Peterbald: They are Friendlier than They Look

Peterbald cat sitting up and looking to his owner
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Pet lovers often face a dilemma. They love the independence and elegance of cats, but at the same time, they like the affectionate nature of dogs. Luckily for you, though many breeds of cats are highly self-sufficient, there are some breeds out there that are huge fans of affection and attention; the Peterbald is one of them.

Perhaps you have children or would like to give someone elderly in your family a companion. If this is the case, then you may want to consider a Peterbald. Highly affectionate and playful, the Peterbald makes a great pet for those who have time to spend with this breed. They‘re extremely social, so, if you‘re not home a lot, then this isn‘t the breed for you. But if you are, then you’ll love the companionship they provide for you.

Studio image of a Peterbald cat

The Peterbald is a natural breed which means that these cats have great immune systems and typically fewer health problems than other non-natural breeds. If you think this breed is usually hairless, it‘s not true. In a litter of Peterbald kittens, only 1 out of 4 will be born hairless—the rest will have short hair, so you can have your pick.

If you‘re curious about the mysterious Peterbald breed, we don‘t blame you. They‘re a very alluring and interesting breed—full of complexities. In this article, we‘re going to provide you with all the information you need to know about the Peterbald breed. From grooming to health, history, and size, you‘ll quickly have an idea of what the Peterbald stands for as a breed. Trust us; this breed will pull you in.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low Maintenance

  • Health: Good; main issues are skin conditions

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupSemi-Hairless, Natural Breed
Weight7 - 14 lbs
Lifespan10 - 12 years

This breed is relatively new in the cat world. The Russians discovered a hairless cat in the city of Rostov on Don in 1988. They named this cat Don Sphynx—after the hairless Sphynx and the city it was found in. The Don Sphynx was then shipped to Europe where their genetic origins were greatly questioned. When bred, the kittens would be a mix of bald, partially bald, or with a full coat. Only a small percentage of the kittens in each litter are completely bald.

Nevertheless, the Don Sphynx was taken to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where they decided to breed the cat with a fine oriental shorthair, Radma Von Jagerhof. This breeding then created the first Peterbald litter of kittens. Since then, these cats have made a great addition to many homes. They‘re extremely loving and affectionate—making them an excellent addition to homes with elderly, children, or other animals.

Beautiful canadian Don Sphynx Kitten

They‘re medium-sized with large oversized eyes and big pointy ears. Though at times their face does not give off the most pleasant of looks, don‘t be deceived. They‘re extremely playful, energetic, and intelligent. They love to play games and entertain those around them.

They are great additions to homes which prefer almost non-allergenic animals as this breed is usually hairless or extremely shorthaired. Thus, they do not have an undercoat. In terms of health, since the breed is relatively new, they do not have any known health issues. However, you do have to pay attention to their skin as they need regular baths to prevent oil build up.

2005 was a big year for the Peterbald as it was the time when the International Cat Association fully accepted the breed into championships. This was a huge step for the breed itself and their owners. Though the Peterbald is highly loved, these cats are still extremely rare.

Main Highlights

  • This breed was fully accepted by the International Cat Association in 2005

  • The genetic history of the Peterbald is still relatively unknown

  • In a litter of kittens, only 1 out of 4 are completely hairless. The rest are mixed. They either have a regular coat, are shorthaired, or almost hairless

  • These cats are almost non-allergenic since they do not have an undercoat

  • They require regular bathing due to the natural buildup of oils on their skin. This is a given with the majority of hairless cat breeds

  • They‘re sensitive to temperature and sunlight

  • These cats are extremely playful and energetic; they do well with children and other pets

  • Their big personalities allow them to be very vocal and talkative

  • Ideally kept as indoor cats

  • They‘re highly intelligent and love challenging mind games and toys

  • They do not like being left alone for lengthy periods of time; they need human or animal interaction

Breed History

In 1988, the first Peterbald cat was discovered in a Russian city called Rostov on Don. Russians adored this breed as they considered it an evolved variant of the bald cats. Thus, they decided to name it Don Sphynx—paying homage to the city it was found in and the original bald cat (the Sphynx). It wasn‘t too long after that this new breed was shipped to Europe. However, questions were then asked.

The kittens were not coming out completely bald—however, they were not developing a full coat either. In fact, many of the kittens would be extremely short-haired with only a small percentage born fully bald.

Don Sphynx kitten sitting

Questions about the dominant genes were then asked. However, these questions were never fully answered. Nonetheless, the newly found breed was taken to Saint Petersburg, Russia. There, one Don Sphynx was bred with a fine oriental shorthair, Radma Von Jagerhof, which created the first Peterbald litter of kittens.

2005 marked the year where the International Cat Association fully accepted the Peterbald breed into competitions. This was a huge step for the breed itself. Today, the breed remains highly desired yet rare.


When you look at a Peterbald, you‘ll notice that they are built elegantly, yet, there‘s evidence of athleticism in their structure. The Peterbald is medium-sized and has an elongated body. Their ears are relatively oversized in comparison to their bodies—which gives them a slightly unusual look. Their ears are triangular in shape and stick up straight from their head. Their large, oversized triangular eyes draw you in. This breed can weigh anywhere from 7 to 14 lbs.

Personality and Character

Though at first this breed may not look very welcoming, the Peterbald is actually a very affectionate breed. These cats prefer to be around their family and adapt very well to children and other pets in the household.

Generally, the breed is known to shadow their family members and are very vocal when in need of attention. Peterbald cats have been known to hold the faces of their family members in their paws, caressing them. You will surely feel their love and affection when in the company of a Peterbald.

Brown Peterbald cat, Oriental Shorthair on hands

Though they‘re highly loving and affectionate, they‘re also energetic and playful. Thus, it‘s important to give them enough space and toys to play with throughout the day. For Peterbalds, if you have climbing furniture and toys, this will be the perfect playground for them.

Yes, they‘re sweet and loving, but they‘re also extremely intelligent and love to be mentally challenged with games. If you love the idea of a dog’s loyalty and affection, you should know that Peterbalds are known for their dog-like qualities.

Health and Potential Problems

The Peterbald is overall a healthy breed with limited health issues. It‘s a relatively young breed as it was found in 1988. Thus, the health and genetic issues surrounding this breed are still relatively unknown. Though this breed is generally in good health, it‘s recommended that you still take your cat to get their routine checkups and vaccinations for common feline diseases, such as:

  • Feline Ectodermal Dysplasia is a condition which causes Peterbalds, specifically, to have poor dentition. This means that they run the risk of developing missing or malformed teeth. It was discovered that feline ectodermal dysplasia is linked to their dominant gene mutation which causes the hairlessness in the breed.

  • Lyme Disease is an infection which is obtained from tick bites. If your cat is an indoor one, there‘s a very low chance of them encountering a tick; however, if they‘re outdoors cats, tick encounters are common. If your Peterbald is hairless, you‘ll have an easier time spotting ticks on their skin. If you do not remove the tick, this is when you run the risk of infection. Symptoms of this disease include high temperature, lethargy, and stiff walking. If caught in time, this disease is completely treatable.

Care Features

Now, if you‘re looking for a cat that‘s highly independent and doesn‘t rely on human interaction, then this is not the cat for you. On the contrary, Peterbald cats are highly social, energetic, and playful. Thus, if your cat is going to be an indoor cat, it‘s best that you socialize with them as much as possible.

Of course, they love to play. However, they also love hanging out by sitting in your lap while you drink your morning coffee. Peterbald cats don‘t really mind how you spend your time with them so as long as you do.

Studio image of a Peterbald cat sitting

If your Peterbald cat is going to be an outdoors cat, then we recommend you let them outside for a minimum of 15 minutes per day. That way, they have enough time to stretch their legs, go for a run, and socialize with other cats. Avoid letting them out when the climate is unfriendly. Due to their hairlessness, these cats need to be protected from excessive exposure to sunlight and the cold.

Feeding Schedule

The Peterbald typically has a faster metabolism in comparison to other breeds. This means that they will require more food per day. It‘s recommended that with this particular breed, you feed them as much as four to five times a day. When it comes to food, they typically prefer a high protein diet as they are natural predators. Thus, you‘ll mainly want to focus on giving your cat a diet rich in fats and proteins, considering their high metabolism. Of course, before doing so, we recommend that you consult your vet. Each cat is an individual, and their needs may differ from one another.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Peterbald isn‘t a hairless breed as many people think. Only 1 out of 4 kittens in a Peterbald litter are hairless. The other kittens can either be almost hairless, extremely short-haired, or have a wiry coat.

If a Peterbald cat has a regular coat, this doesn‘t mean they‘re not a Peterbald. This simply means that they didn‘t receive the hairless gene like their brothers or sisters. In addition, though your kitten may be hairless initially, their coat can change over time. The color and patterns of their coats can vary from brown to black, orange, white, tabby, spotted, etc.

In general, Peterbalds don‘t need intense grooming since they usually have extremely short hair or are hairless. However, during colder seasons, you‘ll need to pay extra attention to them—making sure they‘re kept warm.

image of a Peterbald cat sitting in the grass

You do need to bathe them regularly to remove the build-up of natural oils from their skin. Lastly, you‘ll need to keep an eye on the amount of sun exposure. Due to their short-hair/hairless coat, these cats can easily suffer a sunburn.

You‘re going to need to pay extra attention to their ears. The lack of fur means that their ears are not properly protected. Thus, you‘ll want to clean them on a regular basis.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Because of their playful and lively personalities, they make excellent companions for people of all ages. If you have children, they‘ll love spending time playing and cuddling with the Peterbald. In addition, they‘re extremely friendly to visitors and adapt very quickly to other cats and dogs in the home. Though many people think that dogs and cats cannot get along, they clearly haven‘t seen a Peterbald around other animals.

close-up image of a Peterbald cat

With your children and other animals, you‘ll be able to leave them alone with your Peterbald without having to worry about anything happening—as long as they have been introduced to each other properly and are quite used to the other’s presence already. Peterbalds are even and sweet-tempered. They just want to be friends with everyone they encounter.

Wrap Up

Though the Peterbald looks like a cat breed full of mystery, they‘re actually an open book. Highly intelligent and playful, they love playing games and being challenged by those they play with. Their sweet-tempered and affectionate nature makes them a great addition to your home if you have children or other pets as they love to entertain.

If you want your cat to stand out from the rest, then a hairless Peterbald will certainly be a unique addition to the family. Their large, oversized eyes and pointy ears always attract looks. In addition, if you‘re looking for a cat that needs minimal grooming, the Peterbald is a great option as they do not have an undercoat. Their lack of hair is great if you‘re looking to add a non-allergenic cat into your family.

Beautiful cat Peterbald on a blue background

Do you think the Peterbald breed—with their sweet and loving nature—is for you? Or maybe you like their hairlessness, but you’d prefer a cat that’s petite as opposed to tall? Let us know what you think in the comment section below! If you already have a Peterbald, we‘d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this special breed.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.