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Sphynx Cats: What You Should Know Before You Buy One

Sphynx cat owner (Luna, Pierre, and Lucy) and author of the Sphynx Cat Site, Sphynx Cat Blog, and Sphynx cat book.

Everything you need to know before buying a Sphynx—the hairless cat.

Everything you need to know before buying a Sphynx—the hairless cat.

Sphynx Cat: The Hairless Cat

I own three Sphynx cats and am a huge fan of the breed. They are friendly, energetic, and playful pets. They're good with children and other animals, and, despite their strange appearance, they make warm and adorable cuddle buddies. However, many people don't know what they're getting into when they decide to get a Sphynx, which ironically needs more care than most cats because of its hairlessness.

Before you decide to buy your hairless companion, make sure you do your research! These cats are incredibly loving and will greet you at the door and sleep on your lap, but they also need a lot of companionship and regular grooming, which makes them higher maintenance than most cat breeds.

Kinsey the Blue Sphynx, hanging out on his cat tree.

Kinsey the Blue Sphynx, hanging out on his cat tree.

Sphynx Cat Care

If you have a Sphynx, be prepared to groom it at least once a week. "What?" you say, "But it's hairless; why does it need grooming?" In fact, Sphynxes groom themselves as often as regular cats, but since they don't have enough fur to absorb the oil secreted by their skin or their saliva, grooming leaves a sticky, sometimes crusty residue of oil, sweat, and spit on their skin.

Think of them in the same way you would think of a baby—it's hairless, close to the ground, not designed to clean itself, and has special needs.

Bathing

A Sphynx cat needs a bath at least once a week, and preferably in a medicated pet shampoo like Malaseb to ensure any bacteria or other nasties are killed during the bath. Most cats of this breed have been acclimated to regular baths by their breeder, which you can see in all the cat videos of hairless kitties happily playing in the bath.

However, sometimes a Sphynx will retain its cat instincts and really dislike getting wet. Make sure your breeder has worked at acclimatising your kitten to a regular bath, and continue regular bathing to reinforce the habit. Special rewards during and after will help.

Even with the bathing, your new friend may leave marks on furniture, sheets and your fluffy white towels just out of the drier if they sleep there for any length of time. This is because of their oily sweat glands, which can cause reddish-brown oil to build up on their skin. Regular bathing will help, but it will not keep the cats from sweating, so if you cannot deal with the occasional oily brown sweat stain, this may not be the cat for you.

Ear Cleaning

Sphynxes have no hair in their ear canals, which means dirt and debris collects in their ears more easily. They also produce copious amounts of dark earwax that is quite unsightly and can stain furniture and clothes.

This wax will block the ear canal if left uncleaned. Be prepared to clean the gunk out of their ears with a cotton swab and some ear cleaner a couple of times a week. I won't lie to you—it is quite disgusting. If you are totally grossed out by the thought, then do not buy a hairless cat.

Nail Clipping

If you choose to trim your cat's nails, do so directly after its bath when the nails will be softer and easier to cut. Make sure to only trim the sharp ends and not the more sensitive pink part of the claws (called the "quick"). You can trim nails with any sharp nail clipper, and make sure to clean your cat's toes in the bath, as residue can sometimes build up!

Temperament

Sphynx cats are among the most loving and friendly cats. If you want a cat who will sleep on your lap while you watch TV, snuggle up with you at night, and greet you at the door after work, this breed will not disappoint. They are gentle, easygoing, and good with kids, dogs, and other cats.

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The flip side of all that friendliness is that they need companionship. This breed does not like being left alone, and they have a desperate need for attention. If you get one, you need to be able to return all the affection and love it gives you. If you aren't a very affectionate pet owner, you'd be better off getting a more independent, stand-offish cat, like a Siamese.

If you are leaving the house for long periods of time, your Sphynx's heart is going to break. Unless you have a companion for it, it is going to become depressed. If you don't have other friendly animals it can interact with, and you know you'll be out of the house often, then you should either buy two or get a Sphynx and another less high-maintenance cat as a companion. If you get both cats as kittens and they grow up together, they will certainly become best friends.

A pair of Sphynx brothers

A pair of Sphynx brothers

The Need for Heat

When was the last time you ran around the house naked? In countries that have cold winters, your power bill will need to rise as a Sphynx needs to be warm all of the time (not just when humans are in the house). If you don't leave the heaters on, then you will need to purchase a heated cat igloo or make sure they have a warm bed with pillows that gets plenty of sun.

If you look through pictures on the Internet, you are bound to find some of a Sphynx dressed in a warm jumper or t-shirt. Be careful when putting clothing on your new friend! Some cats are fine with it and appreciate the warmth, but many become confused and unhappy if you try to dress them. They might tip over, freeze in one place like a statue, or become withdrawn.

If you decide to get your buddy a sweater, pay attention to how it is behaving and make sure it is okay with the change. If it doesn't like wearing clothing, you'll just have to make sure there are warm spots available for it to sleep.

Sphynx cats will want to sleep in warm places, like under the covers or on the radiator.

Sphynx cats will want to sleep in warm places, like under the covers or on the radiator.

Toilet Habits

Lastly, you must be able to love your hairless companion even when:

  • They don't cover their poop in the kitty litter.
  • Their poop smells like the worst thing you have ever smelled, and now you have visitors at the door.
  • They have trodden on their soft poop and cuddled up to you in front of the guests, leaving poopy marks all over you.
  • Let an eyewatering fart go when you are cuddling them in front of the guests and explaining how gorgeous they are as a breed.

If you cannot even contemplate being able to do those things, then do not buy a Sphynx.

But if you can, then welcome to the most loyal, gentle, and affectionate breed in the cat family!

Comments

Stephanie on August 08, 2020:

Id love to have one!!!! Kyle !!

ElenaBali on August 01, 2020:

I have a Sphynx cat. She was the most affectionate cat I’ve ever known. She had her first and last litter of kittens 4 weeks ago. Ever since she stopped coming and hanging out with us. She does not climb on my lap anymore. Does not snuggle with us. We were thinking of keeping one kitten from the litter and sterilizing both of them. But now I’m thinking to myself “if we will keep one kitten will she keep choosing the company of her feline friend over our?” We do love her very much and we are really missing her affection and spending time with her...any advice suggestions?

Sally on July 08, 2020:

U know I want one but I don’t no where they sell them;-;

F on July 06, 2020:

Great article, but perhaps do a little more research on Siamese, they are know to be even more affectionate and chatty, and attention needing then Sphynx cats.

ok!? on June 22, 2020:

I want one T^T

Cecil Baldwin III on June 12, 2020:

I love my Sphynx! He is about 3 years old, and still as playful as a kitten. If you do not want an active cat, this may not be the breed for you. Things I most enjoy about Cecil:

- He has a killer dad bod, man boobs and all, which in moments of despair makes me feel great about myself.

- He drinks water excessively, like 3 full bowls a day.

- He's a shadow, this breed always wants to be in the middle of whatever may be going on. Nothing is off limits; don't even try.

- I can take him for walks (with skin protection from the sun) on a leash.

- He plays fetch. All. The. Time. He will bring every toy in the house and drop it in your lap if you won't participate.

- This breed loves to climb. Cats posts, humans, the wall, it doesn't matter. Having perches is a must. Also, your shoulders will constantly (and unintentionally) always be scratched.

Sometimes he's a parrot, monkey, dog, demon...but he's always sweet.

They really are the most loving breed. I've owned many cats and can honestly say his personality, and the others of the same breed i've been in contact with, are truly special. They needs lots of love and attention, and will give it all back in return.

Gisele on June 02, 2020:

My friend was hanging out with Sphynx and she noticed it had poop all over his paws and he was walking around with poop on his paws all over the place and she did have to clean it up while crying. But she loves him to death and he's amazing to cuddle with and it's fun giving him baths.

Kyle on May 20, 2020:

I got my fiancé a sphynx for Christmas and it’s the worst thing I have ever done. It cannot be trained, constantly climbs on the countertops where we eat, and regularly smells horrific even after baths. It cries at the bedroom door but it cannot sleep with us because it will pounce on you in the middle of the night when you are fast asleep. I almost think there might be something wrong with the cat. We have tried everything to keep it off the countertops and out of our food and nothing works. I really really regret getting this breed. I have never experienced a cat like this. I really dislike the cat more and more every day and don’t know what to do.

School kid on January 30, 2020:

I own 2 sphynx kittens are they are LOVELY. around noon is when they are most active. This article helped a lot and so did the comments. THX!

Marnie on January 23, 2020:

Please make sure to get this breed checked by a cardiologist regularly. I just lost my little Lotus at the age of 6 from congenital heart disease and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through as it progressed so quickly. This breed in specific is more susceptible, I would completely get another in a heart beat but I would try and do an extensive background check into the breeding pair as much as you can and specifically ask about CHD . This breed is so loving and affectionate be ready to have them try and sleep on your neck all the time. They are well worth the investment! No other breed can compare to the love you will get from your own hairless baby. Mine loved to sit on my shoulders as I cleaned dishes

Judith Rietcheck on November 15, 2019:

We recently brought home a 3 yr old, 3 days ago. She is terrific! So loving. We have 2 dogs she hasn't met yet. She is downstairs they are upstairs.

Her eyes water constantly. She's had all shots, seems fine. Is this maybe a Spynx thing?

cherry turner on August 13, 2019:

how in the world do you train a cat to use the toilet? I would love to have a sphynx

Wendy Hansen on January 08, 2019:

I jut lost my Harry to CHPD, 5 years old and the absolute lite of my life.

He died in my arms, 5 minutes in to taking him to a emergency clinic that is not in my town, that is a 45 minute drive.

Harry is missed and loved by is furbie family, Ashton, Jennie, Reubin and Gracie...also is missed by the mortgage payers and Wendy and Adrian. RIP my sweet prince, you are with me always

Lesley on November 29, 2018:

we have 3 bichon miniature dogs age 5,6,8. We have adopted a sphynx kitten that we will receive in 2 weeks. Our question is , is it better to adopt two kittens or just the one? We have been told that a sphynx should have another felin companion. Thanks

Bill on November 09, 2018:

My cats neck locked up last night while he was sleeping . I had to crack it and he was very clam for about 20 min. Anyone ever had that happen?

Unicornxx on October 24, 2018:

They're so cute to have so I'm doing a documentary about it!

Lenchika on September 19, 2018:

To the author: If your cat is farting often it's not the breed's fault like you make it sound, it means your cat has digestive problems and you should consider either switching to a different dry/wet food or to a raw diet altogether (for ex. Primal Nuggets, Chicken & Salmon - my cat's preference). This should also improve the consistency of his stool (you seemed to complain a lot about his poop). And I'd recommend teaching him how to use a toilet (my Sphynx is toilet trained since she was 4 months old and it was the best decision ever).

Overall, due to many digestive issues that your cat seems to have, your article make it sound like Sphynx are poopers and farters. And what's up with claiming they're not designed for cleaning themselves (the opposite is actuallu true - they are cleaning machines! My cat's tongue is very efficient at making her super clean/soft/velvety to the point of her not needing a bath for up to 3 weeks!). I have to doubts your negative experience/comments turned some potential sphynx parents off this amazing cat breed. And they might never experience the unbelievable magic of having a Sphynx in their life...!

i love all cats on June 01, 2018:

i really want a sphinx cat!! they are adorable, and not ugly at all!! i’m only 13, and my parents say that they look like rats or for the black sphinx cats, bats. idc what they think,, i love them!! i would totally care for it, and still researching the breed,!

Laura on May 27, 2018:

I live with a Sphynx, she is 1.5 yrs old. She has lived with other cats and a dog. They are incredibly loving and don't want to let you out of their sight. A few points:

- their poop smells no different from any other cat breed (what are these people feeding them?!

ur haha mom on April 23, 2018:

i have a sphynx & i love her, but there's so many things my sphynx does differently.

i would consider this i reliable source, & i recommend these cats, but i just want to share some facts of Khaleesi Sacajawea Coilette Parks.

firstly, her pee & poop.

she LOVES peeing on annoying people or people she doesnt like.

she has peed on everyone in my family but me. (there is 9 people total in my family, & 1 dog & 2 cats..)

she likes pooping on the floor no matter WHAT bc she is a B.A.B

she HATES other cats more than anything, but she is okay with dogs, little dogs that aren't too hyper.

she pees on other cats

her pee stinks, not like cat pee, but rotten.

Next, her behavior.

she likes sleeping. she sleeps all day, & when shes not sleeping, shes screaming like a banshee for NO REASON.

she drinks 4 bowls of water a day & fills her litter in one day, i think she has diabetes.

she likes licking butter.

she EATS catnip.

she smells like fart.

^ unless i bathe her with baby shampoo, any other shampoo doesn't help.

she has bad blackheads on her chin.

she purrs really loud.

this is the LAZIEST sphynx you'll ever meet, she only ever plays if its a hoodie drawstring, & i HAVE to be wiggling it for her.

she is great to cuddle with, sleep with, & hold.

My cat seems horrible, & she is, but i love her so much.

i recommend getting one, my cat is just really crusty dusty rusty musty.

clicks2018 on April 07, 2018:

i own a sphynx, more i am owned by a sphynx and i do not agree with a number of comments about the breed.

1. they DO NOT require weekly bathing with MEDICATED shampoos at all ( please remove that point as it not accurate & can unbalance their natural skin oils). i bath my sphynx once a month with Johnson baby shampoo, he has no 'nasties' on the skin just like we dont? wipe regularly with unscented baby wipes soaked in wrung out warm water.

2. their pooh doesnt stink more than any other cat & he does not gas, cats on the wrong diet may do this but a healthy sphynx covers his pooh, does not stink and rarely if ever gases.

3. they are not stand offish, unless they have been neglected or badly treated, this breed is the most loving, sweet affectionate creature you will ever meet. BUT, as a human you have to be extra empathetic and aware of the COLD. sphynxes require special homes, they love constant company, from humans, cats & dogs alike.

Hullabaloo on March 29, 2018:

I think these seem like a lovely breed and would love the opportunity to care for one. However, as someone who has had 6 Siamese cats it is not accurate to describe this breed as stand offish. They are very affectionate and intelligent. Much more than an average cat. Whilst articles such as this are important to highlight breed traits prior to ownership, it is not right to comment on other breed characteristics if you provide misleading information. Everything you have described applies to Siamese cats as well!

GLaDOS on March 27, 2018:

Beerus from Dragon ball super is based on a kiss toriyama's sphinx cat, that's why he looks like a cat.

libby wilding on March 15, 2018:

I love the facts u told us about.. and I AM GETTING OONE!!!

Butt hurt popo on February 22, 2018:

when they say standoffish it means they are more independent and dont need lots of attention (though some do)

hi lol this is not my name on February 09, 2018:

im so confused!!!!!

samiamays on January 26, 2018:

i really am a pet lover and i want nothing but the best for animals