Sphynx cats are adorable, even though they lack the furry coat we traditionally associate with cats. They are certainly a sort after breed. People sometimes refer to hairless cats and sometimes talk about Sphynx cats. Are they one and the same cat? Are all hairless cats Sphynx?
Though all Sphynx cats are hairless not all hairless cats are Sphynx. Four other hairless breeds have been developed from the Sphynx and there are three Russian hairless breeds that are totally unrelated to the Sphynx. Some of these breeds are relatively new to the cat world, all are equally coatless and cute.
How did hairless cats originate?
It all began in the swinging sixties with a naturally occurring genetic mutation. In 1966 a hairless kitten was born in Canada and then in the 1970s, two more hairless litters occurred which led to the Sphynx cat breed being developed via selective breeding.
This is the original of the hairless cat breeds in existence today. Naturally occurring hairless kittens caught the attention of breeders and they crossbred these and further generations of these kittens until a robust, healthy Sphynx cat resulted. The Sphynx was first recognized as a breed by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1979.
This Sphynx and Munchkin cross was developed in 2005. Most Bambinos are hairless but occasionally some have hair. I can’t find an image labeled for reuse to add here but you can see one if you search for ‘Bambino cat’ in Google Images.
The Elf cat
This is a relatively new hybrid developed from the Sphynx and the American Curl in 2007. The idea was to create a robust breed free of the heart condition that can afflict the Sphynx. It still hasn’t been officially recognized as a breed.
This is a relatively new breed developed in about 2008. It’s a dwarf cat and is a cross between the Sphynx, the American Curl, and the Munchkin. All images of this cat appear to be copyrighted and not for reuse so I can’t add one here, but you can easily see one by searching ‘Dwelf cat’ in Google Images.
The Minskin is a Sphynx, Munchkin, Burmese, and Devon Rex cross and as developed in Boston in 1998. It was registered by TICA in 2008.
The Donskoy cat is also known as the Don Sphynx or Russian Hairless. It is not, however, related to the Sphynx. The breed was developed from a hairless kitten born in Russia in 1987. It was accepted as a breed by the World Cat Federation (WCF) 10 years later and then in 2005 The International Cat Association (TICA) also recognized it as a breed.
The Peterbald is also Russian and was developed in St. Petersburgh in 1994 from a Donskoy cat and an oriental shorthair cat. It became a recognized breed in 1997.
The Ukranian Levkoy
The Ukranian Levkoy is another hybrid and was developed from the Donskoy females and the Scottish Fold males in the year 2000. It was recognized as a breed in Russia in 2010.
Are they totally hairless?
Hairless cats feel like chamois leather to the touch because they are covered with very short downy fur. Some have noticeable eyelashes and whiskers and some of them have tiny, curly, stubbly whiskers. The name hairless is in reference to their lack of topcoat.
For more information see our article Do Sphynx cats have hair?