Decoding sassy Sphynx and their love!

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Pradeep Bangalore
Hairless but not loveless! Sphynx cats are curious breeds who make amazing pets. They’ll fill your heart and home with love. Know more about their unique characteristics.
 
My fascination with the Sphynx when I first saw the breed on my favourite TV show Friends, the character Rachel, played by Jennifer Aniston, once adopted a Sphynx. Ever since, I have been on the lookout for the breed. The first time I saw the Sphynx in reality, my heart rather than my eyes broke into a million pieces looking at the alien like feline, but on the second glance it looked more beautiful than before and stole my heart forever. Their athletic nature, playfulness and friendliness have taken the love of Canadian Sphynx to apex position in my heart.
Tracing their roots
Originally named the Canadian Hairless, Sphynx got her start in Toronto, Canada in 1966 when a litter of domestic shorthair kittens included a hairless kitten as the result of a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Although other hairless kittens had been born prior to this, Sphynx as we know her today is the result of selective breeding.
 
These hairless cats were bred with normal-coated cats and then their offsprings were bred again with other hairless cats, a process that has not only produced the desired breed characteristics but also served to widen the gene pool to produce a genetically hardy breed of cat. But it wasn’t until 2002 that the Cat Fanciers’ Association accepted Sphynx for competition in the championship class and other cat associations quickly followed suit.
Their toasty temperament & nature
While the Sphynx’s unusual looks are attention grabbing and might even be off-putting to some people, what these cats lack in fur is more than made up for in personality. Although Sphynx pet parents are often initially attracted to the shock value of having a hairless cat, not to mention the lack of shedding to deal with, most will tell you that they fell in love with these feline friends, who prove to be delightful pets. If you’re looking for a fun and affectionate companion, you need look no further than the Sphynx. Three of their most dominant personality traits are – curious, intelligent and energetic. For their own safety, they’ll bet best as an exclusively indoor cat, and generally get along well with children and other pets.
 
Live, laugh, love – the art of living with a Sphynx
They are friendly, loving, and crave human attention. In contrast to their regal look and serious expression, Sphynx cats are acrobatic clowns who don’t take themselves too seriously. They love to entertain and delight their humans and will follow you around the house like a puppy. They’ll try to get involved in whatever you’re doing, and never let go of any opportunity to perch on your shoulder or curl up in your lap.
 
Take care of their grooming
Sphynx is a strong and robust breed with few health problems. Although the breed doesn’t have any genetic disease predispositions, a few health conditions have been known to affect them. The most common one is are – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and hereditary myopathy. HCM is a disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle and can be detected with an echocardiogram. Hereditary myopathy is a condition affecting muscle function. Sphynx cats are sometimes also prone to skin conditions – urticaria pigmentosa, which causes crusty sores to form on the body; and periodontal diseases. Although the breed is hairless, it is not considered hypoallergenic because their skin still produces normal amounts of allergy, causing dander. They tend to have oily skin and need to be bathed regularly to avoid becoming greasy. Special care should be taken to protect these gentle feline beings from sunburn and skin damage, as well as from cold temperatures, although the Sphynx tends to be an expert at finding snug places to curl up and get warm. Sweaters and coats tailored to the Sphynx cats are commercially available. The ears should also be checked weekly for wax build up and gently wiped with a cotton ball dipped in a gentle ear cleaning solution as recommended by your vet.
 
They are special in more ways than one
The most notable aspect is obviously their lack of hair due to genetics. Although it isn’t entirely true, because if they have a small layer of fluff like suede, which is imperceptible to the eye and touch. They also don’t have eyelashes, so as pet parents you need to be extra cautious about their eyes. Because of their wrinkled skin, the feeling when petting a Sphynx is like that of touching a hot peach and you can totally feel their body heat. The heat that can be lost due to the lack of hair is compensated by a body temperature up to 4 degrees higher than that of the rest of the felines.
Sphynx cats are medium in size with muscular built and have an average weight of 4 kg. Even without visible hair, they have different colours like—white, black, blue, cream, and brown. Their life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years, and they are extremely social in nature.
 
Breaking norms of feline friendliness
Sphynx cats are loyal, full of love for their humans, and can often be spotted following them around or snuggling up while wagging their tail. Even though they would almost always rather be cuddling, Sphynx cats are natural athletes and playful pals. Though Sphynx cats are exceptionally active felines, their exercise needs are low.
These cats are happy to entertain themselves for hours at a time, but some might love to have a buddy. If you are away from home for most of the day, you might want to get two Sphynx cats. They love to play, jump and may even fetch once trained. Social and smart, Sphynx cats respond well to positive training
Bring home a Sphynx to understand the true meaning of beauty and you’ll see how your heart will melt with them!
(Pradeep Bangalore is an international cat show judge based in Bengaluru)