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Canadian Hairless Breed Description

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Breed Organization

TICA Executive Office

The Cat Fanciers' Association

Native Country
Canada, United States Of America, Europe

Other Names

Coat Length

Life Expectancy
No Information Available

General Description

The Sphynx is a breed of cat known for its lack of a coat. Lack of coat makes the cat quite warm to the touch. Whiskers and eyebrows may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent. The skin is the color their fur would be, and all the usual cat marking patterns (solid, point, van, tabby, tortie, etc.) may be found on Sphynx skin. Sphynxes generally have wedge-shaped heads and sturdy, heavy bodies. Standards call for a full round abdomen, also known as pot bellies. Sphynxes are known for their extroverted behavior. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity, and affection for their owners.

Breed Standard

Head: Medium-sized, angular, slightly triangular. Longer than it is wide. Flat forehead. Prominent cheek bones. Short nose, pronounced or slight stop. Muzzle very rounded, broad, short. Pronounced whisker pinch. Firm chin. Whiskers sparse, short, or absent.
Eyes: Large, lemon-shaped, upper corner pointing toward ears, well-spaced. Color corresponding to that of the coat.
Neck: Long, arched, muscular, powerful in males.
Body: Medium-sized. Chest very broad, barrel-shaped. Rounded abdomen. Powerful loins. Fairly fine-boned to moderately boned. Well-muscled.
Paw: Length proportional to that of the body. Forelegs slightly arched, slightly shorter than hind legs. Medium-boned. Firm, well-developed muscles. Medium-sized, oval paws with long toes. Very thick paw pads.
Tail: Moderately long, slender, whip tail known as a “rat tail.” It may have a tuft of hair on the tip (“lion tail”).
Coat: Skin appears hairless and resembles that of a chamois in texture. Skin wrinkled on the head, body, and legs. Elsewhere, it is taut. The coat is limited to a fine down covering most of the body. A few hairs are present on the face, paws, tail, and testicles. Thus, “hairless cat” is a misnomer. All colors are recognized, as are all patterns. White looks pinkish, and black looks dark gray.
Fault: Too frail, delicate in appearance. Too small in size. Head too narrow. Straight profile. Compact or long body. Disqualify: eyes too small. Absence of whisker pinch. Toes too small (u). Kinky hair of Devon Rex or Cornish Rex during shedding. Obvious tweezing or shaving. Though Sphynx cats lack a coat to shed or groom, they are not maintenance free. Body oils, which would normally be absorbed by the hair, tend to build up on the skin. As a result, regular cleaning (usually in the form of bathing) is necessary; one bath a week is usually sufficient. Care should be taken to limit the Sphynx cat's exposure to outdoor sunlight at length, as they can develop sunburn and skin damage similar to that of humans. In general, Sphynx cats should never be allowed outdoors unattended, as they have limited means to conserve body heat when it is cold. In some cases, owners will dress their cats in pet-sized coats in the winter to help them conserve body heat.

Their curious nature can take them into dangerous places or situations. Although Sphynx cats are sometimes thought to be hypoallergenic due to their lack of coat, this is not the case for cat-specific allergies. Allergies to cats are triggered by a protein called Fel d1, not cat hair itself. Fel d1 is a tiny and sticky protein primarily found in cat saliva and sebaceous glands. Those with cat allergies may react worse to direct contact with Sphynx cats than other breeds. However, conflicting reports of some people successfully tolerating Sphynx cats also exist. These positive reports may be cases of desensitizing, wherein the "hairless" cat gave the owner optimism to try to own a cat, eventually leading to the positive situation of their own adaptation.

Sphynx cats also appear to have more ear wax than most hairy domestic cats because they have little to no hair in their ears to catch and protect them from a build up of impurities in their ears, like dirt, skin oils (sebum), and ear wax which accumulates more frequently in the hairless sphynx breed. The Sphynx cat's ears will need to be cleaned on a weekly basis, usually before bath time. The Sphynx breed also tends to accumulate oils and debris under their nails as well as the skin fold above the nail due to the lack of fur, so, like the ears, the nails and surrounding skin folds need to be cleaned properly as well. This is generally done at bath time along with a weekly nail clipping. The sphynx breed does require more grooming than a typical domestic cat with fur.


A hairless cat highly sensitive to sunlight Hairless cats appeared in the world at different times. Mexican hairless cats date back to the pre-Colombian era. In 1938, French professor E. L tard described the mutant allele h in hairless kittens produced by a pair of Siamese. In 1966 in Ontario, Canada, Ms. Micalwaith's female cat Elisabeth gave birth to a hairless male named Prune. Prune and Elisabeth produced hairless kittens. The spontaneous mutation responsible for this trait is caused by the recessive allele hr. Also in Ontario and at the same time, Ms. Smith discovered Bambi, a black and white hairless male. Pinkie and Squeakie, two hairless females, were adopted by Hugo Hernandez in the Netherlands. In the 1980s, similar cases were reported in Great Britain. As interest in these cats declined in the United States, their popularity grew in Europe, especially in France by 1983, as well as in the Netherlands. It is true that it is impossible to remain indifferent to these cats, adored by some and detested by others. Seeing the success of these cats in shows and the curiosity they generated, American breeders began importing Sphynxes from Europe. The breed is recognized by T.I.C.A., but the C.F.A. and the F.I.Fe. have rejected it. The Sphynx is quite rare.


The Sphynx is lively, mischievous, playful, and independent. This smart, high-energy breed loves to show off for his favorite people and is social to house guests. Friendly toward other cats and toward dogs, Sphynxes are never aggressive. Very affectionate and even possessive, they adore being doted on. Apartment life is perfect for them, since they are sensitive to cold, heat, and humidity. In winter, they should be fed a high-calorie diet in order to keep their body temperature slightly above normal. Although they tan, they must be kept out of direct sunlight, which can lead to sunburn. Unlike other feline breeds, Sphynxes sweat through the skin and should thus be bathed regularly. The ears must also be cleaned often, as they produce a great deal of wax. Sphynx kittens are born with very wrinkled skin and hair along the spine that disappears with age.


The Sphynx faces challenges because of its lack of protective fur. Skin cancer may be a problem if exposed to sunlight for long durations of time.

The lack of hair can cause health issues with kittens in the first weeks of life because of susceptibility to respiratory infections. Reputable breeders should not let their kittens go to new homes without being at least 14 weeks of age to ensure the kitten is mature enough to cope in a new environment.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
The breed does have instances of the genetic disorder hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Other domestic cat breeds prone to HCM include Persian, Ragdoll, Norwegian Forest cat, Siberian cats, British Shorthair and Maine Coon; however, any domestic cat including mixed breeds can acquire HCM. Studies are being undertaken to understand the links in breeding and the disorder. Cats are screened for HCM disease with echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), as well as with additional tests determined by the veterinarian cardiologist including electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG), chest radiographs (X-rays), and/or blood tests.

The Sphynx cat has a high rate of heart disease, either as HCM or mitral valve dysplasia. In a 2012 study of 114 Sphynx cats, 34% were found to have an abnormal heart, with 16 cats having mitral valve dysplasia and 23 cats having HCM. These prevalences were found in cats with an average age of 2.62 years. Males cats developed more severe disease than female cats and often developed it earlier, at an average age of 19 months for males and 29 months for females. Since the prevalence of genetic heart disease is high in this breed, many breeders will recommend screening for HCM yearly.

As HCM progresses into an advanced stage, cats may experience congestive heart failure (CHF) or thromboembolism.

Congenital myasthenic syndrome
Congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) previously referred to as muscular dystrophy, myopathy or spasticity, is a type of inherited neuromuscular disorder associated with alpha-dystroglycan deficiency, found in Sphynx and in Devon Rex cats as well as variants of these breeds, which can occur between the first 3 to 23 weeks of their life. This condition has also been described, but is rarely seen. Cats affected by CMS show generalized muscle weakness and fatigue, as well as ventroflexion of the head and neck, head bobbing, and scapulae protrusion.

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