What's a sphynx?
I remember the very first time I touched a sphynx cat, because it was a huge surprise! I was not expecting how warm these little critters are. The normal temperature of a cat is 100-102.5 degrees, and without the fur, that heat is palpable.
The Peterbald and Donskoy hairless cats already existed in the 60's when the Canadian Sphynx gene for hairlessness was first discovered in North America. The Canadian Sphynx has 2 copies of this recessive gene for hairlessness. This means that 2 furry parents could produce a sphynx (25% chance) if they both carry the Canadian Sphynx gene. If 1 parent carries the gene and the other is hairless those odds increase to 50%. When both parents are Canadian Sphynx all kittens are too. Crossing a sphynx with a regular cat is called outcrossing. Sphynx are more prone to certain health conditions (like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy- HCM), and outcrossing is how breeders widen the gene pool to strengthen the breed.
Why are they SO loving?
Sphynx are not your typical cat. They follow you around, want to snuggle with you and are much more dog-like than your average house cat. While no one knows why for sure, theories include that they spend more time with their mothers- most breeders don't let kittens go until at least 12 weeks old, they are heat seeking- always looking for some place warm.. like your lap, or maybe there is a genetic component. Whatever it is, I've only had sphynx with fantastic personalities, and it's so rewarding!
Are they truly "hairless"?
No! There is a lot of variation in hairlessness. Sphynx can be sticky bald, and some grow small amounts of fur- particularly at the "points" (legs, tail, head). Most sphynx at least have some fuzz at the points. My experience is that the more hairless they are, the more oils they'll produce and the more bathing they'll need (and surfaces you'll need to wash). The slightly fuzzy ones are close to zero maintenance and feel incredible. Like most animals, they tend to grow more hair in the winter. My female elf, Elva grew some pants this winter, while my male, Ira is close to bald aside from his nose and tail fuzz.
What colors do they come in?
They come in every color you see in a cat. Ira above is red and white and you can see the color easiest on his nose. Elva above is white, which is really obvious with her butt fuzz. The genetics behind color is super exciting and I can't wait to make a blog post about it in the future.