Hairless cats aren’t the usual soft, fluffy cat you think of when you think of a pet cat. But hairless breeds have become increasingly popular over the years. They are easy to recognize, have distinct personalities, and make wonderful pets, but only if you are willing to commit to more care and grooming than is needed for many house cats.
If you’re thinking about adopting a hairless cat or you’d just like to know more about these interesting animals, read on for more information.
The most well-known breed of hairless cat is the Sphynx. Other popular hairless breeds include Peterbald, Donskoy, and Russian hairless.
European breeders began developing the Sphynx in the early 1960s. About 10 years later two different hairless breeds were discovered in North America and the cats from the two different continents were bred into the Sphynx breed we’re familiar with today.
All domestic (United States) Sphynx cats today are descended from one of two lineages, including:
The Pearson cats were the first naturally occurring hairless cats in the United States. Several litters of kittens were born to the hairless mother and two were eventually sold to a breeder.
Several failed attempts were made in Toronto before Shirley Smith found three hairless kittens in her neighborhood and sent two of them to a doctor in the Netherlands to breed them with a white Devon Rex. The resulting litter produced five kittens.
Hairless cats are born without fur or coats. DNA analysis has shown that a genetic mutation is responsible for the Sphynx’s hairlessness. It’s the same allele that produces short, curly hair in the Devon Rex breed. The gene encodes keratin 71, which is responsible for keratinizing the hair follicle. There is a complete loss of function in the follicle that allows hair to form, but it is easily dislodged.
It might seem that grooming a hairless cat is easier than grooming a cat with hair, especially long-haired cats. This is not true. Hairless cats require a significant amount of grooming. It’s important to understand these grooming needs before committing to the adoption of one of these animals.
As far as behavior, Sphynx cats are known to be very extroverted. They are high-energy, curious, and intelligent. They are also very affectionate cats. Many people describe them as more dog-like than most cats because they are interactive and attached to humans.
What is the grooming process for hairless cats? It depends on the breed and whether or not your cat has any hair at all. Some “hairless” cats have peach fuzz, while others are entirely bald.
In both cases, the lack of hair on their bodies means they are unable to absorb the skin oils produced by their skin. This means they need regular baths to keep their coats and bodies clean. Without bathing, hairless cats get sticky because of the oil buildup. This leads to irritation and other skin problems. It’s best to use a special cat or hairless cat shampoo approximately once a week to keep your cat clean and comfortable.
In addition to bathing, it’s also important to protect your hairless cat’s eyes. Many hairless cat breeds to not have eyelashes, which means dirt more easily gets into their eyes. When bathing your cat, be sure to clean their eyes. You’ll also want to check your cat’s eyes daily and clean them when needed.
Hairless cat owners must attend to their pet’s ears. Hairless breeds tend to accumulate more dirt, sebum, and ear wax than other breeds because of the lack of hair in their ears. Make sure ear cleaning is included in your pet’s bath routine at least once a week. The same is true for dirt and debris under their nails and in their skin folds. At bath times, make sure you give your cat a thorough examination for accumulated dirt.
Additionally, you’ll want to be careful with your hairless cat’s sun exposure. Like our own human skin, less hair means higher risk for sunburn and there is a risk of skin cancers if exposure is excessive. Limiting your cat’s exposure to outdoor sunlight and never allowing your hairless outside without you is ideal. These cats also struggle to stay warm in colder temperatures. Protective sweaters or jackets reduce sun exposure and help your cat stay warm when outdoors.
Owning a hairless cat offers many benefits, including:
All hairless breeds are known to be friendly and outgoing. They make great companions and usually get along well with other pets in the house, including dogs. Sphynx tend to be more demanding of attention than other cats, but hairless breeds, in general, are attention hogs. This is why many hairless cat lovers choose to bring two or more cats into their home because it relieves some of the demands on human attention.
These cats are mischievous, active, and playful, but also easy to train.
The most well-known breeds of hairless cats includes:
Not unless hair loss is associated with something that has nothing to do with your cat’s breed! Cats born hairless are just as healthy as other cats. Some people even consider hairless breeds generally healthier than other purebred cats.
Yes! Hairless cats are one of the friendliest and most outgoing breeds. They make great companions, get along well with other pets and kids, and are welcoming and friendly to household visitors.
Yes. Hairless cats should be bathed about once a week. Hairless cat owners should also do a daily examination of their cat to make sure eyes, ears, and skin folds are clean and free of dirt and debris.
In most cases, yes, hairless cats cost as much, if not more, than other purebred cats. The advantage of getting a purebred cat is the information you get about the cat’s lineage and genetic health. If you have your heart set on a hairless cat but you prefer to adopt from a shelter, it might help to reach out to shelters in your area and let them know you are interested.
The Definitive Guide to Cat DNA testing: What you need to know.
“Welcome to TICA - the International Cat Association, TICA Cats, TICA Pedigreed Cats, Pedigreed Cats, Pedigreed Cats Registry, Household Pet Cat Registry, Domestic Cat Registry, Savannah Cat, Bengal Cat, Persian Cat, Maine Coon Cat.” Tica.org.
“Breeds – the Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc.” Cfa.org, https://www.cfa.org/Owners/FindingAKitten/BreedPersonalityChart.aspx.