Are Sphynx cats good pets?

The question in the title is pretty blunt and generalized. The answer depends upon your point of view. For me the answer is, no. But I’m a grumpy old man and I know the downsides. The Sphynx cat is popular because of their appearance which is arresting, as it would be, because we are used to seeing cats with a fur coat. Out of 10, I’d give the Sphynx a 5 in terms of how good they are as pets.

We have to remind ourselves that this animal companion is highly abnormal; a cat without a coat. It’s a defect but it is strange that many people see it as an asset when it really isn’t.

Sphynx Cat photographed by Helmi Flick
Sphynx Cat photographed by Helmi Flick. Published with her permission.
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Cold

Think about the current cold snap in the UK. It’s going to last about 10 days. Think about the cost of living crisis in the UK at present. You have to heat your home up to 70°F to keep your hairless cat warm enough because they can’t keep warm without a coat.

This means you’re going to have to spend a lot of money purchasing very expensive gas and electricity at highly inflated prices thanks to Mr Putin just to keep your hairless cat warm.

Of course, they can crawl under the bed covers and lie on your pretty pink sheets but be prepared for those sheets to be stained with the grimy oils on their suede-like skin.

Staining

If you visit the Reddit.com website (which has a good cat section) you will bump into feedback from Sphynx cat owners. One ‘u/kenziiel’ posts a picture of her cat with the following title “My sphynx [it’s in lowercase] never stays clean what do i do? I bathe her and the day after she is dirty and staining my sheets again. Help!”

I think that sums it up entirely. We know that you have to clean your Sphynx cat regularly to remove the oils from their sebaceous glands which is deposited on their skin rather than going into the fur. These oils pick up grime in the air and around the home and so they become dirty. And they deposit this grime on sheets for example.

Health

And I’ve just written an article about a couple of health issues that Sphynx cats might suffer from because they are predisposed to these diseases. One of which is yeast overgrowth on the skin which can cause skin dermatitis and other issues. Just an example about the kind of health conditions that will spin off from a defect in their anatomy.

Related posts on 2 Sphynx cat health issues

Sphynx cats prone to developing yeast infections

Sphynx cats have a higher prevalence of certain ocular diseases compared to other feline breeds

I mention inherited diseases further down the page too.

You can’t have such a major defect in a animal’s anatomy without consequences. Yes, they look cute and interesting. Their behaviour is monkey-like. They are intelligent. They are good companions to many people but they don’t have a fur coat! Be prepared for some aggravation and added expense.

Hypoallergenic?

Another point: some people think that Sphynx cats are hypoallergenic meaning they don’t cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to cats. That’s untrue. Sphynx cats still groom themselves using their saliva. In the saliva is the feline allergen Fel D1 which causes the allergic reaction. And their sebaceous glands deliver the allergen too.

The Sphynx cat might be slightly better than a regular domestic cat in this respect but no domestic cat is hypoallergenic. So that advantage can be thrown into the bin.

Sphynx cats are very high maintenance relative to other domestic cats particularly shorthaired moggies.

Stink?

Another point: it is said that Sphynx cats stink. That might be a little bit over the top but it’s a reference to those oils again on the skin. One website says that “due to their genes and other external factors, they can give off a strong smell if you’re not careful”.

I’m not sure what they’re referring to when they mention “external factors” (probably a reference to poor caregiving) and I don’t think their genes cause them to smell unless it’s a reference to the fact that a genetic mutation has caused them to have no fur which in turn results in those sebaceous gland oils on their skin.

Smelly, mushy poop!

Check out this article by clicking on the link below:

Sphynx cats producing nightmarish amounts of smelly slushy poop

Friendly

On the positive side, Sphynx cats are like any other domestic cat in that they are “eager to show their love”. They want to be friendly and many years ago I wrote an article about domestic cat intelligence and I recall that this breed is at the top or near the top. That intelligence is translated into good companionship. You want an interactive cat and you will get it with this breed.

Intelligent and playful

They will make you smile just looking at them! And they are playful and curious and inquisitive. That’ll make you smile too but don’t forget that you are living with a full-time indoor cat.

There is a hidden flaw with full-time indoor domestic cats and is this. Very few if any cat caregivers are able to really ensure that there indoor cat is adequately stimulated as a means to substitute how their life would be if they were allowed outside. So they can get bored. They deal with boredom by snoozing and sleeping which is why a lot of people think that domestic cats sleep all the time. It’s not quite true. They’re just killing time. They are not fully asleep.

Energetic

It would seem that Sphynx cats are more energetic than the average cat breed and therefore they will need more entertainment than usual. That’s going to be an added demand on a caregiver and I don’t think most people can genuinely meet that demand.

This is linked I suspect to their intelligence. The smarter a cat, the more stimulation they need.

Lap cats

On the upside, because they get cold quite easily, there are far more likely to be lap cats. Not all regular domestic cats are lap cats. Most people like their domestic cat to be a lap cats so that box can be ticked.

Clingy?

But, then again, on the downside, to some people this cat might be too clingy and too demanding. Many cat caregivers will like it but others won’t. It’s horses for courses and it depends how much time you’ve got. I don’t think you can be working full-time, living alone and satisfy the demands of this cat. It would be unfair perhaps even cruel to leave your Sphynx cat alone all day in a chilly apartment during winter. Just a thought.

Purchase

There may be added maintenance costs and it is said that Sphynx cats are expensive to buy. To be honest, I wouldn’t think they would be that much more expensive than any regular purebred cat. I recently said that the Maine Coon cat in the UK costs £1200. I would think that this is the sort of price you would pay for a hairless purebred cat.

More health – inherited issues

Finally, we have to discuss inherited genetic diseases. The skin disease I mentioned above might be inherited. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine state that this cat breed can inherit myasthenic syndrome (CMS), a congenital muscle weakness. It is an autosomal recessive gene which will cause the problem if there is inbreeding and the gene is homozygous.

The breed also can suffer from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is quite a common heart disease causing the thickening of the left ventricle heart muscles in other purebred cats such as the Maine Coon.

This disease can shorten the life of the Sphynx cat. That’s another downside. Losing your cat companion is traumatic. Seeing your cat companion dying and not being able to do anything about it substantially is distressing. I mention this because the title is about how good this cat breed is as a pet.

This heart disease should not be present in Sphynx cats. In my view it is due to poor breeding. You don’t get this kind of prevalence of a specific health problem in the general cat population.

Yes, this is a 5/10 cat.

Below are some more articles on this cat breed.

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