Hidden Muscles: The Sphynx breed is known for a sturdy, heavy body, a wedge-shaped head, and an alert, friendly temperament. Delicate as they may appear, Sphynx tend to be well-muscled and robustly healthy, with a few obvious weaknesses.
Sit by the Fire: It is essential to keep
a Sphynx cat warm and away from drafts, especially during kittenhood, as they
have no more protection from cold
than a naked human. Sphynxes
are also prone to sunburn and sunstroke because they lack the normal protection of fur. They tend to get dirty and greasy, since their skin produces the same
oils as a fully-furred cat, but the oil is
not spread over fur as usual. As pets they are notably more social than "normal" cats, and happier to be handled, but
also require more maintenance
including weekly bathing and ear-cleaning. Their natural bathing habits tend to be
ineffective on skin, so the owner must compensate
Handkerchief, please: Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic, in fact they can be even worse for severely allergic people than furred cats. Because they don't deposit hair on furniture or clothing, they tend to be less troublesome to mildly allergic owners. Some notice symptoms but handle it by bathing and cleaning them slightly more often than one would otherwise.
Hairless: how and why? Hairless cats have been reported throughout history (hairless cats seem to appear naturally about every 15 years or so), and breeders in Canada have been working on the Sphynx breed since the early 1960's. Still, the current American and European Sphynx breed is descended from two lines of natural mutations:
* Dermis and Epidermis (1975) from the Pearsons of Wadena, MN, USA and
* Bambi, Punkie, and Paloma (1978) found in Toronto, ON, Canada and raised by Shirley Smith.
Other hairless breeds might have different body shapes or temperaments than those described above. There are, for example, new hairless breeds, including the Don Sphynx and the Peterbald from Russia, which arose from their own spontaneous mutations. The standard for the Sphynx differs between TICA and FIFE.
Balding Genes: Sphynx hairlessness is produced by an allele of the same gene that produces the Devon Rex, which has only one of the usual two fur coats. The Sphynx allele is incompletely dominant over the Devon allele; both are recessive to the wild type. Sphynx were at one time crossbred with Devon Rex in an attempt to strengthen this gene, but unfortunately this led to serious dental or nervous-system problems
and is now forbidden in most breed standards associations. The only allowable outcross breeds in the CFA are now the American Shorthair and Domestic Shorthair. Other associations have different rules. In Europe mainly the Devon Rex has
been used for outcrosses.
Sphynx Star: A well-known Sphynx is SGC Belfry Ted Nude-Gent who is in the Austin Powers movies. He plays the part of Mr. Bigglesworth, Dr. Evil's cat.
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