Hairless Cat Breeds: How to Offer Your Unique Feline Some Tender Loving Care

With their hairless nature, the sphynx cat attracts attention wherever it goes.
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Most people have a natural inclination to keep away from things they don’t understand. They may be burning with admiration for the said thing but are too careful to explore it. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many cat lovers are hesitant to choose any of the hairless cat breeds. Even among those that did choose to adopt a hairless cat, few really understand how special these cats are and the kind of special care they need. We’re here to give these unique breeds a chance to be understood better.

Hairless cats are some of the most misunderstood felines. Yet they double up as some of the most loyal and fascinating pets. They are such a fun sport that some even offer acrobatic entertainment to their owners. How about that? Hairless cats are also quite easy to care for, although their skin has special needs that you should be aware of if you plan to adopt one into your family.

Image showing two hariless cats sitting on a couch

Some people view hairless cats as eerie creatures, but we know you’re not one of them. You want to understand these beautiful being better, and that’s why you’re here. In this article, we will delve into the different types of hairless cats and find out about their origin. This article will also explore their unique features and equip cat owners with the necessary skills to give them the tender loving care they deserve.

Busting Myths Surrounding Hairless Cats

Hairless cats breeds have attracted a wide range of misconceptions that we need to discuss up front. To bring the truth to light, we’ve compiled a list of misconstrued facts about hairless cats and the actual facts that we would like to divulge on.

Bad Misconceptions

Many people are drawn to the unique appearance of hairless cats and would love to bring them home. Unfortunately, they are driven away by some beliefs that are simply untrue, such as:

Bad Misconception #1: They are Creepy and Unnatural

As pointed out earlier, some people regard hairless cats as eerie creatures or aliens. They cringe at the prospect of encountering such felines. What a gross misrepresentation of facts; hairless cats are an authentic, beautiful, and totally unique feline breed that should be embraced.

Image showing a hairless cat sitting on a mans head

Several of the hairless breeds have been approved by the Cat Fanciers Association and The International Cat Association, so they are definitely not aliens—whether you mean it literally or figuratively.

Bad Misconception #2: They are Totally Hairless

Hairless cats are rarely totally bald. They actually have small hairs that may be hard to spot with the naked eye. They are intricately donned with a coat of fine downy hair. More like a light layer of peach fuzz than anything.

Image showing a sphynx-cat looking at the camera

Therefore, they don’t feel like a bag of skin and bones to the touch. Their fur is actually so soft that you might have trouble keeping yourself from stroking them all the time.  Although, this also means that hairless cats will shed. All cats shed. There exists no shed-free cat. Some just shed more than others. Hairless cats in particular shed way less than furry ones.

Good Misconceptions

Most of the misconceptions surrounding hairless cats are bad, but some of them are good. However, even the good misconceptions need to be set straight because they may cause new owners to misunderstand the proper way to care for their hairless cat.

Good Misconception #1: They are Super Easy to Maintain

Being hairless, most cat lovers will assume that these cats require minimal grooming. After all, there’s no hair to brush and no need to keep bathing such smooth, flawless skin, right? What an astounding misconception!

Sphynxcat on a vintage chair

It’s actually the opposite. Hairless cats require more grooming and care since their coats tend to be greasier.  Without hair, the oils on their coat are not absorbed and they, therefore, need more frequent baths than your ordinary furry felines.

Good Misconception #2: They are Hypoallergenic

Thought a hairless cat is a solution to your cat allergy menace? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Human allergy to cats is triggered by Fel D1 protein that is found in the cat’s dander (saliva and sebaceous glands).

A hairless Sphynx Cat with a hypoallergenic coat

The assumption that the allergy is triggered by a cat’s hair is inaccurate. True, some people with the allergy are known to tolerate hairless cats. On the flip side, hairless cats are known to aggravate the allergy in another group of people.

Before acquiring a hairless cat, one may need to have a doctor test them for cat allergies. Furthermore, hairless cats can be quite expensive to purchase. It would be frustrating to spend a fortune purchasing one only to have the allergies take a toll on you.

Types of Hairless Cats Breeds

There are different types of hairless felines, and each has a unique origin. Though they share the hairless trait, they differ in their physical appearances and at times character. They include the following breeds:

Hairless Cat #1: The Sphynx

This is the most widely known type of hairless cat. In fact, when hairless cats are mentioned, most people generally make reference to the Sphynx. The first breed was discovered in 1966 in Toronto, Canada.

The first Sphynx kitten named Prune was born as a result of genetic mutation. Attempts were then made to replicate the mutation and create a whole new breed. Back then, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) noted that the breed was weak and could not be authenticated.

Sphynx cats kitten with mother

However, in 1975 and 1976, two hairless kittens were discovered in Wadena, Minnesota. More Sphynx hairless kittens were found in Arkansas, Minnesota, and Texas. Following a series of selective breeding, today the Canadian Sphynx is an established breed with a strong genetic pool. In 2002, the Sphynx was approved by the CFA to participate in the Championship.

The Sphynx cat is one of a kind. Cat owners who have the privilege of owning these cats get to enjoy their robust and unique personality.  The Sphynx will intrigue you with his unique physique. They are endowed with muscular bodies that make them appear heavier than their size.

Image of a Sphinix cat relaxing in a bed

Their heads are wedge-shaped with large wide ears, lemon-shaped eyes, and prominent cheekbones. They may also have sparse or broken whiskers and eyebrows or may bear none at all.  Most Sphynx cats will sport a potbelly. This should not be a cause for alarm, and it should not drive owners to cut down on their food allocation. It is part of their structural makeup.

Their coats are covered with a layer of downy hair which has the feel of chamois leather or suede. They also have many wrinkles, especially around their ears, shoulders, and muzzle. Their skin is far from plain and boring. It mimics the patterns that would be displayed if the Sphynx had hair. They also have thick paw pads and whip-like tails.

Sphynx cat on a couch

The Sphynx seems to compensate for his intimidating (to some) looks by exuding a warm, adorable personality. They tend to be very affectionate and fond of their owners. They also exhibit extroverted behavior marked by high energy levels.

Many Sphynx cats even engage in acrobatic movements as they can climb and balance effortlessly. Since they love human attention, they enjoy treating their owners to their acrobatic tricks and other hilarious entertainment.

Hairless Cat #2: The Peterbald

The Peterbald was discovered in 1994 in St Petersburg, Russia. They resulted from breeding a Donskoy (a hairless cat) with an Oriental Shorthair. Each Peterbald cat has unique skin color pattern, making them distinct.

Close-up image of a Peterbald cat

They have a slim but muscular stature. Their heads are narrow and long, donned with almond-shaped eyes. They have big ears which are set quite far apart and a wedge-like muzzle. Their oval-shaped paws enable them to firmly hold objects and even open doors.  They are friendly, intelligent, explorative, and energetic. Like the Sphynx, they are very loving towards their owners.

Hairless Cat #3: The Bambino

The Bambino was recently discovered and is still considered an experimental breed. Bambino cats came about after crossing the Munchkin and the Sphynx. They have large ears, short legs, and often display white and pink coats.

bambino-cat in a persons hands

Their back legs may sometimes be longer than the front legs. Some Bambinos have tails with a dash of hair on the tip. Bambinos are friendly and loving. They enjoy cuddling and playing with children and other pets.

Hairless Cat #4: The Donskoy

This cat breed was discovered in Russia in 1987. The Donskoy’s hairless trait is caused by a dominant gene. This is unlike the Sphynx which possesses a recessive hairless gene.

The Donskoy cat looking at the camera

The Donskoy was endorsed by the International Cat Association in 2005. Donskoys are muscular, and they look really cute with almond-shaped eyes and big ears.

Hairless Cat #5: The Ukranian Levkoy

The Ukranian Levkoy has a dog-like appearance with distinct ears that fold inwards. They also have excess hanging skin which gives them a rather wrinkled look. They are mostly medium-sized, muscular, and slender.

Close-up image of the Ukrainian Levkoy breed

Like many other hairless cat breeds, Levkoy cats are friendly, smart and very playful. They do well with children and adults alike as they can be very entertaining companions.

Hairless Cat #6: The Lykoi

This is a hairless breed originating from Memphis, Tennessee. The Lykoi is black in color and has a wedge-shaped head. Despite belonging to the feline family, they resemble a werewolf, which explains their name. Lykoi is a Greek word meaning wolves.

Image showing a lykoi cat in wild

Lykoi cats are calm and very affectionate towards their owners. They will often seek you out to cuddle with you.

Hairless Cat #7: The Elf Cat

This is a new breed that was discovered in 2006. They appear as a result of a breeding between the Sphynx with the American Curl. Their distinctive feature is their ears that curl backward.

Image showing an Elf Cat laying down

It is also these uniquely-shaped ears that gave them their name. Although not much is known about the personality of these cats since they appeared very recently, they are said to be playful and charming.

How to Care for Hairless Cats Breeds

The fact that hairless cats require more care than felines with hair cannot be overemphasized. Keeping a hairless cat is a commitment. It should be a well thought out decision with full realization of the responsibilities involved. Taking care of these felines is however not rocket science. It just involves a little more work. Here is a list of rules that hairless cat owners should abide by to ensure their unique felines are well taken care of:

Rule #1: Give Regular Baths

Hairless cats require more grooming than other cats. They have minimal hair, so the oil secreted on their skin is not absorbed. They, therefore, tend to have a greasy feel. They also leave oily marks on bedding, furniture, and any other places they perch on.

Excess accumulation of oil on their coats can cause dry, flaky skin. It is advisable to give them a bath at least twice a week. Use a mild veterinary-approved shampoo and make sure to thoroughly rinse it off of the cat’s body before toweling them dry.

Image showing a Sphinx cat taking a bath

Also, pay close attention to the areas between the cat’s folds and wrinkles. When introduced to baths early, hairless kittens will embrace bath time easily. Use very soft towels to pat their sensitive skin dry. Because they lack fur, their ears should be cleaned regularly as they easily attract dirt and wax. Use a gentle cleaning solution and cotton swabs.

Their nails also trap dirt easily and should be cut and cleaned weekly. Ensure to also brush their teeth regularly. Also, do not forget to provide a litter box for all their bathroom needs.

Rule #2: Keep Them Indoors

Hairless cats should mainly be kept indoors. Their hairless skin is super sensitive and highly susceptible to sunburns. Exposed to too much sunlight, their skin will easily suffer damage. If the cat has to be outdoors, always ensure to apply vet-approved sunscreen on their coats.

Image showing a Sphinx cat laying on a chair

At the same time, however, they could use a little dose of sunshine. You can ensure they get just the right amount by installing sun-blocked windows. Your feline can safely sunbathe beside such windows. You can also dress them in sun protection clothing before they venture outdoors.

Another reason why you need to keep hairless cats indoors is due to their delicate skin. Their soft skin easily gets damaged by either objects or other pets. It is much safer for them to be indoors where you can control their movements and interaction.

Rule #3: Keep Hairless Felines Warm

Hairless felines feel warm to the touch. But that doesn’t mean they are warm enough. This is because they lose more heat than hair-coated cats. They, therefore, need a little help to keep their bodies warm.

Image showing a dressed hairless cat

They will often be found snuggling close to their owners. They also love to hop on their owner’s bed right under the covers. Since they have no hair to insulate them, owners must ensure they provide a warm, cozy home environment. They should also be warmly dressed during cold weather.

Rule #4: Offer Them More Food

Because these felines lose more heat than other cats, they need to make up for it by eating more. Their high appetite can also be attributed to the fact that they are very energetic and have a high body metabolism.

Little Sphynx is eating strawberry

You can opt for special food manufactured for hyperactive cat breeds. Also, make sure you feed the cat on foods rich in meat protein as opposed to vegetable protein. Remember cats are obligate carnivores that require meat as their primary diet to thrive.

Rule #5: Ensure They Have Some Company

Most hairless cats are fun-loving, playful, extroverted, and explorative. They are not loners; they thrive in some good company. With their extremely high energy levels, there is never a dull moment when you are around them.

Image showing two little hairless cats getting rest together

The Sphynx cat, in particular, is known for their fascinating acrobatic antics. As a responsible owner, you need to make sure you allow full expression of this energy. Your cat will appreciate the company of another pet. Also, if you have kids, allow them to play and fool around with your all too eager pet.

Rule #6: Shield the Kitty from Parasites

Having discovered how fragile your hairless feline’s skin is, you need to ensure he does not become a breeding ground for both internal and external parasites. Discuss parasite prevention measures with your veterinarian and have them administered to your cat.

Image showing little hairless cat near her owner

During warm, humid weather, your hairless cat may suffer from mosquito bites. Apart from itching, this may also trigger parasitic ailments. Ward off the mosquito menace by ensuring there is no stagnant water in your compound.  You may also need to ensure that no doors or windows are open to prevent entry of mosquitoes into your home.

Rule #7: Spay or Neuter

In female felines, spaying involves the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries. In males, the testicles are removed. This should be done when the kitten is between five to six months.

Close-up image of a Sphinx cat looking at the camera

Hairless cats, in particular, benefit greatly from this desexing exercise. Uncontrolled breeding among hairless felines may yield kittens with health issues. Spaying and neutering are also known to prevent cancers among felines. Spayed or neutered hairless cats are also less likely to have the urge to explore outdoors. This is a very good thing seeing that they have extremely delicate skin.

Wrap Up

Hairless cats are not exactly what many envision a cat to look like. We tend to visualize cats as cute furry mammals that offer us great companionship. The prospect of owning a hairless cat becomes a deal breaker for many, but not to all. There is another crop of pet lovers that thrive in the unknown.

They are willing to go all out and befriend all kinds of felines in their different colors, shapes, and sizes. Often their boldness does not go unrewarded. Wrapped up in these unique hairless breeds, they will find some of the most amazing pets and companions.

Image showing two hairless cats sitting together having a wall behind them

It is pretty clear that hairless cats have a lot to offer cat lovers. They may easily be considered as some of the world’s most loving pets. However, a lack of understanding of their origin, physical features, and personality has led to many tragedies where these poor cats are abandoned even after they thought they have finally found their forever home.

A section of those who show interest in this feline breed hope that they have found a solution to their feline allergy woes. While a few people are indeed able to tolerate hairless cats, a majority get no relief from their allergies. These kinds of misconceptions need to be curbed so no hairless feline will be let down by humanity again.

Image showing a hairless cat relaxing

In this article, we have debunked all the myths surrounding this hairless breed. We have also explored ways how cat owners can ensure they give their hairless cats the best care.  Ultimately, it is those who venture into the unknown that reap the most benefits. Thomas Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Are you interested in adopting one of these cute hairless babies? Which one of them interested you the most? Did we miss any newfound hairless cat breed? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.