What to Know About a Sphynx Cat

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on July 25, 2022
7 min read

The Sphynx cat is a medium-sized breed that's easily identifiable due to their hairless appearance. Their skin is wrinkly, soft, and warm to the touch. Their large ears and lemon-shaped eyes also contribute to the Sphynx cat’s unique look. 

The Sphynx cat’s history traces back to a hairless cat in Canada in 1966. Breeders established the Sphynx cat by breeding this hairless cat with cats that carried the same hairless genetic mutation. Since then, the Sphynx cat has become a desirable family pet due to their affectionate, sociable, and playful nature. If you have children, other pets, or mild cat allergies, the Sphynx cat might be the right pet for you.

Sphynx cats have a unique appearance that may not appeal to everyone. But if you’re looking for a loving, fun, and highly intelligent companion, then the Sphynx cat may still be the perfect fit for you.

Physical characteristics

Sphynx cat sizes generally range between 7 and 10 pounds for adult females and 8 and 14 pounds for adult males. They're a sturdy, athletic, and muscular breed. The Sphynx cat also has a large belly — they usually look like they’ve just finished a large meal.

The defining characteristic of the Sphynx cat is their hairless appearance. But they aren’t completely hairless. Although they lack a fur coat, Sphynx cats still have a sparse, downy layer of fur on their ears, nose, tail, and toes.

This downy fur can come in different colors and patterns, including solid and parti-colors and tabby and tortoiseshell patterns. You can also see the color of your Sphynx cat in the pigment of their skin.

Sphynx cats have loose, wrinkly skin on their bodies and face. You may find that their texture is similar to warm peaches, suede, or chamois leather.

Other noticeable characteristics of the Sphynx cat include their large ears and eyes. Their ears are usually more than 2 or 3 inches long, and their eyes are distinctly lemon shaped. This, combined with their hairless bodies, gives Sphynx cats a unique appearance that may not be to everyone’s taste.

If they're healthy and well looked after, the Sphynx cat’s lifespan can be around 15 years. 

Sphynx cat personality

Sphynx cats are sociable, playful, and entertaining pets. They love spending time with people and enjoy the company of other pets, including dogs. Sphynx cats are intelligent, and they're great at learning tricks.

Sphynx cats are an affectionate and loving breed. They enjoy cuddling and warmth and will often cuddle with you under blankets. But you should be careful not to cross their boundaries — for instance, Sphynx cats may not like when you pick up and carry them.

Sphynx cats will often try to involve themselves in your activities and may be overly demanding at times. If they don’t get enough attention, they can be mischievous. Because of this, you shouldn’t leave Sphynx cats alone for long periods of time.

Sphynx cats are a high-maintenance breed and require a lot of grooming, despite their lack of hair. This is because they create a lot of body oils, but don’t have enough hair to absorb the oil. Instead, the oil builds up on their skin and becomes greasy. This grease collects on their ears and nail beds and can mark furniture. 

To prevent this, you should regularly bathe your Sphynx cat and take time to clean their ears and nails. You should trim their nails, but avoid cutting past the wick or declawing your cat. Otherwise, they can experience pain and other health issues. 

Caring for your Sphynx cat should include brushing their teeth with a cat-friendly toothpaste. This helps avoid built-up tartar and the risk of dental disease.

You should always provide clean water and nutritious food for your cat. Sphynx cats are especially food-oriented, so it’s important to keep track of their weight. They have high metabolisms and big appetites, which leads to a higher calorie intake than most cats. To make sure they’re getting the right amount of food, you should feed Sphynx cats on a regular schedule of two to three times a day.

Sphynx cats are active and know how to entertain themselves. But they still need company and daily playtime. Playing will help keep your cat healthy and mentally stimulated. Staying active can also help curb any behavior issues that may arise due to boredom, including overeating.

As Sphynx cats lack hair, they're more sensitive to temperature changes and injury. This means they should always be kept indoors. Otherwise, they may become sunburnt or too cold. To keep your cat entertained indoors, you should provide toys, perches, and windows for them to see the outside world. You should also provide scratching posts, litter trays, and their own bed. But the Sphynx cat may prefer to sleep in your bed with you.

Even though Sphynx cats are indoor cats, it’s still important to vaccinate them. Viruses can enter your home on things like clothes and shoes, as some viruses don’t need to be directly transmitted from cat to cat. Deworming is also important and can prevent additional diseases. To make sure your cat is fully protected, remember to keep up-to-date with vaccine appointments and schedule regular vet visits.

Due to careful selective breeding, Sphynx cats are a generally healthy breed. They have few genetically occurring health problems, but there are still some Sphynx cat health issues you should look out for.


Obesity is a common health issue that can affect any cat, but Sphynx cats with large appetites are more likely to become obese. Obesity happens when a cat overeats and doesn’t get enough exercise, which causes excess weight. A vet will usually consider a cat to be obese when they become 20% over their normal weight.

Obesity can put your cat at risk of other health issues, such as diabetes, and can even shorten your pet’s lifespan by up to 2 years.

To prevent obesity in your Sphynx cat, be sure to exercise them regularly and feed them the right amount for their age. Boredom may also cause overeating, so remember to provide your cat with plenty of entertainment.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Some studies suggest that Sphynx cat health issues can include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition is the most commonly diagnosed heart disease among cats in general. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy happens when the muscles of the heart start to thicken. Eventually, this can cause heart failure or death.

There usually aren't any early symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Because of this, it’s better to get your cat genetically screened to see if they carry the gene for this disease. Some cats that carry the gene may never get the disease. But if your Sphynx cat does develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, then it’s best to start a treatment plan with your vet to help manage the condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy doesn't have a cure, but the right treatment can help prolong your cat’s life. In severe cases, euthanasia may be the most humane option.

Sphynx cats thrive in active homes and are an extroverted breed. They get along well with new people, children, and other pets. This can include dogs, but they should be introduced with care because individual cats and dogs vary in temperament.

Sphynx cats love jumping and being in high places. This can cause problems if you don’t supervise your cat regularly, as they may cause trouble or land on inappropriate surfaces. Sphynx cats may also cause disruptions due to their heat-seeking behavior. This means they'll often sit or lie on top of computers, televisions, or other objects that produce warmth.

Sphynx cats are very vocal, so they may not be the best breed for people who prefer quiet homes.

If you have mild cat allergies, the Sphynx cat may be the right cat for you. Although no cats are completely hypoallergenic, some are less likely to cause allergies than others. This is because allergies are usually caused by airborne hair and dander. Because Sphynx cats lack hair, they’re less likely to trigger allergies. But this depends on how severe your allergy is as Sphynx cats still produce some dander.

The Sphynx cat’s history dates back to 1966 when a hairless cat was born in Canada due to a natural genetic mutation. After this, breeders encouraged the mutation through unions between this cat and others that carried the same genetic mutation. This also involved breeding hairless cats with short-haired Devon Rex cats.

Breeders continued to carefully and selectively breed Sphynx cats for more than 30 years to make sure that the gene pool was large and varied enough to prevent genetic health issues. The Cat Fanciers’ Association then recognized the breed in 2002.