A Sphynx cat profile.
A Sphynx cat profile. Photography by Seregraff / Shutterstock.

Sphynx Cats — 5 Things to Know About Living With Hairless Cats

Sphynx cats, AKA naked cats or hairless cats — what's it like to live with them? A Sphynx cat owner spills on everything from chattering to coat care!
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I got my two female Sphynx cats — also known as naked cats or hairless cats — within a year of each other from the same responsible and experienced breeder. Skinny Mini is a mischievous five-year-old calico tabby, and dainty three-year-old Fly has sealtortie-sepia coloring. (Isn’t that an Instagram filter?) I had done my research on cat breeds and was not going into Sphynx cat ownership unprepared — or so I thought.

Since adopting my first Sphynx cats, I’ve come to realize that:

1. Sphynx cats are stunning creatures, but not everyone will agree with me

Sphynx kittens meowing.
There’s lots to learn about Sphynx cats before you parent one! Photography by Oleg Mikhaylov / Shutterstock.

Sphynx cats allow us to appreciate fascinating feline morphology without all that fur getting in the way. I knew I liked the unique appearance of Sphynx cats before getting one, but I didn’t know I’d be so completely captivated by a Sphynx cats’ big bat ears, runway model cheekbones and delightful skin folds. I love how Fly’s legs look like she’s wearing sagging pantyhose, and how when Skinny Mini quivers her tail it sends a ripple of wrinkles up her back. I can’t get enough of stroking their soft, warm skin and kissing their adorable pot bellies. Sphynx cats often don’t have whiskers or eyelashes, which draws even more attention to their expressive, almond-shaped eyes and chubby whisker pads.

Unfortunately, I also realize now that a lot of people find this breed ugly and unappealing. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown someone a photo of my girls only to be met with a grimace and a comment along the lines of, “Ugh! They are so strange looking! Why would you want a cat like that?” I certainly find this type of remark insulting, and always hope that the same person doesn’t show me a picture of their kid just after.

I understand that Sphnyx cats are not everyone’s cup of tea, but as my mother used to tell me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” (Or, just lie to me and tell me my cats are super cute.)

2. These naked cats are noisy!

Sphynx cats are known for being chatterboxes. They “talk” to their owners using a whole repertoire of chirps, squeaks and whines, and my girls are no exception. Skinny Mini is definitely the more communicative one. She’s got the vocal range of Mariah Carey and a diva personality to match. If you disturb her while she’s resting, she’ll let out a sound not unlike an annoyed teenager’s “Whaaat?” And, like a typical teenager, she’ll talk back to you if you tell her “no.”

And when Sphynx cats aren’t using their mouths to (constantly) express themselves, they are shoving food in there. Thanks to an enviable metabolism, these cats have hearty appetites. Keeping them healthy and well-fed means putting aside a certain budget for quality cat food, and since I have two, I feel like I’m always buying cat food — and bags of litter. Owning a pair of Sphynx cats has turned out to be more costly than I thought, but if it means cutting back on my own personal expenses to make sure my cats have what they need, I don’t hesitate.

3. Hairless cats can get a little… gross

A hairless cat with blue eyes.
Hairless cats need a regular bathing routine. Photography by Gareth Cowlin/Shutterstock.

I knew before getting my cats that hairless cats does not mean maintenance-free cats. Owners of Sphynx cats will tell you that these four-legged naked cats need a lot of care. I was lucky because I adopted my Sphynx cats as adults, and the breeder had already accustomed them to getting washed, having their ears cleaned and their nails trimmed; I simply had to keep up the good habits. I was warned that Sphynx cats can leave an oily residue on clothes and linen (and on their owners) if you don’t bathe them weekly, but it was still quite a surprise the first time I saw it for myself.

Just a few days after getting Skinny Mini, she started sleeping under the covers with me. It was October, and still very warm in the southeast of France, and her sweating coupled with a bit of anxiety at being in a new home meant that she was even grimier than what I now know is normal. I woke up one morning to find a greasy, Skinny Mini-sized mark on the white fitted sheet. “Look!” I said to my husband with a certain degree of intrigue and disgust. “The cat is literally coming off on the bed sheets!”

And just like people, some Sphynx cats are better at keeping themselves clean than others. Skinny Mini loves giving herself pedicures to clean out the gunk that gets trapped in her nails beds and between each toe. She’ll park herself in the middle of the living room, usually when we have company over, fan out her webbed feet, and go to town noisily licking and chewing every claw. Fly prefers that I roll her up in a blanket, burrito style, and wipe off each nail for her. She’s more awkward than Skinny Mini, and will often accidentally swipe her long tapered tail through her litter box … deposits. I won’t notice until she jumps up on my lap and leaves a smelly surprise on my clothes. And she may only be five pounds, but Fly’s flatulence will make your eyes water.

A word to the wise: Sphynx cats require regular grooming in order to keep them healthy and comfortable, so if you are thinking to yourself, “Who’s got time for all that?” then Sphynx cats are not for you.

4. Sphynx cats really don’t like to be alone

Unlike my (fully clothed) ginger tabby, who is a typical feline mix of cuddly aloofness, Skinny Mini and Fly border on being creepy little stalkers. You want personal space? Alone time with your significant other? Impossible with Sphynx cats in the house. They are all up in your business all of the time. I’ll often be taking a shower, minding my own business, and turn around to find Fly perched on the edge of the tub, her large unblinking eyes boring into mine. “You wanted five minutes alone in the bathroom?” she seems to be asking. “I don’t think so.” (And yes, they can open doors!)

Don’t get me wrong — I love that they follow me around and solicit my attention constantly. I’m home alone a lot as my husband works long hours, and my cats give me something to focus on and take care of. They are always up for playing or warming my lap, and it’s impossible to feel lonely with them here. Sphynx cats don’t like being left alone for long periods of time, so it can be a good idea to have a pair of them if you’re not home much. And even though Skinny Mini is a lot less needy since I adopted Fly, she still loves to sleep tucked in the crook of my arm every single night.

5. These hairless cats will completely steal your heart

I am completely in love (read: obsessed) with my Sphynx cats. My life is so much fuller because they are in it, and while I might not have known what to fully expect when I got my first Sphynx (and then a second), I’ve worked to become to the best Sphynx cat mom I can be. These cats have totally won me over with their exotic look, playful personalities, and affectionate dispositions.

Owning Sphynx cats (or any pet, for that matter) is not for those who don’t want a big commitment. I’m ready and willing, though, because if I’ve learned anything in the crazy ex-pat life of mine, it’s to go big or go home.

Tell us: Do you live with Sphynx cats? What are some of the surprising things you’ve learned about parenting hairless cats? Tell us in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by Seregraff / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2014.

About the author

About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.

Read more about Sphynx cats — AKA naked cats or hairless cats— on Catster.com:

38 thoughts on “Sphynx Cats — 5 Things to Know About Living With Hairless Cats”

  1. I have a 7 year old white and orange Sphynx named Bevis. He gets bad ear wax. Does anyone else’s cat have that? Also his right eye gets inflamed and I have to put neo poly dex ointment in his eye a lot. I’ve had him tested for upper respiratory a few times. Maybe it’s a herpes infection.

    1. Alicia SMith, LVT

      Have your vet do an upper respiratory PCR panel. If it comes back positive for herpies virus there is a medication that you can give to help limit the signs.

  2. Thank you or that article. Well written. That’s exactly my Garrik. I just got my first Sphynx kitten in December 2019. He is 10 months old now. It took my husband and I a couple of months to adjust to a few of his “habits” LOL. The worst is just like you described…after his early morning “routine” he would jump on our bed, run…preferably, over the face or a chest, and wipe his feet and tail on white sheets leaving traces…both color and “wonderful” smell :) That was happening for a while but now he is growing and for last month I can see that he has learned how to be more accurate in the litter box. No more smell, no more traces, he got so much wiser about it. And his grooming habits improve with time. However, every single point that you described above is there: noisy, eats like an elephant, vocal…and super sweet. I have another kitten of the same age, Scottish Fold, they are best friends. I don’t feel guilty about leaving them alone, they spend quality time together when we are at work. I completely agree with you, this breed is not for everyone…it is for those who want to love and be loved in return. :)

  3. I loved this list. I didn’t realize other sphynx cats were as chatty as my little Romeo. I’ve wanted a sphynx cat all my life. I’ve always seem the beauty in them, and I take very strong offense whenever someone calls my baby boy ugly. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve wanted a sphynx cat for a long time now. I have an 11 year old black female named Friday and a 9 month old orange bobtale named prince. They get along great but I was wondering how a sphynx might get along with other breeds. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Drew,

      It really depends on the cat’s individual personality. Here are some tips on introducing cats:
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-training-introducing-new-cats-tips
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/bringing-an-adult-cat-into-your-home
      https://www.catster.com/kittens/introducing-kittens-to-your-other-resident-cats
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/having-two-cats-or-more
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/do-cats-get-lonely-do-cats-need-other-cats

  5. I’ve wanted a sphynx cat for a long time now. I have an 11 year old black female named Friday and a 9 month old orange bobtale make naked prince. They get along great but I was wondering how a sphynx might get along with other breeds. Any thoughts?

  6. My youngest child (23 years old) got a Sphynx and she is the coolest pet — very odd to my eyes at first, but I’ve fallen in love with her. She’s sort of a super-cat, like a cat whose intelligence and activity levels have been multiplied almost exponentially. While I can see that a Sphynx is not a pet for everyone — needing more care and attention — it is a very lucky person who can share their life with one. (And they no longer look odd to my eyes; rather, they are exceptionally beautiful!)

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  9. I recently adopted a 12 year old male Sphynx – Pharoah – and he is so amazing. When he purrs, he sounds congested – the breeder had him vet-checked by 2 separate vets, and both said it was nothing to worry about – and interestingly, his offspring do the same thing. When he is resting and not purring, his breathing sounds very normal. He is quite the cuddle bug and a built in foot-warmer under those covers on cold nights! Can’t imagine my life without him!

  10. Anna-Mariya Levenova

    Hi!
    My name is Anni and I am taking care of my friends’ Sphynx cats. They have 3 adult ones and 5 small kittens – 2 weeks old. However, I am a bit worried as the female cat is not eating enough. My friends have been gone for one week. Could the cat miss them ? Today was the first day that she didn’t eat anything at all. She didn’t have much energy and she was constantly trying to cuddle. What should I do? Please help me!!!

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  12. I’m going to be taking my friends Sphynx this weekend. I’ve been researching all about them. Just worried she’ll be lonely until I get home. I’ll wash her and keep her warm. She was in heat so I’m waiting. I’ll have to get her fixed and chipped. Can anyone advise what food is best for them? And what cat liter? I’ll head to the pet store this weekend to get her stuff. They’re so cute!!!

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      We suggest asking a vet re: food and litter specifically for a Sphynx but these articles might help:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/choosing-the-right-litter-for-your-cat
      https://www.catster.com/cat-food/what-to-feed-cats-what-nutrients-cats-need
      https://www.catster.com/cat-food/how-much-should-i-feed-my-cat
      Best of luck with your new kitty!

    2. Here is my best advice:
      Get all-natural cat litter made of trees for now but start toilet training your Sphynx right away and it’ll be the best thing ever (you can teach her how to flush too, later; but in the meantime you’ll enjoy no messy/smelly bathroom to clean because your cat will use the toilet and all you have to do when you return from work is to flush the toilet and quickly wipe the seat with baby wipe if your cat likes to “dig” the hole in the water like mine which leaves paw prints on the seat).
      I buy the highest quality dry food for my cat – Orijen (for Cats & Kittens, in a yellow bag) – and feel good about her diet being better than mine, heh, with all natural/wild-caught ingredients. In addition to always having dry food, I give her raw food – Primal Nuggets, Chicken & Salmon (they come frozen in a bag, sold at better pet stores only) – defrosted, adding a tiny bit of hot water to make it not cold and topped with appetizer for appeal – google Waruwa pouches (but there are other good brands too).
      Getting your cat fixed is the right thing to do for her health and your saneness. If it’s a female they can be very loud and drive you crazy with howling, going into heat every few days, ouch.
      By now you should have some experience with your Sphynx and are probably already crazy in love with him/her :) Best of luck!

      1. Noooooooo! Teaching cats to poo in the toilet is extremely bad for the environment and it *literally* kills sea otters and other marine mammals. I’m not joking here. Most cats have toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that only can reproduce in cats, and that is spread into the world through their fecal matter. Modern sewage systems can’t kill T. gondii and so even treated “grey water” is flushed into our waterways. This land-based parasite then is found to be responsible for approx. 17% of sea otter deaths worldwide.

        You can have your cat tested for t. gondii, but it’s expensive and not 100% a reliable indicator of carrying the parasite, according to my vet. So, takeaway is, follow your local regulations regarding cat waste; I bet they say to put it in your trash. This is the only safe way to disposal at this time!!

        1. So I was like cool, Sphinx cats can use the potty! Then read your comment… immediately my chest tightened and I got light-headed. Thanks for raising awareness though.

    3. Annabella Bottali

      A bit of a belated response but “worlds best cat litter” has been a life saver! Can mum of 4 speaking here! :)

  13. Ps.: i am also deep in love with our sphynx. We ALL are – my boyfriend – my sisters – my mom- even my dad – who normally dont has a big heart for animals… i met some people in work or neighbourhood and so on which dont understand that or also think sphynxes are ugly and stuff.. but people like this have – in my opinion – not really a good soul/big heart – having a sphynx helps you keeping bad persons away from you or finding them out .. ;-)

  14. I have a „normal“ and a sphynx cat. My norma hairy cat was a very bossy, lazy, big and agressive cat… until we got our naked buddy – its like he changed his personality! It was amazing. He is more happy now, he plays now (9 years old) like he is a kitten again and also together with our sphynx.. he also cuddles with the sphynx. its like sphynx cats steal all our hearts – also grumpy cats hearts!

  15. Omg I could have written that post myself, especially the bit about how offended I get when people turn their noses up when I show a picture of my gorgeous little girl, like said, would they like it if I said their baby was ugly or disgusting??? I have to say though that although I had furry cats growing up I had gone right off them as an adult due to a neighbours unpleasant feline, then my sons girlfriend was unable to keep her sphinx as it was being traumatised by her children. I had looked after it several times when they were away and when she said she was rehoming her I couldn’t bear the thought of her going to someone else and not being loved like I had come to love her. So now , my Queenie has a loving home , my bed is now a cat bed, my house has turned into a giant cat tree and she has more toys in her toy box than my son ever had lol! She greats me every time I come home and cries for me if she wakes up and can’t find me. I can’t imagine my life without her now and feel so fortunate to have her in my life. The saying “dogs have masters, cats have slaves” is so true…at least in Queenies home!!

  16. I adopted Loki when he was about 8 months old. I loved that boy – my heart still aches of his loss 2 years ago. He fit every description you wrote about. Every. Single. One. Curious though – his immune system was always fragile and while he was free, he was very expensive with health issues. Most of his teeth fell out or were pulled due to his gums waging war on his teeth at about 2 or 3. His digestive system always resulted in a challenging cat box situation such that at some point he didn’t go with a “normal” deposit in the cat box . I don’t know what his final issue was other than white blood count off the charts and internal pain. I only imagine his internal condition had digressed to the point that, at age 9, I had to let him go. I would love to have another, but the suffering hurt so much. My vet said I did well by him, and gave him a good life.
    What has other’s experiences been with their Sphinx health ?

  17. I have a 17 year olds Sphynx named Jack who is literally the love of my life. Lol. I feel a little guilty when I leave for work every morning because I feel like he has a little bit of separation anxiety. But, he doesn’t like other cats so a friend is not an option. So, I make sure to tuck him into a warm blanky before I walk out the door.

    My ex has a Sphynx as well. Our vet called us and asked if we would be intrested in adopting a rescue that she had rescued from some very cruel people that kept him in a bird cage. Which still breaks my heart. Despite his young age we knew he had lived a pretty sad life so we showered him with love and he is now the sweetest Kitty. We do say he likes to call shenanigans in the middle of the night however.
    When people Adopt these unique creatures they definitely need to know what they are in for. A lady that I work with mentioned she was considering adopting one and when I explained to her the care that is required she decided to stick with a furred baby. I explained how even the windows have to be inaccessible because they can get sunburned. And oh, the bathing that is required. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was never a cat person per say but I am definitely a Sphynx person. My stepdaughter has one as well so it definitely runs in our family.
    We really don’t go on vacations unless we can bring him because I don’t trust anybody with my baby. Nor would I ever consider boarding him even for a moment. I never would consider leaving him overnight alone either. I can imagine how sad he would be….So it’s definitely a commitment.
    Reality sets in every now and then and I know hes 17 years old and my heart will be broken when he is gone so I enjoy everyday with him and keep him happy and healthy.

    1. ???? I have 3 who are 17..all are sick with different issues now, they are “clothed cats” and are so very special. I maintain their health. I know how heart breaking it is to lose these souls. ????

  18. I have a male Sphynx. I call him ET! He is the love of my life. An extension of me. People don’t believe that he talks to me. He sleeps in my bed in my arms, snuggled in my neck. When he needs to go potty, he gets in my face with a little mixture of a loving purr & a growl like noise. I open my door & he goes like lightening to his box in the bathroom, does his business, covers it, climbs out of the box takes to cleaning himself & hurries back to my arms. He adores our 5 dogs of various small breeds . My only problem is that he almost always seems congested. Is that normal? I would love to own more than one but the cost to buy one is a lot for me. I’ve owned ET since he was 12 weeks old. I have a co owner & a God mother. I don’t know how else to make sure he is ever left uncared for in my demise.

    1. Hi Janice,

      He sounds like a wonderful little guy! But the fact that he is always congested is not normal for this breed (or any breed, really). I would definitely take him into the vet to make sure it’s nothing serious. The Sphynx breed is prone to a disease called HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), and it’s best to rule it out with your vet as it can be fatal very quickly. I’m not suggesting he has it, but please get him checked out to be sure! It could also be an allergy to something that’s causing the congestion.

      Hugs to you and ET!

    2. I second what was suggested and take ET to the vet. Also if you’re not doing so already I look into feeding him/her olive oil each day. It is safe for cats to ingest and gives many health benefits including aiding in constipatiom. There are two suggested quantities though; one for daily use and the other for an occasional large dose. You would have to look it up though. I mix it in my cats food sometimes.

    3. It’s not normal to always be congested and you should take him to the vet to look into it before it might become a more serious issue and endanger his life. My philosophy is if you can hardly afford to buy a Sphynx then don’t get one because proper medical care (vet visits) are an essential part of taking a proper care of an animal. If he is in need of treatment and you ignore the signs and let him suffer, it’s animal abuse. In the way I’m glad that Sphynx cost “a lot” because it discourages unfit people from getting one. I always say that the initial price is nothing compared to the cost of food/vet/toys/etc of owning a Sphynx cat for his/her lifetime. So if let’s say $1,500 is a lot for you, then wait until you’re financially stable until buying a Sphynx!

  19. i love sphynx cats and(I’ve got two)????and share my bed ,blankets , bags towels…actually I share everything with those two and my ginger girl Peggy and fluffy black lexie. ????
    ????????????????????

  20. I LOVE the look of Sphynx cats. I just wish I could afford a couple. I don’t think they are ugly, I love their hairless look.

  21. One thing I’ve read, that this author didn’t mention, is that you have to make sure they stay warm, besides bathe regularly. Given I’m a cold a lot in the winter, I think, if I had a Sphinx, she’d be wearing a sweater too, just as the saying goes, “When Mama is cold, baby wears a sweater.”

  22. Living with ( now) 3 female Sphynxs one of which is a Bambino ( sooooo darn adorable!!) I can’t imagine having any other breed of cat! My Bazinga follows me everywhere and knows how to open the kitchen door. Her half sister Zubie is a tad more aloof but still wants to know where I am every minute. Our newest addition Miette ( AKA: Snorks because of her sinus problems from the Herpes virus as a baby) is a cuddle bug of the highest degree. Sphynxs want to know where their humans are at all times… they truly want to be with you… my three sleep with us every night and I have found I am now a cat bed. Their intelligence is amazing and they delight me everyday. I cannot imagine a life without a naked baby in it .

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  24. We have 6 Sphynx cats. We have found that they love humans and are very smart. My wife baths them every 1 to 2 weeks. We have one that is named punzy short for rapunzal. When my wife takes the clothes out of the dryer she will say punzy hot stuff and punzy comes running so she can roll and bury herself in the clothes. Franke opens all the doors in the house. The handles are the lever type.

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