Are Sphynx Cats Actually High Maintenance?
Yes and No! When I was a new sphynx owner 3 years ago, I didn’t realize that the lack of hair causes a build up of oils, causing sphynx to look dirty over time. Luckily this comes off easily with kitty soap and water. I use a bath glove which makes bath time much faster and less traumatic for everyone. You need to balance over washing your sphynx with keeping them clean, as too many baths can stressful and dry out their skin. The spots where your cat lays frequently will collect these oils and turn brown over time (think cat bed, favorite spot on the couch, window sill). My experience is that this is worse the more bald your cat is- a little bit of fuzz goes a long way to reduce oils. The good news is, this comes off really easily with soap and water or the washing machine.
This oil build up also extends to the nails and ears. The nails will have the black/brown oil build up at the cuticle that you can remove with a wet cotton swab or cloth. I use cotton swabs dipped in cat ear cleaning solution to clean the outer ears weekly. Even a weekly ear cleaning doesn’t keep their ears perfect. It is speculated that the lack of hair protecting the ears can make sphynx more prone to ear infections. Be careful not to get water into your sphynx’s ear, water can be a breeding ground for infection when stuck in the ear canal.
Aside from more frequent bathing/ear cleanings, sphynx are more prone to other health issues. Sensitive stomachs/loose stools, and HCM are among the big ones. Everyone has an opinion on sphynx digestive issues, and there are many sphynx health groups online that can be a great resource. Food changes, stress, environment changes, and surgery can all give your sphynx GI issues. Stick with a food that works well for you and don’t change it unless you have a problem. If you do change, make it gradual. Consider potential allergies and intolerances when opting for a new food. Some cats don’t digest poultry well- try another protein source. Some people swear by a raw diet. Find what works for you, and stick with it.
With any sign of loose stool, your first step should be a fecal PCR test just to make sure you’re not dealing with an infectious cause. This is a very expensive test through your vet, but you can do it yourself directly through the lab. Zoologix is a great California lab that offers PCR tests, and they will send you supplies and a prepaid/addressed envelope for a fraction of the price. Most vets do offer fecal testing in house, but not PCR. PCR is the gold standard, the most sensitive test you can do to detect the common bacterial and viral pathogens.
I’d say sphynx are high maintenance in the best way- most sphynx want to be at your side constantly. If I want a night of sleep without someone stepping on my face and sleeping on top of me, I have to shut the door and keep them out. Sphynx cats have been an incredible lesson in love for my kids, I hope you get to experience the joy of a sphynx in your own family!