At the beginning of quarantine in March, I began researching what the adoption process looks like for a cat. I grew up with animals— mainly dogs, horses, a pig, some hamsters and rabbits, and yes, cats. So I figured that now that I am moved out of my parent’s house, stuck in my apartment, not doing anything, and making those unemployment bucks, I think I should get an animal of my own. During the pandemic, I have the time to devote to loving them, and I think I could create a really good home for a little lonely kitty. Plus, my psychiatrist has already recommended me getting an emotional support animal for my various mental health diagnoses, so I figured why not? Now, I have never been a cat person per-se, but I definitely didn’t have the apartment size appropriate for a dog, nor do I want to take an animal outside in the winter to use the bathroom, so I landed on getting a cat! I began researching cat breeds and very quickly became ENAMORED with sphynxes. Sphynxes, for those of you that don’t know, are hairless cats (no, they are not hypoallergenic).
I started researching more about the intricacies of sphynxes, because it’s not only the looks that are important. I needed to know about their diets, their medical needs, their personalities, their hygienic needs etc… Let me tell you, it’s a lot more work than you would think.
I love my sphynx. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. I don’t regret for a second the investment I have made into her. However, I want to keep people from going into it unaware of the commitment that you are making. They aren’t cats that can be left alone to wander the house. They are perfect little cuddle-bugs that you won’t and can’t leave alone.
Without further ado, here is my list of “Things You Should Know Prior to Adopting A Hairless Cat”:
They need weekly baths (sometimes twice a week), biweekly ear cleanings, weekly eye cleanings, and weekly nail cleanings. With no fur to whisk the oil away from their bodies, they get super oily and will actually leave stains on your furniture or get acne. They have no fur to keep the dirt out of their ears, so you have to go in there with coconut oil and a q-tip and dig around for gunk. Same with their enormous eyes, you have to take a damp q-tip to them when they get gunky or you risk infection. Because they have no fur on their paws they have a tar-like build up around their nail beds that you have to scrape off once a week, otherwise you will never get it off.
Your house needs to be at 80 degrees. Sphynxes have no hair to keep them warm, so their body temperatures run approximately two degrees higher than the average cat’s. Everything is cold to them. They need heating pads, heated blankets, a heated bed, sweaters, socks— anything to keep them warm, especially in the winter. Mine likes to lay on my stomach or lower back inside of my shirt because she’s freezing in 70 degrees.
Speaking of higher temperatures, because their bodies run so high, their metabolisms are off the chart. Sphynxes can eat up to ⅓ more than a normal cat. They also need high quality, all-natural cat food, preferably a raw diet or wet food, or their oily skin will get really bad.
Their poops are notoriously atrocious. Do not get a sphynx if you aren’t willing to not only smell their poop the second it hits the litter, but to get in there with a baby wipe to clean up their little butts. They need their crusty butts wiped or they will drag poop throughout your entire house. Same with litter, if you don’t buy a specific litter (I recommend paper pellets), it WILL get caught in their feet and then you have poopy litter being tracked all around your carpet, your walls, and your bed.
You need a vet familiar with the breed. If you go to a normal vet, they are probably not going to know what to do when faced with your strange mole rat lookin’ cat. You have to do your research, call around, and find a vet who knows what they are talking about.
You need to get them HCM scanned yearly. HCM is a heart condition that is extraordinarily common in sphynxes. If not caught early, it can be fatal. To do this, you have to get rather expensive HCM scans every year to ensure that they are clear.
You have to get them from a breeder. You may get ripped off. There are reputable, good breeders, but more often than not you will run into a scam trying to sell cheap sphynx kittens or auction them off to the highest bidder. This is mostly due to the fact that a sphynx kitten, depending on heritage, coloring, eye color, and a few other factors will range anywhere from $1000-2500. So even if you find a good breeder, be prepared to pay a huge sum out of pocket, assuming you even believe breeders are ethical. I did not pay an enormous sum for mine, because I rescued her. She is a retired mom from a breeder. Unfortunately, at two and a half years old, she has given birth to at least nine children, maybe more. She became infertile and the breeder had to part ways with her because she was no longer “useful.” I saw the breeder’s post about her, fell in love with the pictures, and made arrangements to take her off the breeder’s hands. I would have never bought a cat because there are so many in need of homes at shelters. I just happened to get very, very lucky (to be fair, I also drove roundtrip 12 hours straight to go and get her, and bring her home. I was dedicated.).
Their personalities are a lot more like dogs than cats. I find that my sphynx has two modes: play and sleep. She is either sprinting around, springing off of my furniture, my walls, me… or she is curled up sleeping in my lap or shirt or bed. They are little mischievous bastards, and will chew on anything they can get their paws on. Mine loves pens, and she will knock the pen I am writing with out of my hands. She also hates when we give attention to anything except her, so she will lay on my laptop, even if she only wants me to pet her until she goes to sleep.
They need constant attention. I mean constant. People often adopt sphynxes in pairs so that they have someone to play with, because sphynxes can suffer from extremely bad separation anxiety and depression when left alone.
As you can see, sphynxes are a HUGE time, monetary, and energy commitment. They require a ton of patience and a ton of love. So make sure you are ready and do your research BEFORE you get one. Don’t give them to a shelter that doesn’t know how to take care of them. Throughout all of the “negatives”, it’s all worth it. I promise. Invest your time, money, and love into one of these sweet, beautiful little balls of… well… not fur, and you will not regret it one bit. They truly are such wonderful little genetic mistakes (they literally originated as a breeding accident in the 1960s in Toronto, Canada). Their personalities will make you smile for years on end, and the quality time you get to spend with them is unlike any other animal. Know what you’re getting into, but enjoy every bath, every time they knock your lamp over, and every spooning session. It’s all the joy of life all wrapped up into one very needy little creature.
Helena and Ophelia