Sphynx Cats: What You Should Know Before You Buy One
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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;
- or 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!