Hairless or almost hairless cats leave few people indifferent. For some, these creatures cause delight and tenderness, while others twitch in disgust. But where did they come from?
Even though a few decades ago very few people could say they heard of such cats, historical sources say that they were known even back in the days of the Mayans.
Real evidence of the existence of hairless cats appeared only at the end of the 19th century, while active selection began to develop in the 80s. Felinologists crossed animals with a gene mutation and selected bald offspring. The ancestor of the oldest breed – the Canadian Sphynx – was a hairless kitten named Prune. Now it is a well-known breed, recognized by all international felinological organizations.
Other breeds of hairless cats – the Peterbald cat and the Don Sphynx cat – are relatively young (about 15 years old). All the rest – there are still 6 of them today – are so far only gaining recognition.
Many like the hypoallergenic hairless creatures with an alien appearance. By the way, even bare skin can be of different colors!
Hairless cat breeds:
- Canadian Sphynx – the “oldest” breed, already well known and widespread, a bald, eared, funny cat with huge eyes, descendant of the cat named Prune.
- Don Sphinx – the ancestor of the breed is the cat Varvara from Rostov-on-Don. It was hairless herself, giving the same offspring in the 80s of the last century. This Sphinx with almond-shaped eyes on a serious muzzle looks at the world with philosophical calm.
- Peterbald, or Petersburg Sphinx – in the 90s, in St. Petersburg, the Don Sphynx and the Oriental cat were crossed. The physique of the new breed resembles Orientals while the skin is like a suede undercoat.
- Cohon – these hairless cats bred in Hawaii by themselves. The breed was named this way because the word means “bald” in the native language. Interestingly, due to a gene mutation, these cats even lack hair follicles.
- Elf – the distinguishing feature of this yet unrecognized breed is its huge, curled ears. Bred by crossing the Sphynx and American Curl, it was first shown at an exhibition in the USA in 2007.
- Dwelf – the result of crossing Munchkin, Sphinxes and American Curls was presented to the public in 2009. They are funny naked, eared, short-legged creatures.
- Bambino – these are small, neat cats with a long thin tail. Sphynxes and Munchkins participated in the selection.
- Minskin – the breed appeared in Boston in 2001 from long-haired Munchkins and Sphinxes with the addition of Devon Rex and Burmese blood. It turned out very well – conditional cashmere fur on the body, shaggy short paws and ears.
- Ukrainian Levkoy – the breed receives high marks for the perfect combination of exterior and character. The progenitors are the Don Sphynx and the Scottish Fold cat. Descendants are funny and cute pets with ridiculously curved ears, reminiscent of a levkoy flower.
How to take care of hairless cats
If you got yourself a naked kitten, congratulations, you can save money on a furminator. However, this is the only savings point, because:
a. The Sphinx sweats, therefore:
– the animal should be washed regularly with wet wipes. Alcohol-containing wipes or solutions are prohibited, as they can cause burns;
– the cat needs to be bathed regularly (on average – once a week) with a special shampoo, the pH of which should be suitable for bald people. The water temperature must be at least 38ºС;
– make sure that bald cats do not get into drafts, otherwise they can catch a cold and get sick.
b. The ears of the Sphynx cat accumulate dirt, therefore:
– the black-brown secret from the ears should be cleaned once a week, using both cotton swabs and special cleansing drops.
c. Hairless cats freeze, therefore:
– you need to carefully monitor that the animal does not overcool;
– at the same time, the cat may get a burn from proximity to a running heater;
– the cat should have clothes (for all occasions of the cat’s life)
– you might need to buy a new soft, furry sofa or armchair for the cat to have a warm spot.
d. Sphynx skin is sensitive to ultraviolet radiation, therefore:
– they need to sunbathe;
– the skin of a bald cat in the summer should be smeared with sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
e. The eyes of bald cats do not have eyelashes. In order not to provoke the development of infections, the eyes should be wiped with chamomile decoction or special drops every week.
f. The tail of hairless cats has sebaceous glands, therefore, the tail must be wiped separately every few days.
Health features of hairless cat breeds
- Kitten Sleep Syndrome – often, hairless kittens begin to fade 10-14 days after birth for no apparent reason. Experts attribute this to thymus anomalies. It is not possible to save such kittens without serious medication.
- Gum hyperplasia – hereditary disease, characteristic mainly of blue and tortoiseshell cats. It can be medically treated, but often recurs.
- Underdevelopment of the tail vertebrae – it often comes in a duet with a general developmental delay and cannot be treated. Animals with such anomalies are not allowed for breeding.
- Nipple hyperplasia – in this case, geneticists have proven that nipple hyperplasia is transmitted from mother cat to daughter cat. Most often found in cats of blue color types with blue eyes.
- Diseases of the mammary glands – mostly hairless tortoiseshell cats suffer from this during puberty. Diseases of the mammary glands develop quite rapidly, they are poorly treated with medication. Surgery might sometimes stop the problem.
- Acne – this issue comes in two types (comedones and ductile cystic acne) and appears more often as a hereditary factor. It has been noticed that cats of blue, cream and red colors are more likely to suffer from acne, but it is an easily treated issue.
- Seasonal dermatitis – females in estrus are susceptible to this. Most often it goes away on its own.
- Allergies – hairless cats are very allergic. They can give an allergic reaction to anything – from WC filler to indoor flowers. Generally, removing the allergen stops the problems.
- Vasculitis – inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) can be drug-induced, infectious or coming from stress. In bald cats, vasculitis is not uncommon after exhibitions, long trips. Improving the immunity of a cat helps cope with vasculitis.
- Myopathy – a neuromuscular disease that can manifest itself when the kitten is six months old. Mild myopathy does not greatly affect the quality of life of the cat.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – this is a cardiac pathology, the essence of which is that the walls of the vessels of the heart thicken and block the flow of blood. Early diagnosis is the key to the pet’s healthy life.
These diseases are not so common, so don’t worry that acquiring a hairless cat would lead to a lot of health issues. In fact, hairless cats live long enough – 12-15 years, if fed right and taken care of properly.