Grooming & Temperment

Due to the lack of hair Sphynx possess, oil which would normally be absorbed by hair tends to build up on their bodies. As a result, Sphynx cats do require weekly, monthly, to no bathing at all (depending on the individual cat). Bathing is a five-minute task easily accomplished since Sphynx kittens are accustomed to bathing at an early age. Some actually enjoy their baths and will purr while being lathered up. Often times they will jump in the tub or shower with their people to play. We use Dove Cream Oil Body Wash and bath gloves on our cats. The bath gloves cut bathing time in half and help to gently exfoliate leaving their skin smooth and soft.

Appearance & Needs

Sphynx cats are a very lively, comical, and intelligent breed. They are extremely friendly and outgoing, always in the mood to snuggle. Part monkey, child, and dog is probably the best way to describe them. They prefer to sleep under the covers next to their humans at night and bask in the sun during the daylight hours. They are not usually timid and aloof, as some cats can be. Sphynx cats usually like to interact with all family members. Because of their affectionate nature, they seem to do best in homes with other pets.

Also due to the lack of hair, Sphynx cats' ears tend to build up with a brown waxy substance and require weekly to monthy cleanings (again depending on the individual cat). We use OtiCalm ear cleaner. After putting several drops in each ear, massage the base of the ear and allow your Sphynx to shake his head (to loosen the debris). Carefully use Q-tips to remove the wax. Care has to be taken not to injure their ears with the Q-tips. Never go farther down than you can see. Ear cleaning also takes only a few minutes.

Sphynx are indoor cats and should not be left outside unattended. As a general rule, Sphynx cats are comfortable when we would be comfortable naked. During the cold winter months, I provide my Sphynx cats with a heated pet bed, which they seem to glue themselves too when they're not eating or playing. Because Sphynx cats tend to burn more energy keeping warm, we use a high-quality food to maintain their higher metabolisms. We feed and recommend Wellness, Nature's Variety, and Science Diet Hairball. We feed the hairball food for the added fiber.

A common misconception is that the Sphynx cat has no hair at all, but in fact, this is not true. Some do have a fine down over their bodies that can be felt but not easily seen. The most hairless cats feel rubbery and sometimes even sticky. The most pleasant texture seems to be on those cats with fine, short hair covering their bodies. Most Sphynx have slight hair on their nose and ears, while some have hair on their tails and feet. This hair is usually very fine and soft. Wrinkled skin is highly desirable, particularly around the muzzle, between the ears, and around the shoulders. They have warm, muscular bodies with dumbo ears and captivating lemon-shaped eyes. Their chest is well rounded with a thick, muscular neck. Sphynx males are generally larger than Sphynx females. Adult females usually weigh between 6 and 9 pounds, while males are usually between 9 and 15 pounds; however, this can vary to some extent either way.

Health Issues

Cardiomyopathy is a form of heart disease experienced by humans, cats, and many other animals. Cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed,1 so the numbers can vary. As many as 1 of 500 adults may have this condition.1. HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) is the most common heart disease diagnosed in cats. HCM may affect up to approximately 15% of the domestic cat population, primarily as a subclinical disease.2

Most cats with HCM show no signs and live normal or near-normal lives despite HCM.2 However, a substantial minority of cats develop clinical symptoms of heart failure which require medical therapy.2 For most cats with clinical heart failure caused by HCM, the long-term prognosis is poor, despite best efforts with medical therapy. Medical therapy doesn't appear to have the same benefit in cats as it does in humans. One could hope that the future might bring more specialized feline therapies.

Thus far, I've spent my entire adult life typing medical reports for cardiac electrophysiologists and cardiologists. Our very first Sphynx, which came home with us in 1999, was diagnosed with HCM pretty early on, so this has always been a very important subject to me.

NC State Veterinary Hospital has more recently found a DNA mutation in about 60% of HCM affected Sphynx cats and has developed a genetic test that is available on their website. 3 Unfortunately, the test, in its current capacity, is limited in value, as cats testing DNA positive for the mutation (many even homozygous +, meaning 2 copies of the mutation) have shown no clinical signs even at elderly ages. The test has not proved to be predictive of outcome.

Their website states, "We identified a DNA mutation in about 60% of affected Sphynx Cats. This mutation is also found occasionally in healthy adult Sphynx cats who do not have the disease. This referred to as “incomplete penetrance”. This means that even if a cat has the genetic mutation, the mutation may not actually penetrate or lead to the development in full disease in that cat. This is also a common finding in Maine Coons, Ragdolls and human beings with genetic mutations associated with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy."


1. CDC (Center for Disease Control)

2. Dr. Mark D. Kittleson, School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, and Veterinary Information Network, 777 West Covell Boulevard, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
Etienne Côté, Department of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

3. NC State Veterinary Hospital, Genetics: Sphynx Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).