceous glands, psychological interpretation of the lack of hair makes the situation more comfortable to these people. Conversely, other people may find contact with the cat totally unbearable since the secretion from the sebaceous glands is more evident from the exposed skin.
Assigned as a proper breed in 2005, the sphinx cat’s popularity has gained much ground since then in the UK. The Sphynx Cat Association, which is an association for sphynx cats and their lovers, gives advice related to all these special cats’ matters. The craving for this weird creature should not be doubted when one realises that a single cat is worth £3000!