Caring for Your Sphynx Cat

These cats are lots of fun but have a few special needs

Sphynx cats know how to have fun and love interacting with their people. Some owners say they’re mischievous and noisier than the average cat. But they’re not really completely hairless.

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Sphynx cats often have a fine layer of down, which can cover the body or just grow around the head, tail, and feet. The hairs are so fine they may make the cat feel like suede or peach fuzz. Some Sphynx cats may have a few whiskers, while others have none. This cat’s unique skin and coat require special care.

Skin Care

In furry cats, the oils secreted by the cat’s skin are dispersed along both the skin and the hair shafts. Because Sphynx cats lack a thick coat, the oils have nowhere to go. This can cause an oily buildup on the skin, which can make the cat feel greasy and may lead to skin disorders. To keep the skin healthy and clean, regular baths with a gentle shampoo and warm water may be necessary.

Sphynx cats have pronounced wrinkles around their face and shoulders. While adorable, these skin folds are the perfect spots to trap skin oils, so pay special attention to these areas when bathing your Sphynx.

The bare skin of Sphynx cats is easily sunburned. Short walks on a leash and harness are great exercise, but try to stick to areas with a fair amount of shade or use a shirt to protect your cat’s skin. Avoid sunscreen because many contain ingredients toxic to cats.

Hairless cats like the Sphynx may be predisposed to a skin condition called urticaria pigmentosa. This is a rare condition in which defective mast cells build up in the skin, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and bone marrow. It will usually appear as red papules on the skin. In cats, this condition is generally treated with anti-inflammatories such as glucocorticoids, antihistamines, and fatty acid supplements. If you notice these abnormal skin patches, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Keeping Warm

As you probably expected, Sphynx cats are prone to getting cold. Sphynx often curl up in sunny spots on the floor, fuzzy blankets, and the warm spot on the couch when you get up to get a drink. They also love to snuggle. As you hold a Sphynx, you will notice that he feels very warm, which is because his body heat escapes directly into the air and is not trapped by his coat.

To help keep your Sphynx cat warm, especially in the winter, make sure he has plenty of cozy spots to rest. You also can teach him to wear clothes as an extra layer of warmth. Have at least two sweaters on hand so that you can swap them out regularly to wash—those skin oils will build up quickly on clothing.

Nail Care

Delicate skin unprotected by a hair coat can be easily damaged by normal scratching. Trim your Sphynx’s nails regularly to prevent overgrowth. Commercial nail caps are another option to cover the sharp nail tips.


Because of their high intelligence and energy, Sphynx cats usually enjoy learning tricks. You can teach your cat to do just about anything—sit, shake, retrieve, and even come when called. Training is a great bonding activity, and mental activity will tire out a crazy kitty faster than physical exercise alone.

The Sphynx is one of several breeds of hairless cats, including the Bambino, Donskoy, Elf Cat, Ukranian Levkoy, and the Peterbald. If you’re willing to provide the additional care, the Sphynx cat can make a wonderful, loving, fun pet. Their life expectancy is nine to 15 years, compared to 13 to 17 for an indoor domestic shorthair cat.

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Did You Know? Blood Type and Breeding

Like many other purebred cats, most Sphynx are blood type B. This blood type is less common than type A, which is found in most domestic shorthairs and mixed breed cats. Rarely, a Sphynx will be type AB. This is important to know if your Sphynx has a health emergency that requires a blood transfusion, because giving type A blood to a type B cat causes a fatal reaction. Both the potential donor and recipient should always be blood typed before performing a transfusion. This can be performed with an agglutination test at your vet clinic.

Blood type is also important to know if you are considering breeding Sphynx cats. In rare cases where the kittens do not have the same blood type as their mother, antibodies passed to the kittens in the colostrum can cause reactions.

Blood type both parents and brush up on your genetics before breeding a litter to avoid unnecessary heartbreak.