The Sphynx cat, also called the Canadian hairless, is a well-known breed precisely because of its lack of fur. While such hairless cats are known to emerge naturally every 15 years or so, it was only in the 1960s, in Canada, that breeders began to breed the Sphynx in earnest. This was a consequence of the very first Sphynx kitten (though it was not named such at the time) appearing naturally in a litter in Toronto in 1965. The Sphynx appears in two lines, resulting from two genetic mutations, namely the Minnesota and Ontario lines, from which Sphynx cats in America and Europe emerge.
Genetically speaking, a Sphynx is related to a Devonshire Rex in that they share a common gene that ensures their lack of fur. There was a time when the two breeds were cross-bred, but such cross-breeding is now prohibited by most associations because it led to dental or nervous problems. Nowadays, the only outbreeds that are permitted are the American and Domestic Shorthair breeds.
Sphynx cats, however, are not totally hairless. They may have a thin layer of down on their bodies, and light hair on their noses, tails, and toes. The texture has been likened to a peach, a chamois cloth, or a water bottle. They have tall, thin legs and large bellies, and a fully-developed Sphynx tends to resemble a cat who is totally full. Like most other breeds, males tend to be larger than females. Sphynx cats can come in many colors, the color being dependent on both the few hairs they have and the pigmentation of the skin.
A frequently asked query is whether they do get cold. The answer is that, yes, they do, but their natural instincts have been sharpened enough such that they can easily look for and stay with sources of heat, particularly humans, other cats, or even dogs. The Sphynx is known to be friendly and acquisitive, and can do tricks to impress their owners. Sphynx cats are natural performers, hence they tend to do well at cat shows. They are physically active and are comfortable around people.
Sphynx cats require more bathing than is usual with other cats, since they lack the hair needed to absorb body oils. It is easy, however, to dry a Sphynx, precisely because of this lack. Some owners, however, are known to bathe them more than is necessary. Because of this lack of hair, research has been undertaken as to whether Sphynx cats could be considered hypoallergenic.
At the moment, some people who have allergies to cat hair can live with some kinds of Sphynx cats. Others, however, still could not, and it is wise to check if people with allergies will tolerate having a relatively hairless cat. Other hairless breeds, such as the Don Sphynx and the Peterbald, have also arisen as a consequence of similar natural mutations as the Sphynx itself.
The most famous Sphynx at the moment is Ted Nude-Gent, who is well-known for playing the role of Mr. Bigglesworth, Dr. Evil’s pet cat, in the Austin Powers movie series.