Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hairless Cats - The Sphynx

Perhaps one of the most strange and curious feline is the one called The Sphynx. Its bizarre looks have brought it a lot of fans around the world. Here are some facts that you may or may have not known about these unique cats.

The so called hairless Sphynx is also known as the Canadian Hairless Cat. The gene of hairlessness has appeared as a spontaneous mutation several times during the past century, in well documented occurrences in Europe, Australia and America. The most famous early hairless cats are probably the two cats owned by a New Mexico resident that have come to be known as the "Hairless Mexican". Most sources agree that the first breeding program for hairless cats was initiated in Canada in 1966, when a domestic shorthaired cat produced a hairless kitten. These early cats were at first called "The Canadian Hairless", "Moonstone Cats" and "Canadian Sphynx" - with time, "Sphynx" became the official name. The Sphynx cats that we have today descend from a couple of domestic shorthair farm cats that produced a hairless kitten. The Sphynx cat became a recognized breed in the mid 1970's. To most people, hairlessness is a denial of everything that cats are about.

But here is something to think about: the history of the Mexican Aztecs contains stories of a breed of hairless cats which in winter developed a slight growth of hair on the back and along the ridge of the tail. Some modern Sphynxes have the same characteristics. The hairlessness, so called, because in fact the mature Sphynx has a very short downy coat which can be felt or seen only with difficulty, but no true eyebrows or whiskers - which is caused by a recessive gene. The mutation changed not only the hair length but also the body type, so that the Sphynx does not merely look like a domestic cat without hair. It looks like an entirely different species. in cats with normal coats, the hair regulates body temperature, and the Sphynx's lack of hair causes it to sweat and also makes it warm to the touch.

Sphynxes are said to be champion purrers, is very people-orientated and affectionate. They are highly intelligent, playful, cuddly, often described as being "part dog, part child, part monkey, and part cat". They have fun playing with appropriate cat toys and table tennis balls, most of all, they really love affection from their owner. Some owners have described the Sphynx as a "clown cat" - with it twisting and turning in mid-air and other antics it certainly can be a very humorous cat at times.

Sphynxes are essentially indoor cats as they have so little protection from adverse weather, and they do not like resting on cold surfaces. Their body temperature is a degree or two above the average for normal cats and they have voracious appetites to compensate for the heat loss.
Sphynxes have a characteristic pose, when standing, of raising one foreleg.

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