When you think of a cat, you most likely picture a small animal with a fluffy coat, dainty ears, and a wispy set of whiskers, but one breed of cat defies these common feline features: the sphynx cat. This unusual cat breed mesmerizes feline fanatics with its largely atypical characteristics. Instead of flowing fur, the sphynx sports an extremely thin layer of fuzz, and there are no whiskers to be found on the snout of a sphynx cat. Compared to other cat breeds, the sphynx’s ears are relatively large and are often compared to the ears of a bat. But how did this breed develop such an odd appearance?

While the breed’s name may remind you of ancient Egypt, the sphynx cat actually originated in Canada. In 1966, a naturally-occurring genetic mutation produced a hairless kitten in a litter of domestic shorthair cats. Realizing the possible popularity a breed of hairless cats could achieve, breeders used this original hairless cat to create an entirely new kind of kitty. The International Cat Association, or TICA, requires a cat to meet several standards in order to be considered a sphynx. In addition to their famed fuzz, true sphynx cats should have a tapered tail, thick paw pads, high cheekbones, a wedge-shaped head, and protruding ears. Although the breed was originally called the Canadian hairless cat, the name “sphynx” was finally selected due to the cat’s resemblance to the Egyptian sphynx.

The sphynx’s strange looks may cause some people to feel uneasy, but this breed has a personality that anyone could love. Because they lack the fur that typically keeps cats warm, the sphynx loves to cuddle with their owner. Affectionate and playful, sphynx cats are known for their love of attention and can be prone to showboating their acrobatic abilities. A very intelligent breed, the sphynx has a knack for leash training and loves to take walks with their owner.

Unsurprisingly, a breed as peculiar as the sphynx cat requires an abnormally high level of maintenance to keep happy and healthy. The breed’s lack of fur and deep folds in its skin makes it difficult for the sphynx to keep itself groomed, so most sphynx owners bathe their furless felines daily. The sphynx is also vulnerable to the elements. Without hair to protect against the sun, the sphynx sunburns easily. Because human sunscreen could cause health problems in cats, coconut oil is often used to shield the sphynx’s skin from harmful UV rays. Weather-related issues don’t end with the summer for the sphynx. When winter winds bring temperatures to unsafe lows, sweaters are recommended to keep the sphynx cozy.

Despite the constant need for upkeep, the sphynx provides ample opportunity for companionship. If you want a strange but sweet companion, the sphynx may be the “purr”-fect pet for you!

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