Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy

Felis catus

Last updated: August 10, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Olha Didenko/Shutterstock.com

Many people believe that because the Sphynx doesn't have a lot of fur, they are easily maintained. However, their upkeep is demanding!

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Felidae
Genus
Felis
Scientific Name
Felis catus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Conservation Status

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Locations

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Locations

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Facts

Name Of Young
Kitten
Group Behavior
  • Sociable
Fun Fact
Many people believe that because the Sphynx doesn't have a lot of fur, they are easily maintained. However, their upkeep is demanding!
Most Distinctive Feature
Lack of hair
Distinctive Feature
Lemon-shaped eyes
Other Name(s)
Canadian Sphynx
Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Sphynx

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
  • Brindle
  • Dark Brown
  • Cream
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Silver
  • Chocolate
  • Lilac
  • Caramel
  • Tawny
  • Beige
  • Light Grey
  • Dark Grey
  • Ginger
  • White-Brown
  • Multi-colored
  • Black-Brown
  • Sandy
  • Grey-Brown
  • Light-Brown
Skin Type
Fur
Lifespan
9 to 15 years
Weight
6 to 12 pounds
Height
8 to 10 inches
Age of Sexual Maturity
12 months
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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The Sphynx appears hairless to the naked eye, but that is not really the case. Instead, they are covered with fine hair that is hard to see yet, soft to the touch.

Many people believe that because they don’t have a lot of fur, they are easily maintained. However, their upkeep is demanding. Because there is not much hair to absorb the natural oils, their skin often becomes oily, dirty, and sometimes smelly. Vets recommend bathing them at least once a week.

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These silly cats are primarily healthy but, like many cats, can develop heart disease, obesity, and a condition called hereditary myopathy. Sadly, this causes the cat’s muscles to weaken, which affects their ability to walk or exercise normally.

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However, a sphynx should definitely be in the running if you want an entertaining, silly, loving, and loyal companion. Cat lovers often say they are more like dogs than cats because they are always by your side and need constant attention.

Sphynx Facts

  • Common name – Sphynx
  • Other names – Canadian Sphynx
  • Lifespan – 9 to 15 years
  • Weight – 6 to 12 pounds
  • Hair Color – All possible colors and patterns
  • Hypoallergenic – Yes
  • Kitten Cost – Anywhere from $1,500 to $4,500

Sphynx History

The Sphynx cat’s history is quite interesting because it all started with a genetic mutation. A domestic shorthair delivered a hairless kitten in Canada in 1966 called Prune. Because this was so strange, people thought she was genetically special and crossbred her with a Devon rex to create a stronger genetic hairless breed.

At first, the breed was named the Canadian Hairless Cat; however, it soon changed to Sphynx because they looked similar to the cats in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

When the breed first emerged, they had a lot of health issues because of the small gene pool; unfortunately, Prune’s line went extinct in the early 80s.

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However, in 1975 a couple who lived on a farm in Minnesota discovered that their farm cat gave birth to a hairless kitten, who they named Epidermis. Then, to their surprise, she was joined by a hairless sister a year later, named Dermis.

A breeder in Oregon heard about the two kittens and offered to buy them from the farm owners, who agreed. So, the breeder crossbred the kittens, and this is where today’s line of sphynx cats comes from.

However, breeders still needed a stronger genetic pool to help the breed thrive, and luckily, in 1978, that happened.

In Toronto, a Siamese breeder found three hairless kittens on the side of the road in her neighborhood, naming them Paloma, Bambi, and Punkie.

She decided to crossbreed them with Devon rexes, which created a whole new line to widen up the gene pool, and the breed flourished from there.

Sphynx cat crouching on top of a modern cat climbing system. Sphynx cats are playful creatures.
Sphynx cat crouching on top of a modern cat climbing system. Sphynx cats are playful creatures.

sophiecat/Shutterstock.com

Sphynx Personality

There is never a dull moment when a Sphynx is around. They are natural-born performers who will do anything to grab your attention. Seeing their behavior for the first time is bizarre if you do not know the breed because their “grumpy” faces don’t match their lively and fun personalities.

They are definitely lap cats and love affection and attention. Sphynx cats will follow you around the house and seek any opportunity to curl up in your lap or on your shoulders.

Because they are so curious, intelligent, energetic, and needy, it makes them hard to handle at times. In addition, they are very vocal and enjoy making their presence known.

They are great for families and get along well with children and other pets, but for singles who have a lot of time on their hands, Sphynx cats would make great companions. Their ideal environment would be indoors, as their lack of fur makes them more susceptible to outside temperatures.

Sphynx Size and Weight

These cats are medium in size, with females weighing around 6-9 pounds and males 8-14 pounds. The Sphynx reaches sexual maturity at about 12 months. However, the breed does vary in size, and the larger cats sometimes mature a little later.

When it comes to size, the sphynx resembles other breeds like the:

Sphynx Price

Sphynx cats vary in price depending on their breeding background. The typical cost of a sphynx kitten is between $1,500 to $3000. However, if purchasing from a lesser-known breeder, they are likely only 95% Sphynx.

More well-known breeders can charge between $3,500 to $6,000 per kitten, and sometimes if the bloodline is really pure, the kitten can go for over $10,000, making them one of the most expensive breeds out there.

Adopting a Sphynx

Finding a sphynx up for adoption might be challenging, as they are an expensive breed, and not many people will give them up or abandon them. However, if you are lucky enough to find one in a shelter, it would be much cheaper than buying from a breeder.

Adoption fees range from $50 to $300. Finding a kitten would be like finding a nugget of gold in New Jersey, but you might be able to locate an adult, usually with health complications.

Visit your nearest shelter and ask them to contact you if they find one, or you could approach a breeder and see if they know about a retired Sphynx you could adopt.

Use sites like Petfinder or Rescue Me! You just search for the breed you want, and if there are any results, they will notify you. In addition, cat lovers also have the option to filter by location, age, and color.

Cost of Maintaining a Sphynx

It can be costly to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a Sphynx. They eat a lot for their size, mainly due to consuming more calories to help them stay warm as they don’t have much hair. Below is a breakdown of monthly costs you can incur when caring for one of these bald beauties.

Food

While Sphynx cats can survive on regular food, you want to be strict with their diets. Because these cats are prone to heart disease and skin conditions, you will likely need to purchase high-quality food, which is expensive.

They thrive off food high in Omega fatty acids as it nourishes and keeps their skin healthy. In addition, any food with a high meat content is ideal.

Expect to spend between $20 to $60 a month on food.

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Grooming

If you think that Sphynx cats don’t require any grooming because they hardly have any hair, you are wrong. They are actually very high-maintenance when it comes to upkeep.

Because they don’t have a lot of fur to absorb their natural oils, you must bathe them at least once a week using high-quality shampoo.

It’s always best to ask your vet which shampoo to buy as your cat could have extremely sensitive skin. In addition, their ears need a good clean with Q-tips regularly, and their nails need trimming.

Expect to spend between $5 to $20 on grooming each month.

Veterinary Expenses

Veterinary expenses will differ from cat to cat. However, sphynx cats are susceptible to heart disease, skin conditions, and Hereditary myopathy. If this is the case, you will spend a lot of money on veterinary bills and medication.

If sphynx cats don’t have any chronic conditions, you still have to take them for regular vet check-ups to maintain their health and for preventative measures.

Expect to pay anything from $50+ monthly on medication and vet bills.

Pet Insurance

To avoid expensive veterinary bills, you should invest in pet insurance. There’s no telling how often your sphynx will need to see the vet, so having insurance will ease the cost. Keep in mind that insurance companies will likely charge more for a sphynx because they are prone to skin diseases and heart problems.

In addition, the more your pet ages, the higher the premiums get. You do find plans that include preventative care through your savings, but they are few and far between and cost a lot extra.

Good pet insurance companies include:

You can expect to fork out between $20 to $80 on pet insurance each month.

Litter

Sphynx cats are sensitive to sunlight, and cold temperatures, so they should be indoor cats, which means they will need a litter box. Because the sphynx has sensitive skin, always aim for unscented litter. Unfortunately,  all-natural litter doesn’t come cheap.

Nobody likes their home to smell of cat urine, so budget for products that will reduce the smell, like liners and sprays.

High-quality litter can set you back $30 to $70 a month, while liners cost around $5 monthly.

Stimulation

Having toys, scratchers, and cat trees for your sphynx is very important. While they are not that active, they do need stimulation on a daily basis. A cat tree is ideal for them as they love lounging up high and looking down on everyone; bonus; they can scratch it to their heart’s content.

Investing in a high-quality cat tree will save you money in the long run as you won’t have to replace it as often. However, the price for these trees can cost $50+. If you have two or more Sphynx cats, the price goes up to around $200 for something more substantial.

Toys are essential, too, especially if your sphynx is home alone all day. Luckily, they are not rough, and the toys should last a while. Budgeting $15 to $30 a month on toys is ideal.

Sphynx Kittens

Sphynx kittens are very cute with their big ears and eyes.
Sphynx kittens are very cute with their big ears and eyes.

David Tadevosian/Shutterstock.com

Sphynx kittens are the cutest little things with their big eyes and ears. These kittens are ready to leave their mothers at around 12 weeks old and weigh between 2 to 3 pounds. They are great with young children and other pets; their traits include:

  • Loyalty
  • Friendliness
  • Intelligence
  • Playfulness
  • Neediness
  • Easily entertained
  • Sociable

Sphynx Lifespan

A purebred sphynx whose breeder screened them for health issues is generally a healthy cat who can live between 9 to 15 years. However, there are no guarantees, and Sphynx cats are susceptible to dental disease, skin conditions, heart disease, obesity, and hereditary myopathy.

For preventative measures, taking your cat to the vet regularly for HCM (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) screenings is in your best interest. This will help your cat later in life and hopefully extend their lifespans.

In fact, the oldest Sphynx ever recorded was 34 years old! His name was Grandpa Rex, and he lived with his owner, Jake Perry, in Austin, TX.

Sphynx Breed vs. Mixed

The sphinx has a very obvious feature that sets it apart from other cats, which is its absence of fur. However, there are several types of hairless cats, each with its own unique features and personalities. These include:

  • Peterbald (Sphynx and Oriental Shorthair mix)
  • Bambino ( Sphynx and munchkin mix)
  • Minskin ( Sphynx, Devon Rex, Burmese and Munchkin mix)
  • Dwelf (Sphynx, munchkin, and American Curl mix)
  • Donskoy
  • Ukrainian Levkoy

The sphynx looks very similar to the Peterbald, except they don’t have as many whiskers, eyelashes, or facial hair in general (Peterbalds have a mustache.) In addition, the sphynx cat has a shorter head.

Cat Breeds Similar to the Sphynx

There are two breeds similar to the Sphynx in size and personality: the Korat and Siamese Cat.

Korat

While many people don’t even know this breed exists, it’s actually one of the oldest and most stable breeds in the cat kingdom.

They hail from Thailand, where they are usually gifted to brides on their wedding day in pairs for good luck.       

  • Common name – Korat
  • Other names – None
  • Lifespan –  10 to 15 years
  • Weight – 6 to 10 pounds
  • Hair Color – Blue with silver-tipped fur
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Kitten Cost – Anywhere from $500 to $800

Siamese

Siamese cats make great companions because they are intelligent and charming. Of course, their stunning blue eyes don’t hurt either. Just like the Sphynx, people often say they are more like dogs than cats and love human contact and attention.

  • Common name – Siamese
  • Other names – Meezer or  Mese
  • Lifespan –  15 to 20 years
  • Weight – 8 to 15 pounds
  • Hair Color – White or cream with pointed dark coloration on the face, tail, and paws
  • Hypoallergenic – Yes
  • Kitten Cost – Anywhere from $600 to $2,500

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

Sphynx Traits: What to Know Before You Buy FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Sphynx cats good pets?

They are great for families and get along well with children and other pets, but for singles who have a lot of time on their hands, Sphynx cats would make great companions.

What is wrong with a Sphynx cat?

Sphynx cats are susceptible to dental disease, skin conditions, heart disease, obesity, and Hereditary myopathy.

What two breeds make a sphynx cat?

A domestic shorthair delivered a hairless kitten in Canada in 1966 called Prune. Because this was so strange, people thought she was genetically special and crossbred her with a Devon rex to create a stronger genetic hairless breed.

Is Sphynx cat high maintenance?

Many people believe that because they don’t have a lot of fur, they are easily maintained. However, their upkeep is demanding. Because there is not much hair to absorb the natural oils, their skin often becomes oily, dirty, and sometimes smelly. Vets recommend bathing them at least once a week.

What is the lifespan of a Sphynx cat?

A purebred sphynx whose breeder screened them for health issues is generally a healthy cat who can live between 9 to 15 years.

What are the differences between Devon Rex and Sphynx?

The key differences between Devon Rex and Sphynx are size, coat type, appearance, and behavior.

Sources
  1. Cat Breeds List, Available here: https://www.catbreedslist.com/all-cat-breeds/sphynx.html
  2. Pet Finder, Available here: https://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/sphynx/
  3. Cat Fanciers' Association, Available here: https://cfa.org/sphynx/sphynx-breed-standard/
  4. Great Pet Care, Available here: https://www.greatpetcare.com/cat-breeds/hairless-cat-adoption/
  5. Hepper, Available here: https://www.hepper.com/medium-cat-breeds/
  6. Pet Educate, Available here: https://peteducate.com/how-big-do-sphynx-cats-get/
  7. Hills Pet, Available here: https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/cat-breeds/sphynx#:~:text=Sphynx%20Cat%20Breed%20Information%20and%20Personality%20Traits&text=Notable%20for%20its%20hairless%20coat,t%20take%20herself%20too%20seriously.
  8. Daily Paws, Available here: https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/cat-breeds/sphynx
  9. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphynx_cat#Genetics_and_breeding

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