What is a Peterbald cat?

What is a Peterbald cat? This is not an unexpected question because this is a rare cat breed in my opinion. I have lots of books on cats and the cat breeds and none of them contain a reference to the Peterbald! I have to go back to my own research that I carried out about 10 years ago and use that as a starting point.

The breed was created in 1994, which means that it is a recent cat breed (many cat breeds were created in the mid-1990s). The Peterbald is accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) but not by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. You might describe them as hairless cats but they come in a range of variants. They often have a very thin rather unruly fuz of hair all over them. They’re very slender resembling the appearance of the modern Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs.

Peterbald cat
Atticus at Ferndale Wa Show. The older he gets, 9 mos here, the better he looks. Love his markings. Tica Quadruple Grand Championship TICA AWARD: YR 2015-2016 BEST PETERBALD IN THE PACIFIC NW REGION. Photo: Heavenly Hairless Cats – taken by Helmi Flick. The photo is copyright protected. Thanks.
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This is unsurprising because they were created by crossing a Russian Don Hairless i.e a Don Sphynx and a Oriental Shorthair. The breeder who created this cat lived in St Petersburg, Russia. This tells you where the name of the cat come from. It is an amalgam of the first part of the name “Petersburg” i.e. “Peter” and the word “bald” to mean hairless.

I’ve taken the liberty of using an image from the Heavenly Hairless Cats website to provide some basic points about the appearance of the Peterbald cat (below). The photograph at the top of this page is by Helmi Flick who is one of the world’s most celebrated Photographers and who has given to me many years ago a licence to publish photographs on this website. This featured cat was bred by Heavenly Hairless Cats.

Peterbald main characteristics
Peterbald main characteristics. Image: Heavenly Hairless Cats a breeder of the Peterbald.

Heavenly Hairless Cats tell me that the average weight of the Peterbald is between eight and ten pounds for male cats and 6 to 8 pounds for females. They say that they make ideal companions for experienced cat owners, individuals with other pets, families with older children and people wanting an indoor only cat.

Yes, these are indoor-only cats because they are semi-hairless. This makes them susceptible to being harmed by bright sunshine (sunburn) and very cold conditions (frostbite). It is the same for Sphynx cats. They, too, must be kept inside for their own protection. Another reason to keep a Peterbald inside is to avoid them being stolen. These are very rare cats and they will stand out in the neighbourhood if they are allowed to wander around freely. It is impossible to envisage a Peterbald being allowed to go outside without supervision.

I’m told that their skin feels like warm chamois leather or warm rubber. I’m sure that it is a very pleasant experience stroking a Peterbald cat. They vary in their baldness. In fact, there is a range of coat types with them becoming progressively more hairy namely: bald, flock, velour and brush. All are within the breed standard.

Peterbald cat

Peterbald cat “Kahlua”. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

As expected, the bald Peterbald is a hundred percent hairless. The skin is soft, warm and wrinkled and there is a lack of whiskers and eyebrows and they can be sticky to the touch. Perhaps this means that like the Sphynx cat you have to do wash them frequently to remove a build up of oils which would normally be used to condition the coat. A build up makes attracts dirt.

The range

  • A Peterbald “”flock coat refers to a 90% hairless coat. The hair is sparse, short and down-like (soft). This coat type can be further divided into the “usual” flock coat and an “extra short” flock coat.
  • Another category is “velour”. The hair on a cat with this description is from 1 mm to about 5 mm in length. You can feel and see some hair and the light reflects from it.
  • The Peterbald “brush” coat is made up of curly, wiry hair and is the longest hair length of this breed. The whiskers are always curly. The hair varies in length.
Peterbald cat

Peterbald cat “Buggsey”. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Breeders say that you should bathe your Peterbald regularly otherwise the skin becomes dirty. Perhaps bathing should be carried out every 2 to 8 weeks.

Some more on the Peterbald

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