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SphynxSphynx

Country of origin: US, Canada 
Breed standards: CFA, FIFe

The Sphynx (also known as Canadian Hairless) is a rare breed of cat known for its lack of a coat.

Characteristics

The Sphynx appears to be a hairless cat, although it is not truly hairless. The skin should have the texture of Chamois leather. It may be covered with very soft hair which can only be described as peach fuzz. Because the sphynx cats have no hair to keep them warm they prefer to cuddle up against other animals and people, they even tend to cuddle up and sleep with their owners under the covers. Lack of coat makes the cat quite warm to the touch. Whiskers and eyebrows may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent. Their skin is the color their fur would be, and all the usual cat marking patterns (solid, point, van, tabby, tortie, etc) may be found in Sphynx too.

Sphynxes generally have wedge-shaped heads and sturdy, heavy bodies. Many cats of this breed develop pot bellies.
Sphynxes are known for their extroverted behavior. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity, and affection for their owners.

Care

While sphynx cats lack a coat to shed or groom, they are not maintenance-free. Body oils, which would normally be absorbed by the hair, tend to build up on the skin. As a result, regular cleaning (usually in the form of bathing) is necessary,usually one bath a week is sufficient. Care should be taken to limit the Sphynx cat's exposure to outdoor sunlight at length, as they can develop a sunburn, similar to that of human exposure. In general, Sphynx cats should never be allowed outdoors unattended, as they have limited means to conserve body heat in colder temperatures, and their curious nature can take them into dangerous places or situations.

Although Sphynx cats are sometimes thought to be hypoallergenic due to their lack of coat, this is not always the case. Allergies to cats are triggered by body oils and not cat hair itself. Sphynx cats become coated with these oils while cleaning themselves, which then dry and become airborne. Those with cat allergies may react worse to direct contact with a Sphynx cats than other breeds. However, conflicting reports of some people successfully tolerating Sphynx cats also exist.

Breeding

Although hairless cats have been reported throughout history (hairless cats seem to appear naturally about every 15 years or so), breeders in Europe have been working on the Sphynx breed since the early 1960s. The current American and European Sphynx breed is descended from two lines of natural mutations:

Dermis and Epidermis (1975) from the Pearsons of Wadena, Minnesota, USA. 
Bambi, Punkie, and Paloma (1978) found in Toronto, ON, Canada and raised by Shirley Smith. 
Other hairless breeds might have different body shapes or temperaments than those described above. There are, for example, new hairless breeds, including the Don Sphynx and the Peterbald from Russia, which arose from their own spontaneous mutations. The standard for the Sphynx differs between cat associations such as TICA, FIFE and CFA.

It has been theorized that Sphynx hairlessness might be produced by an allele of the same gene that produces the Devon Rex (re), with the Sphynx allele being incompletely dominant over the Devon allele and both recessive to the wild type. However a different genetic symbol (hr) is given to the Sphynx gene and it is more likely that these are different genes interacting with each other. Sphynx were at one time crossbred with Devon Rex, but unfortunately this led to the introduction of some genetic diseases and is now forbidden in most breed standards associations. Hereditary spasticity and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (a genetic heart defect) were introduced by the Devon Rex breed. The only allowable outcross breeds in the CFA are now the American Shorthair and Domestic Shorthair. Other associations may vary and the Russian Blue is a permitted outcross in the GCCF. In Europe mainly Devon Rex has been used for outcrosses.

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