Do Sphynx cats smell?

A book dedicated to genetic diseases and behavioural aspects of purebred cats informs me that the skin of Sphynx cats ‘usually feels oily and has a rancid odor’.

Sphynx cats are popular but need bathing often to remove sebum buildup on their skin
Cute Sphynx cat. Recently bathed?! Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

That’s a bit of a shock. It might surprise people who are thinking of adopting a hairless cat like the Sphynx.

The author also writes, ‘Gray-black lipid deposits collect under the nail folds’. ‘Lipids’ are substances that are soluable in alcohol but not water.

The Sphynx cat can smell and needs to be shampooed with an anti-seborrheic shampoo once or twice a week to control the greasiness and odor on and emanating from the cat’s skin.

What is going on? Well, the skin has glands which produce oils to keep the fur in good condition. But there is no fur so the oils have nowhere to go except to build up on the skin where it becomes excessive. It can clump together in the folds of the skin.

There you have it. By the way an anti-seborrheic shampoo is one which treats skin conditions such as seborrhoea and mange. Seborrhoea is an excessive discharge of sebum from the sebaceous glands; the oils I referred to.

The book I referred to in the opening paragraph is ‘Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats, edited by Ross D. Clark, DVM.

P.S. The book states that Sphynx cats can inherit spasticity, a neurological condition. It is also found in the Devon Rex. Cats cannot chew and swallow normally and often die of aspiration pneumonia. The responsible gene appears to be autosomal recessive. If adopting I’d ask the breeder about this. It is inadisable to adopt pedigree cats without visiting the breeder in person.

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