Sphynx cats stand out among other breeds due to their lack of fur. These hairless cats have a regal appearance that might lead you to believe they’ve been around since ancient times, and were once worshiped as gods, but the breed only came into existence as recently as the 1960s.
There are a few other myths about Sphynx cats that we'll clear up in our breed profile below. We'll also share some important facts you should know about caring for these hairless felines if you're considering adding one to your family.
Table of Contents:
- History of the Sphynx cat
- Sphynx breed overview
- Personality of a Sphynx cat
- How to care for a Sphynx cat
- Sphynx cat pros vs cons
- Where to get a Sphynx
- FAQs about Sphynx cats
History of the Sphynx cat
Aliases: Felix catus, Hairless Kitten, the Canadian Sphynx
Though it’s true the Aztecs bred hairless cats centuries ago, the Sphynx we know today is a Canadian breed originating out of Toronto in 1966 after a random genetic mutation occurred in a litter of Domestic Shorthair kittens, causing them to be born without hair. Originally named the Canadian hairless, these fur-less felines were later renamed after the mythical sphinx of ancient Egypt, which were rumored to be the pets of pharaohs.
Over time, the breed made its way to the United States and later to Europe, developing its own set of standards. The Sphynx cat breed eventually became recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 2002 and The International Cat Association in 2005.
After the accidental discovery of the genetic mutation, some breeders took a liking to the naturally hairless cats and began selectively breeding them, hoping to pass the mutation down to their own litters.
Though these early attempts to breed the hairless trait were unsuccessful, Sphynx cats became more popular as word spread about their unique appearance and playful personalities. They also made great companions for people with allergies, as their hairless coats are virtually free of dander.
Sphynx breed overview
Sphynx cats are medium-sized cats with muscular bodies and prominent cheekbones, giving them a regal look, much like the Egyptian Sphinx. The most well-known trait of the Sphynx is their iconic hairless bodies. However, their lack of hair doesn't mean they lack color; Sphynx cats can be any color genetically possible.
Sphynx cats are one of the most popular cat breeds in The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) today because of their unique looks, sturdy boning, and excellent muscle development.
This active breed is a fantastic athlete with a medium-sized, muscular build. The Sphynx has an elegant walk due to their thick paw pads, which some say give them the appearance of walking on cushions. Their tapering tail and large ears add to their robust stature.
Average weight of a Sphynx cat
Male Sphynx: 8 - 12 pounds
Female Sphynx: 6 - 10 pounds
*Please keep in mind that these weights are averages. Every cat is unique and will have a different ideal weight based on their health, age, size, etc.
Sphynx cats are nearly hairless. They may have a peach fuzz coating of hair, typically shorter than 1/8 inch in length.
- Blue Sphynx
- Sphynxiebob (hybrid between Sphynx and American bobtail)
The Sphynx lifespan is a shorter than other cat breeds, averaging between 8 and 14 years, while other felines can live for 17 years or more.1
The Sphynx is a predominantly healthy breed, but they are prone to certain health issues in cats, including skin problems, ear infections, dental disease, and hereditary conditions.
Given their hairless nature, Sphynx cats are genetically predisposed to sunburn and struggle to regulate their body temperature. They will need help keeping their skin in healthy condition, free of excess oils. Otherwise, excessive oil buildup can cause health issues in the Sphynx, including urticaria pigmentosa, which causes itchiness and little, red bumps on the skin. It may also contribute to ear wax issues that can lead to infection. All cats are predisposed to periodontal (gum) disease, but the Sphynx may be more susceptible to dental problems due to their high-protein diets.
Finally, hereditary myopathy is a condition common among the breed characterized by general muscle weakness that can show up between the ages of three and 23 weeks old. However, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (or HCM, the most common form of myopathy) can develop at any age and is frequently observed in Shynx cats, so your veterinarian should regularly screen for it during annual wellness checkups.
Personality of a Sphynx cat
Many are surprised by the warm, affectionate nature of a Sphynx cat considering their stern, austere appearance. They have a great sense of humor and can cleverly find ways to entertain themselves. They also love to keep warm by snuggling up in the laps of their owner, and are often compared to dogs due to their need for attention.
Keep reading for a breakdown of individual personality traits that comprise the Sphynx temperament. A 5/5 rating indicates "very much embodies," and a 1/5, meaning "does not at all embody."
- Intelligence: 4/5
Sphynx cats are inquisitive, naturally curious, and able to learn tricks.
- Affectionate: 4/5
Sphynx cats are affectionate and want to be involved in everything you do. They enjoy the company of others but may resist being carried or picked up.
- Independence: 2/5
It's recommended that Sphynx cats are not left alone for long periods because of their people-oriented nature and need for attention.2
- Vocalization: 5/5
This loud breed is very talkative and will use a combination of squeaks, whines, and chirps to tell their loved ones how much they care.
- Playfulness: 4/5
Sphynx cats are known for their goofy nature, contrasting with their more serious look.
- Family-Friendly: 3/5
This hairless cat breed loves being the center of attention. However, they can be overwhelmed in a noisy environment with rambunctious children or pets.
- Likes Other Pets: 2/5
Sphynx cats value a calm, quiet environment. They will warm up to other pets with an easygoing temperament.
How to care for a Sphynx cat
You may not think a cat breed with little-to-no hair would require grooming. However, Sphynx cats are a high-maintenance breed that requires regular baths. Unlike cats with fur, a Sphinx cannot absorb body oils on their hairless skin, leaving them with excessive body oils. Most reputable breeders recommend bathing your Sphynx weekly and giving them a gentle ear cleaning to prevent a build-up of earwax.
Exercise & enrichment
This mischievous breed needs plenty of activity to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Your Sphynx cat will love hunter simulation games, puzzle games, and anything else that puts them at the center of attention.
Outdoors vs indoors
Sphynx cats are indoor cats. Their absence of hair makes them especially susceptible to cold weather and sunburns. Since they struggle to maintain a warm body temperature, they will commonly seek heat by laying in sunny windows, under blankets, or on top of warm appliances or electronics.
Sphynx food & nutrition
A high-quality diet is a must-have for Sphynx cats in order to help them control their oil production and maintain the health of their skin. A diet high in protein is necessary for them to maintain a higher body temperature. Feeding your Sphynx multiple times daily supports their metabolism and high energy levels.3
Cost of care
Pet supplies, grooming maintenance, blood tests, and HCM heart scans required to care for a Sphynx cat add up to about $2,000 in the first year of ownership.4
Sphynx cat pros & cons
Top reasons to get a Sphynx cat
- Sphynx cats make great companions because they are generally sociable and dependent on those around them. They’re often happy to be the household greeter and meet new guests at the door.
- They can be excellent therapy pets due to their affectionate nature and love of cuddling.
- People who are allergic to cat hair may experience significantly fewer allergens with a Sphynx cat in the house.
- Sphynx cats are active and curious, which makes for a great breed choice if you enjoy playing interactive and stimulating games with your pet.
Top Reasons to NOT Get a Sphynx Cat
- They are very talkative. If you prefer a quiet environment at home, a Sphynx cat is probably not the right breed for you.
- Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic. Despite being hairless, Sphynx cats still produce dander, which commonly causes allergic reactions in humans.
- They need a calm environment. You may want to look at a different cat breed if you have young children or other high-energy pets.
Where to get a Sphynx cat
On average, a purebred Sphynx costs between $1,500 to $5,000 from a reputable breeder. If you adopt a Sphynx, it will cost you much less, with adoption fees typically around $100.
Selecting a Reputable Sphynx Breeder
Look for reputable Sphynx breeders through local cat shows, online research, or better yet, a cat association's website's list of breeders, who typically need to meet specific standards to be in the breeding program.
Adopt From a Sphynx Rescue Organization
Sphynx cats are a popular breed that rarely ends up in shelters. However, specific rescue organizations, like the Sphynx Open Arms Rescue, may have cats available to be rehomed.
FAQs about Sphynx cats
How long do Sphynx cats live?
Sphynx cats live six to twelve years on average.
Are Sphynx cats nice to pet?
Yes, Sphynx cats are nice to pet. Many describe their hairless skin as feeling like a hot water bottle or soft suede.
Are Sphynx cats unhealthy?
Like any purebred cat, Sphynx cats are prone to certain genetic health conditions. However, they are generally considered a healthy breed and can live a long and healthy life with annual health checkups, optimal lifestyle choices, and plenty of love.
How expensive is a Sphynx cat?
A Sphynx cat will generally cost between $1,500 and $3,000 if you purchase them from a breeder.
- The Royal Veterinary College, “Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary-care veterinary practices in England,” Accessed September 22, 2022.
- Countryside Veterinary Clinic, “Sphynx” Accessed September 22, 2022.
- The Cat Fancier’s Association, “About the Sphynx” Accessed September 22, 2022.
- Nocoatkitty, “How much does a Sphynx kitten cost?” Accessed September 22, 2022.