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Sphynx Cat Health Problems: 6 Vet-Reviewed Issues

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 23, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Sphynx Cat Health Problems

Sphynx Cat Health Problems: 6 Vet-Reviewed Issues


Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Sphynx cats first came about in the 1960s as a result of a genetic mutation. Ever since, cat owners have been in love with the unique look and personable nature of the hairless breed.

Like other purebred cats, Sphynx cats may develop genetic health conditions. There is some controversy1 around their breeding as hair provides protection, temperature regulation and communication. They’re also prone to the same conditions that affect cats as a species. Despite this, they are known to be energetic and intelligent companions. Here are 6 common issues for Sphynx cats.

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The 6 Common Sphynx Cat Health Issues

1. Skin Problems

Sphynx cats are hairless, so they lack the protection that fur provides. They need frequent baths to keep their skin free from excess oils and dirt, which can lead to skin problems.  Urticaria pigmentosa is another Sphynx skin problem, it results in red pigmented spots on the skin. Sphynx cats may also be prone to sunburn from lying in direct sunlight since they don’t have a thick layer of fur to protect them.

Signs of skin problems may include:
  • Lesions
  • Red spots
  • Greasy, itchy seborrhea patches
Sphynx Cat on window
Image Credit Erin Agius, Unsplash

2. Poor Temperature Regulation

Sphynx cats aren’t able to regulate their body temperature effectively, leading them to get chilly easily in cold weather. It’s important that they have sweaters, heated cat beds, and extra blankets to stay warm. Likewise, their lack of fur makes them unable to cool their bodies appropriately in hot weather, and they should have access to cool areas to stay comfortable. They shouldn’t be allowed outside for long periods in either hot or cold weather.

Signs your cat is cold:
  • Avoids walking on cold surfaces
  • Stays close to human companions for warmth
  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Cold to the touch

3. Ear Infections

As a result of hairlessness, Sphynx cats have no hair in their ears to protect them from excessive wax buildup and ear infections. It’s important to clean your cat’s ears regularly with pet-safe wet wipes or a cat-safe ear cleansing solution. Avoid sticking anything directly in your cat’s ears—stick to wiping the area outside the canal.

The signs of ear infections may include:
  • Swollen or red ear canal
  • Head tilting
  • Yellow discharge
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Smelly ears
sphynx cat ears check by vet
Image Credit: santypan, Shutterstock


4. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a common disease in Sphynx cats that causes the heart muscle to become abnormally thick. Because of this, the cat’s heart, over time, begins to fail. Your vet should check for signs of heart problems at each exam since hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can develop over time.

Signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:
  • Labored breathing
  • Hind leg paralysis
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Thromboembolism
  • Acute pain in the hind legs

5. Hereditary Myopathy

Hereditary myopathy is a generalized muscle weakness caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve signals to the muscles. Eventually, the disease progresses to the point that cats can’t walk or exercise because of excessive muscle weakness. Usually, the early signs of muscle weakness can show from three to 24 weeks.

Signs of hereditary myopathy:
  • Muscle trembling
  • Abnormal gait
  • Head bobbing
  • Collapse
  • Exhaustion

Sphynx cat laundry washing machine hepper nest liner

6. Periodontal Disease

Sphynx cats are prone to dental issues, including periodontal disease. Regular dental cleanings can remove plaque and control infections that cause bad breath, drooling, and red, swollen, or bleeding gums. Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, which can be controlled if it’s caught early enough.

Signs of periodontal disease:
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Yellowing teeth
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating

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What Health Conditions Are Common in Cats?

Along with genetic health conditions, Sphynx cats may be susceptible to health conditions that affect all cats as a species. Feline lower urinary tract diseases (FLUTD) and other urinary tract problems, fleas, ticks, and other parasites, and eye problems like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, cataracts, and glaucoma are all common in cats. Fortunately, many of these health conditions can be treated or prevented with regular veterinary care.


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Sphynx cats are sweet and lovable companions. Like all cat breeds, they’re prone to some genetic conditions and general health issues, but with regular veterinary care, you can help your Sphynx cat live a long and full life.

Featured Image Credit: Irina Vasilevskaia, Shutterstock

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