Pet Of The Week: The Sphynx

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Looks like he comes from another planet

Hey, that's not a very nice way to start. He is a cat, and therefore beloved of the Egyptian goddess Bast, who was the daughter of Ra, the Sun God, who we've all heard of. Cats have always been able to project an ethereal air of importance while slumming it among us mere humans, as if they have somewhere more pressing to be, something more important to do. They also have an enviable way of making you feel inadequate – or maybe that's just me.

The Sphynx – a noble beast, his genes forged in the cauldron of ancient Egypt, a breed honed through years of ancestral nobility...

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Sphynx is a cross-breed first developed in Canada in the 1960s, but with little success. The breed became more successful in 1978, when a natural mutation occurred, leaving a litter of tiny hairless kittens. And the cat world was smitten with them. Just ask Pam Williams, the secretary of the UK's Sphynx Cat Association, who is completely enamoured by these naked wonders: "They are so much more than an 'ordinary' cat – to be honest, owning one is more like having a small child or a monkey!"

What makes him so special?

The Sphynx has a relatively large, wedge-shaped head framed by absurdly outsized, pointy ears. And yes, admittedly, he is quite alien in appearance. His skin is not entirely bereft of hair – stroking it is said to be like running your hand over a pool table. As he has so little hair, he will rely on external sources for warmth, such as humans, which makes the breed more affectionate towards us than other cats, bless 'em. Pam says that they have voracious appetites on account of their need to regulate their body temperature, as they lose a lot of heat. Best not leave him out at night, then.

Anything else we should know?

How can I put this delicately: since the natural oils held within a "normal" cat's hair that are there to keep the skin in good condition are lacking in the Sphynx, a regular bath is recommended. Most moggies are perfectly happy to strike out from home and hearth as the daylight fades, tummy full of Kit-e-Kat, and go annoying birds or other cats or whatever they do. Not so the Sphynx, who likes nothing more than to cosy up with his owners in front of the television. He is intelligent, inquisitive and loving – and surely that is the holy trinity for any pet lover.

Who would own one?

Doctor Evil had one, but don't let that put you off.

Where can I get a Sphynx?

As with all pets, it is best to get in touch with the people who really know what they are talking about, such as Pam Williams. Contact the Sphynx Cat Association at: It's a good place to start, as they can put you in touch with registered, reputable breeders. Under no circumstances, however, do we suggest that you shave your existing cat to "get the look".