In the European standard of the Sphynx breed it is written: “This is a little kitten, a little puppy, a little monkey and a little child in one little hot body.” The appearance, character, behavior of the sphinxes are so unusual that they put this breed as if it were a separate entity. The interest in them and their popularity all over the world is very high. There are even special associations uniting lovers of this breed. The largest of them – ISBFA (International Association of Sphynx Lovers and Breeders) – is registered in the USA, but has its members all over the world. So where on earth did sphinx cats come from?
Images of hairless cats have been found in the Aztecs. Perhaps the descendants of those cats have survived almost to this day under the name “Mexican Hairless Cat”. Single specimens of this breed could still be seen at exhibitions in America at the beginning of this century. But, unfortunately, it was not possible to save it, and the last Mexican cat died in the 1920s, leaving no offspring. Mexican hairless cats were different from modern sphinxes. They had a mustache, they were of a lighter type, had a wedge-shaped head with large ears and amber eyes; in winter, short hair grew on their back and tail, which disappeared by summer.
Now it is difficult to say whether the modern Sphynx is a descendant of those cats or the hairless mutation has reappeared, but in 1966 in Ontario (Canada), a hairless kitten was born from a simple domestic cat. Usually, it is from this moment that the emergence of modern sphinxes is counted, but, strictly speaking, this is not entirely true. Despite the systematic breeding work with the first hairless cats, for various reasons the breed almost died out by the mid-70s. And only the repeated finding in 1978, in the vicinity of the same Ontario, of three hairless kittens in the litter of a simple street cat gave a “second wind” to the breeding of the breed. Perhaps the appearance of hairless kittens, who want to be born in cold Ontario, happened before, but these three kittens were lucky – they were picked up, rather out of pity, by compassionate people.
After unsuccessful attempts to “cure the unfortunate from lichen”, people finally realized what kind of cats they had in their hands. Kittens get to “professional felines”, and later it was with them that the real breeding of Sphynxes began.
The greatest influence on the breed was exerted by crossing with the Devon Rex – for the inflow of fresh blood and modification of the exterior (in particular, thanks to the Devon Rex, the Sphynx have large ears). But in general, modern sphinxes are much closer to the original version found in the “garbage dump” than just to the Devonian-Rex without wool. By the way, one of the founders of the breed, the seventeen-year-old cat Bambi, still lives “retired” in one of the Sphynx catteries in Canada.
Perhaps the most important thing in the sphinx is the amazing softness of the outlines. There is not a single straight line in his figure, they are all rounded, all shapes are convex, and at the same time, fluid, smooth. In this way, it resembles a Chinese figurine (perhaps that is why the second, less well-known name of the sphinx is “Moon Cat”). Even the front legs of the Sphynx are slightly bent in the manner of a “bulldog”, and the tail is very flexible and always smoothly curved or pressed down from the side with a dense “donut”. The ends of the ears are also necessarily round, and the ears themselves are large and wide. Another feature inherent in the Canadian Sphynx is thick skin that forms folds. Kittens up to one month old are completely folded, including even the tail and paws. With age, wrinkles are smoothed out, and in adults they remain on the head, neck, a little on the stomach and torso, which gives them the characteristic look of “oldies”. The more folds remain in the adult sphinx, the better, and their deficiency is considered a serious defect. In one TV show, they said that the sphinx should have at least 9 folds on the forehead, but this is not entirely true – after all, such an amount accumulates in almost any cat, if it were deprived of hair, but it is in the sphinx that folds are required on the chin, cheekbones and neck … The body of the sphinx is dense and muscular. In no case should it be “lean”, on the contrary, the belly resembles a “pear” in shape and the cat ate well. The hind limbs are longer than the front ones, which is why the sphinx has a very peculiar gait. The skin feels like suede – because of the very short fluff that covers it. The fur is preserved in all sphinxes on the nose, on the back of the ears, a small amount is allowed on the ends of the legs and tail. In addition, wool in these places can appear with improper feeding, with low temperatures or with hormonal changes during maturation.
The content of the sphinxes does not present any particular problems. But you need to take into account some of the features of this breed. Sphynxes have a very high energy exchange, so their body temperature is 0.5 – 1 degrees higher than that of ordinary cats. To maintain it at a high level, the sphinx must eat a lot (on average, 2 times more than an ordinary cat). The Sphinx is very voracious and eats almost everything, but the optimal diet for it consists of meat and porridge (rice, buckwheat) in approximately equal proportions. Replace meat with different “