The Breed History
Hairless cats were reported long ago in Central America, and in Russia (Peterbald), but modern Canadian Sphynx (also spelled Sphinx) breed history began in Ontario Canada in 1966 with a mutation leading to alopecia universalis. This autosomal recessive mutation (hr) occurred again in Canada in 1978 where in Toronto, a Siamese breeder found two stray bald cats, and from this stock the modern breed was derived. These were first bred to a white Devon Rex male. Another mutation reportedly arose in Minnesota in 1975 and this cat was used for breeding. The breed made a cameo appearance in the Austin Powers movie as Dr. Evil's cat. Though early registration occurred when the initial mutation occurred, the breed was withdrawn from the fancy and reintroduced to the registry in the 1980s. TICA accepted them for championship status in the year 1986. The CCA accepted the breed in 1991 for championship status also. The CFA accepted the breed in the Miscellaneous Class in 1998 and it is now in Championship. This is the only widely recognized breed of hairless cat. Though early registration occurred when the initial mutation occurred, the breed was withdrawn from the fancy and reintroduced to the registry in the 1980s. TICA accepted them for championship status in the year 1986. The CCA accepted the breed in 1991 for championship status also. Currently, outcrossing to American Shorthair cats is allowed (books in CFA close for this breed in 2010). The CFA accepted the breed in the Miscellaneous Class in 1998 and it is now in Championship. This is the only widely recognized breed of hairless cat.
Weight: females 6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg), males 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg)
Coat: This cat breed is not truly hairless as many believe. There is a fine down cover described as "peach fuzz" or suede. Hairs must be less than 1/8th" long, and sometimes small short tufts of hair are found on tail tip, scrotum, brow, bridge of nose, back of ears, or outside of paws. All colors and patterns are accepted. Heterozygotes have more down than do homozygotes. May or may not have whiskers or brows. If present, whiskers may be short or break off easily.
Eyes: Lemon-gold eyes, slanted and large. Other colors are uncommon but accepted.
Points of Conformation: This medium sized lithe cat is characterized by the lack of haircoat guard hairs. Skin around the face, neck and shoulders is somewhat loose and wrinkled. The head is a modified wedge and long, high cheekbones are prominent. A moderate break is present, and nose is moderately long, and whisker pads are distinct. Ears are very large with no furnishings. The neck is long. The paws are oval-round and toes are long with thick pads. Tail is thin, long and tapered. Belly is full and potty, not a tubular profile like Oriental type breeds.
Grooming: These are oily cats and they require frequent sponge baths (weekly or bi-weekly). Some cats may require a seborrhea shampoo. Daily rubbing with a chamois is helpful to prevent oil buildup.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed traits include: Intelligent, playful, people-oriented, affectionate, curious, easy-going, and they love to purr. Gentle cats, they are not prone to being excessively vocal. They do well with other pets in the household. Some may be a bit demanding of attention and may follow people around the home. Very athletic, love to jump and climb. Enjoy the company of children.
Normal Breed Variations
High calorie intake is needed to counteract energy lost for warming. Sphynx cats exhibit poor temperature tolerance and need to wear sweaters in cool ambient temperatures; suitable for an indoor lifestyle only. They are vulnerable to sunburn. Has active sebaceous glands on body-oily secretions can have a brown color, skin may give off a rancid odor if oiliness is not controlled by wipes and baths. The body of the cat usually feels quite warm to touch Females may cycle less frequently than other queens; kittens may be born with some hair along the spine, which disappears
Blood Type B: Frequency of B blood type was reported to be 17%.
Sphynx Kitten Information Project:2 An Internet based survey was carried out to determine breed reproduction normal parameters April 2002-March 2003. Survey involved 18 breeders, 50 litters (mostly from Canada, US), 201 kittens: Average litter size 4 Stillbirth rate 5% Dystocia < 1%, of those 7% required C-section Average birth weight: Male 96 g female 95 g Congenital deformities (2.5% of litters) included: cleft palate, umbilical hernias.
None reported in the literature
Alopecia Universalis: This is the condition that these cats have been selected for. Note that it is not accompanied by adnexal abnormalities as in hypotrichosis.
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis (NI): The presence of B blood type in the breed would be expected to increased risk of NI reactions in kittens. The reported proportion of matings at risk for NI is 0.16.
Transfusion Reactions: The presence of B blood type in the breed leads to increased risk of adverse reactions.
Malassezia dermatitis: Especially paronychia HCM (anecdotal)
Rare and Isolated Cases
Spasticity/Hereditary Myopathy: An autosomal recessive mutation in the Devon Rex, a similar phenotypic presentation has been seen in Sphynx leading to abnormal deglutition; frequently leads to aspiration pneumonia-very similar to the Devon Rex Hereditary Myopathy, also termed Spasticity. A recent report indicates that a change in dystroglycan (DAG1) may be causing this problem in both Devon Rex and Sphynx, and the authors attempted to sequence the mutation.
Urticaria Pigmentosa: This condition has been found in related Sphynx cats. Dermal infiltration with mast cells is noted. In one report, three young cats developed multifocal lesions which in one cat led to significant pruritis that could be controlled with combined antihistamine (hydroxyzine) and glucocorticoids (prednisone) therapy.6 These cats had a common grandsire (clinically normal). The condition was of juvenile onset, was bilaterally symmetrical, erythematous, and trunk, limbs, neck and head were most affected. Some macules were dark brown and skin lesions tended to be linear. Peripheral eosinophilia and/or basophilia was often present. This was a cutaneous mastocytosis, not associated with systemic disease. Afflicted cats were negative for dermatographism.
Blood typing before breeding and transfusions
- Breed name synonyms: Hairless Cat (historical), Bald Cat, Sphinx, Canadian Hairless
- Registries: TICA, CCA, CFA, ACFA, CFF, NZCF, CCA, FIFe, ACF
- Breed resources: International Sphynx Society (CFA): www.classytouch.net
International Sphynx Breeders and Fanciers Association:
HC66, Box 70035
Pinetop AZ 85935
Sphynx Cat Association: http://www.hoosierkitties.com/breed/sphinx.htm
CFA Sphynx Breed Council: www.sphynxbc.org/
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