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With their angular faces, large ears, and sleek bodies, Sphynx cats are living (and purring) evidence that a kitten has more than just a fur coat. Here are some facts about the meaty cat.
1. Sphynx cats are native to Canada.
One might think that a cat whose ancestors came from the Nordland would have a warm coat. But today’s Canadian Sphynx – the hairless breed we know in North America – has bucked expectations since the mid-1960s when an Ontario cat gave birth to a hairless kitten that was the result of a natural genetic mutation. Two separate sets of hairless kittens were born to owners in Toronto and Minnesota in the mid-1970s. Thanks to various breeding efforts, their lineages led to the loving animal we love today.
Don’t think, however, that the Canadian Sphynx is the only hairless cat out there. Similar breeds exist, and similar cats have been reported in countries around the world. For example, the Sphynx has a hairless doppelganger – the Donskoy – who is actually a separate breed from Russia. While they look almost identical, the Sphynx’s lack of long hair is due to a recessive gene, while the Donskoy’s hairlessness is the result of a dominant gene.
2. Sphynx cats are actually not bald.
At first glance, the Sphynx looks less like a cat and more like a naked mole-rat. However, when you stroke one, you’ll find that it’s not actually hairless. Sphynxes are covered with a fine layer of fluff. Although they don’t feel plush, their coats feel like suede.
3. Sphynx cats have different patterns and colors.
Although sphynxes are “naked” cats, their skin pigment can vary in color and pattern. From tortoiseshell to tabbies, you’re bound to find a Sphynx version of many long haired cats.
4. Sphynx cats are not hypoallergenic.
If you are a cat lover who is allergic to your favorite animal, then you shouldn’t be spending your money on a Sphynx kitten. Despite rumors to the contrary, the breed is not actually hypoallergenic. Sphynxes still produce Fel d1, the allergenic protein in cats’ saliva and skin secretions that causes your eyes to itch and turn red.
5. Sphynx cats are warmer than most other cats.
In fact, four degrees warmer.
6. Sphynx cats need a weekly bath.
Do you think Sphynx kittens are super clean because they don’t have fur? Think again While your cat’s fur may not be a magnet for dust particles, pollen, and other substances, their skin still produces oil. For most cats, oil helps keep their fur smooth. However, in Sphynx cats, a film of fat can form over their bodies, which means their owners have to give them a bath every week. The same goes for the ears: since there is no hair to prevent the accumulation of dirt or dead skin cells in the cavities, owners must regularly wipe them with a washcloth or cotton ball to keep the ears clear.
7. Sphynx cats have sensitive skin.
Don’t apply sunscreen to your Sphynx every time it sits in a ray of sunshine. Note, however, that a Sphynx’s skin is more sensitive than other cats because it is not covered with a thick coat. (And yes, they can sunbathe.) They can get overheated or cold, and while they can go outside, most of the time they should be house cats.
8. Sphynx cats are popular.
While American pet owners love furry cats like Ragdolls, Exotic Shorthairs, Persians, and Maine Coons, Sphynxes are currently the ninth most popular breed of cats in the country, according to 2019 Cat Fanciers’ Association registration statistics.
9. Sphynx cats are friendly.
While they share a name with the Great Sphinx of Giza, Sphynx cats are nothing more than the stoic statue. They are sociable, loving, and playful animals – so much so that a 2012 study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior ranked Sphynxes as the most loving breed of cats.
Why are Sphynx cats so friendly? Experts have a few theories: they might rely on people to keep themselves warm; because friendlier cats could be selected for breeding; or because breeders tend to leave Sphynx kittens with their mothers for long periods of time.
10. Sphynx cats eat a lot.
Thanks to their fast metabolism, Sphynx cats need more food than the average cat.
11. The Sphynx cats who played Mr. Bigglesworth in Austin Powers had funny names.
The main Mr. Bigglesworth in Austin Powers, Ted Nudegent, was specially trained for the films and sat still for up to 45 minutes while the actors yelled and actor Mike Myers petted him. “It helped that he was a show cat and was used to having a lot of people around,” animal trainer Tammy Maples told The Daily News. “And also that he just loved Mike Myers. Mike always took the time to talk to Ted. It wasn’t just ‘sit down, cameras roll’.” And when the filmmakers needed a Bigglesworth kitten for The Spy Who Shagged Me, they used Mel Gibskin. Later, as an adult cat, Mel served as Ted’s doppelganger.