Helpful Tips and basic care:
**Information provided here is from our personal experience and should in no way supersede medical/veterinary care or recommendations from your veterinarian.
* The sphynx lacks a fur coat but does have a sparse covering of downy fur mainly found on their ears, face, tail, and feet. The Sphynx should be kept indoors only as they are highly sensitive to the cold and are easily sunburnt. The Sphynx is a highly active and affectionate companion often described as part cat, part dog, and part monkey. They are known for their heat-seeking behavior; commonly found on top of computers or televisions, in sunny windows or under blankets. The Sphynx has an extroverted personality, enjoys entertaining and will often be the first to greet anyone who enters their home.
* Please give me a bath at least every two weeks. Some Sphynx only bathe once a month (some Sphynx need even less bathing). Depending on how oily I get it may be more often. I may not particularly care for it or I may actually LIKE it, but I will get "greasy" and leave dirty places on your furniture if you don’t bathe me. Call my breeder if you need help. Some breeders use an all-natural, tear free, baby shampoo and find it works for them. We use Hylyte (lipid based hypoallergenic shampoo formulated for naked babies, can be purchased on Chewy and Amazon), I like that it is formulated for hairless baby's and our vet recommends it too! All our baby's all have beautiful skin and no rashes. Hypoallergenic baby wipes, we use Dove baby wipes, are great in between baths. Remember to use the alcohol and aloe free kinds.
* Please clean my ears at least once a week. I get a black/brown waxy goo that may look like I have ear mites, but it's just a characteristic of my breed. You can use clean dry Q-tips to clean them as you would for yourselves. Or you may opt for an ear cleaning solution found online or with your veterinarian, we like the Epi-otic cleaner, but there are several available. Don't go too deep! Remember that if you don't clean my ears I might get an ear infection or have ugly, dirty ears.
* Please clean my eyes as needed. Since I don’t have eyelashes I can get little particles in them that may hurt me. If you see light brown to reddish colored “eye boogers,” these are completely normal. You can use warm water on a tissue to wipe these away, but only wipe the outside of my eyes. If I have yellow or greenish colored eye boogers, I probably have an eye infection and you should seek veterinary attention for me.
* Please DON’T LET ME GO OUTSIDE!!! I may want to, but there are many "bad" things outside that can hurt me or make me very sick. I love the sunshine, so my human dad has UV tinted the windows I lay in or I wear clothing to prevent sunburn.
* Please DO NOT USE FLEA & TICK TOPICAL MONTHLY MEDICINES on me (Revolution, Advantage, Frontline, etc.) Also, no ketamine, like at the veterinarian’s office for surgery, It is known to be deadly to Sphynx in many cases. This can KILL ME DEAD as I don't have the hair to help absorb some of the medicine. I can easily overdose on this.
* Remember the ear goo? I get similar goo at the base of my nails. Please clean my nails and clip them at least once a week. Clip my nails in bright light so you can see where my nail ends and my nail beds begin (don’t clip the part with the blood vessel). Clipping my nails on a regular bases will help keep me from scratching things you don’t want me to scratch.
* We use feline specific soft toothbrushes, feline toothpaste, and chew toys here to help with breath and teeth here at the cattery. Brush teeth 2-3 times a week.
*. Remember to always have fresh water and high quality food available to me. My temperature runs warmer than ordinary cats, approximately 99.5 to 102.5° is normal for me. To maintain that temperature and metabolism I need extra food and water. We feed a raw based diet 2 to 3 times a day depending on age, and have a premium quality grain free kibble out 24/7. We must also have fresh water available 24/7. We have several filtered water fountains/bowls that are available at all times.
* Would you please get me something that it IS OK for me to scratch on? I like cat trees to climb and scratch on. I like wooden poles with rope wrapped around them! You may want to pin upholstery plastic on the corners of your nice furniture until I am trained on my scratching post. It is clear and will protect your furniture. You can get it at any fabric store. We learned to use a scratching post here at Adora Sphynx so I start to develop good habits for when I go home to you.
* Please, please DON'T HIT ME if I’m bad… I don't understand what "hitting" means, it only hurts me and it will make me afraid of you. If I'm being naughty, you can use a spray bottle filled with water to "squirt" me or clap your hands loudly saying "NO" when I do something wrong! This will teach me that what I did was a "no, no". You can also take out one of my favorite toys and play with me to distract me from the wrong behavior. Laser Pointers or feather wands work very well for this.
* Please give me someplace warm where I can sleep. I will need a little place of my own that is warm to sleep when I’m not "snuggling" with you. The pet stores and Walmart have nice little "covered cat beds" that I will really like (of course I will prefer being with you when you are home).
* Please empty my litter box DAILY!!!!! I do not like a dirty litter box and may find someplace else to go if it is not cleaned on a regular basis.
* Please supervise me when I am playing with "un-cat" toys. Strings and other "people" objects can get caught in my throat and hurt me very badly or even KILL me!
* Please realize that I am a kitten and EVERYTHING looks like a toy to me and will be investigated. You will need to teach me what I can do and what I can’t do in our home.
* Please make sure I have all my necessary vaccinations and parasite cures. Please read my contract to see what vaccines I shouldn't get. Don’t let me around outside cats AT ALL! They may be sick and then make me sick too. Remember that fleas and ticks carry bad diseases as well! Never give FIP vaccine, it can have us contract a fatal illnesses and has been linked to some kinds of cancer in cats. We proudly use Dr. Ryan Church at Mill Creek Animal Hospital in Shawnee, Ks. He helps our mom figure out what will work best for our breed and our lifestyle. If you are in the KC metro and need a great vet or if you don't have one that is prepared to handle this special breed, we recommend looking into using Dr. Church.
* Please be very careful when introducing me to other pets. I love other pets and lived with dogs and cats at my first house but your house and pets are new to me. I will likely be scared at first so please introduce us by scent first by swapping our blankets after I have had a few days to get use to my new place. Then allow safe supervised visual introduction with a dog kennel of baby gate. My breeder introduces our dog friends to us slowly and always had my brother Bodie on a leash once we felt good enough for him to come out of the kennel. This process will take time but is so worth it so everyone feels safe, equal and loved. Doing this process slowly and safely will make everyone more comfortable and can usually prevent future issues.
* Please remember that I AM ONLY A PART OF YOUR WORLD, but YOU ARE MY ENTIRE WORLD. Please give me lots and lots of love as that is what I need most! I will love you unconditionally if you let me. The more you love me, the more I will love you.
* Please call my breeder if you have any questions about me or anything I am doing. She loves me as much as you do and only wants what's best for me!
* Please send updated pictures and funny stories to my breeder too. My first family would love to know how I am doing and what I am like now that I am all grown up.
Your Sphynx’s Health
We know that because you care so much about your cat, you want to take great care of them. That is why we have summarized the feline health concerns you may need to be aware of with the life of your Sphynx.
This does not mean your cat will have these problems, only that they may be more at risk than other cats, especially if not aware. Of course, we can’t cover every possibility here, so always check with your vet if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
This guide contains general health information important to all felines as well as information on for Sphynxes. The information here can help you and your pet’s healthcare team plan for your pet’s unique medical needs together. We hope this information will help you know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re helping you take the best possible care of your new best friend.
Obesity is a major disease that contributes to a surprisingly large number of illnesses and deaths in cats.
This revelation is more well-known and well-understood today than in the last few decades, but too many owners are still ignoring the dangers of extra weight on their pets. Excess weight is one of the most influential factors in the development of arthritis, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. Everyone knows—many firsthand from personal experience—how even shedding just a few pounds can result in improved mobility and increased overall motivation to be active. And the same is true for your pet.
Research suggests that carrying excess weight may shorten a pet’s life by as much as two years, and can cause the onset of arthritis two years sooner. Diabetes, an inherited disease, has a much higher chance of developing in overweight pets, and may never become a problem for a healthy-weight cat. The more obese a cat becomes, the more likely it will become diabetic. Hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver, is another potentially fatal disease in overweight pets; hepatic lipidosis can develop in as few as 48 hours when an overweight cat stops eating for any reason.
So how can we help our pets stay trim? Understanding your cat’s dietary habits is key. The average cat prefers to eat about 10-15 times a day, just a few nibbles at a time. This method, free-feeding, works well for most cats, but boredom may increase the number of trips your cat makes to the food bowl. By keeping your cat playfully active and engaged, you’ll help your pet stay healthy and have some fun at the same time! A string tied to a stick with something crinkly or fuzzy on the other end of the string, and a little imagination—you and your cat will both be entertained. Food puzzles, like kibbles put in a paper bag or under an overturned basket or box, may help to motivate cats with more food-based interests to romp and tumble.
For really tough cases of overeating, you will have to take a firm stance, and regulate your cat’s food intake. Instead of filling your cat’s bowl to the top, follow the feeding guide on the food package and be sure to feed a high-quality adult cat diet as recommended by your vet. Replace your cat’s habits of eating when bored with extra playtime and affection. Cats typically adjust their desires for personal interaction by the amount of affection offered to them, so in other words, ignoring your cat means your cat will ignore you. By the same token, loving on and playing with your cat a lot will cause your cat to desire that time with you. A more active cat means a healthier, happier pet—and owner!
Dental disease is one of the most common chronic problems in pets who don’t have their teeth brushed regularly. Unfortunately, most cats don’t take very good care of their own teeth, and this probably includes your Sphynx. Without extra help and care from you, your cat is likely to develop serious dental problems. Dental disease starts with food residue, which hardens into tartar that builds up on the visible parts of the teeth, and eventually leads to infection of the gums and tooth roots. Protecting your cat against dental disease from the start by removing food residue regularly may help prevent or delay the need for advanced treatment of dental disease. This treatment can be stressful for your cat and expensive for you, so preventive care is beneficial all around. In severe cases of chronic dental infection, your pet may even lose teeth or sustain damage to internal organs. And, if nothing else, your cat will be a more pleasant companion not knocking everyone over with stinky cat breath! Your vet can show you how to keep your cat’s pearly whites clean at home, and help you schedule regular routine dental exams. We brush their teeth and use feline specific soft toothbrushes, feline toothpaste, and chew toys here to help with breath and teeth here at the cattery.
Like all cats, Sphynxes are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections such as panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, and rabies, which are preventable through vaccination. The risk of your cat contracting these diseases is high, so the corresponding vaccines are called “core” vaccines, which are highly recommended for all cats. In addition, vaccines are available to offer protection from other dangerous diseases like feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Your vet should consider the prevalence of these diseases in our area, your cat’s age, and any other risk factors specific to their lifestyle.
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your Hairless Cat’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, carried in off of shoes, a visit from a friend with pets, cohabitation with other animals/pets, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your feline friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. Many types of parasites can be detected with a fecal exam, so it’s a good idea to bring a fresh stool sample with your pet for his/her twice-a-year wellness exams and deworming. Certain pest or more common in winter when your sphynx is likely to be a bit more immune suppressed, so make sure they have a cold weather checkup and see if your vet recommends a preventative wormer (we do them here several times a year). Please follow your vets advice and preventive medication (as recommended by your vet/necessary) to keep your baby healthy.
Possible for Sphynxes (and most breeds):
Cardiomyopathy is the medical term for heart muscle disease, either a primary inherited condition or secondary to other diseases that damage the heart. The most common form, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a thickening of the heart muscle often caused by an overactive thyroid gland. Another example is dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, which can be caused by a dietary deficiency of the amino acid taurine. While DCM was a big problem in the past, all major cat food producers now add taurine to cat food, so DCM is rarely seen in cats with high-quality diets today. (This is why we add and suggest you continue to add taurine to your babies diet. See Adora kitten care sheet for DVM specific dosing from the cardiologist.)
Catching signs of cardiomyopathy early is important, but a cat’s normal tendency to hide illness can make symptoms difficult to spot. The first thing a pet parent usually notices is rapid breathing, lethargy, and a poor appetite. These symptoms may appear to come on suddenly, often between a few hours to a few days, but in most cases, the cat has actually been suffering quietly for weeks to months and is now in serious trouble.
For a few breeds of cats, genetic testing is available for a specific gene abnormality that causes HCM. Most cats with cardiomyopathy have a heart murmur that can be detected during a wellness physical exam, but a specific diagnosis requires more advanced medical imaging. Finding this problem early, when treatment is most effective, is another important reason to have your pet evaluated twice a year for life.
Cats with heart disease may develop blood clots in their arteries known as FATE (feline aortic thromboembolism). Blood clots most commonly become lodged just past the aorta, the large blood vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the body, blocking normal blood flow to the hind legs. When this happens, one or both hind legs may become paralyzed, cold, or painful. FATE is a life-threatening disease and requires quick action and prolonged medical care. Cats who survive thromboembolisms, however, usually regain full function of their limbs. If your cat is diagnosed with heart disease, we may prescribe medications to help lower the risk of blood clots. If your cat suddenly can’t walk or is dragging one or both back legs and crying, don’t wait! Your pet needs immediate emergency care.
Yeah, they are hairless so...
If you thought you were getting out of grooming chores by adopting a hairless cat, think again! Your Hairless Cat’s skin will build up a greasy grunge if left unbathed—and don’t forget the ears! The insides of the ears will get waxy and need to be cleaned periodically as well. Most hairless cats thrive on a thorough grooming once a week, including a bath, ear cleaning, and nail trim. Be sure to brush the teeth too while you’re at it (a couple times a week minimum) ! Make bath time a loving, trusting routine, and you and your cat will both enjoy the benefits.
Taking Care of Your Sphynx at Home
Much of what you can do at home to keep your cat happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch their diet, make sure he/she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush their teeth and keep her clean, and keep your vets phone number and the number of the nearest pet 24 hour ER available should it be needed. Call your vet when something seems unusual (see “What to Watch For” below). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and recommend for your pet by your vet.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build your pet’s routine care into your schedule to help your Hairless Cat live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine for your pet.
Supervise your pet as you would a young child. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will help keep them out of trouble, off of inappropriate surfaces for jumping, and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth or eyes. Your baby requires weekly bathing and regular wipe downs to prevent oil buildup on their skin.
Sphynxes (just as an feline) can have serious problems with their teeth if left unattended, so you’ll need to brush them at least two- three times a week!
Bathe and Check their ears weekly for wax, debris, or signs of infection and clean when necessary. They need daily play sessions that stimulate her natural desire to hunt and explore. Keep her mind and body active or she may develop behavior issues. (We use the soap below, specially formulated for sphynx by an Adora adopter, Linda at Eight Hands Handmade Soap or Hy-Lyte. See kitten care letter for more.)
Cats are meticulously clean and demand a clean litter box. Be sure to provide at least one box for each cat and scoop waste daily.
It is important that your cat drinks adequate amounts of water. If your sphynx won’t drink water from her bowl try adding ice cubes or a flowing fountain.
Feed a high-quality grain-free feline diet appropriate for her age and a premium raw preferred or premium grain free wet food twice a day.
Exercise your cat regularly by engaging them with high-activity toys.
What to Watch For and when to call the vet:
An abnormal symptom in your pet could be just a minor or temporary issue, but it could also be a sign of serious illness or disease. Knowing when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently, is essential to taking care of your cat. Many diseases can cause cats to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your Sphynx needs help. Call your vet immediately if you notice:
Change in appetite or water consumption
Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, bleeding gums, or loose /broken teeth
Itchy skin (scratching, chewing, or licking), hair loss, or areas of shortened fur
Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes
Fever over 103.8
Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine, or bloody urine
Weakness or exercise intolerance; rapid, labored, or open-mouth breathing; sudden-onset of weakness
Bloody stools or loose stools
Feline Advisory Bureau. Inherited disorders in cats – confirmed and suspected [Internet]. [cited 2013 Apr 19]. Available from: http://www.fabcats.org/breeders/inherited_disorders/sphynx.php
Hamza J, Hannon M, et al. Breed Profile [Internet]. The Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc. [cited 2013 Apr 19]. Available from: http://www.cfainc.org/Breeds/BreedsSthruT/Sphynx.aspx
Gough A, Thomas A. Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
Bell JS, Cavanagh KE, Tilley LP, Smith FW. Veterinary medical guide to dog and cat breeds. Jackson, Wyoming. Teton New Media; 2012.
Disorders by Breed – Sphynx – LIDA Cats [Internet]. The University of Sydney, Faculty of Veterinary Science; 2010 Jul 14 [cited 2013 Apr 19]. Available from: http://sydney.edu.au/vetscience/lida/cats/search/breed/44/Sphynx