History of the bald Sphynx breed

You can read different stories about the origin of the Sphynx cats, but all these versions have something in common: this breed is Canadian.

Some people compare these hairless cats with others that had been showed in a painting by the 1930s in Mexico, but that by detailing the painting, it can be noted that they are not related to the current breed of Sphynx cats.

Here, you must consider that many years have passed since the beginning until now, so, among several mixtures, some of their characteristics may have changed.

There are those who think that Sphynx cat is originally from ancient Egypt, due to its similarity to the cats used by the pharaohs, giving way to the creation of two of his nicknames: sphynx cat and Egyptian cat.

Some people think that these hairless cats are the result of a genetic mutation performed in a laboratory, but this could not be further from reality.

Hairless cats -also known as Sphynx- appeared in pre-Columbian America, in Ontario Canada, where it was discovered that an ordinary cat had a black bald cat.
It was in 1966 that this discovery was made, and that hairless cat was called Prune. After being an adult, he was crossed with his mother and they were born with both hair and other hairless kittens.

However -and here there are several stories’ versions- the offspring of both died shortly thereafter due to health problems. Other versions say that their kittens were dispersed throughout Europe and the United States.

The true start of this breed was in 1960?

The truth is that since the 1900s have been documented appearances of hairless cats, however, it is not until 1966 that begin with the program for the breeding of this breed.

Some even claim that the hairless cats of the years before 1966 are not really part of this breed, either by physical variants or because there is no very true evidence.

What you have to consider is that history sometimes has many holes and events that can be commented in different ways, so the date that is considered as “origin” of hairless cats, is the one of 1966.

70s, expansion of Sphynx cats

During the 70s and 80s, other hairless cats are found in other countries such as Germany, Netherlands and the United States. Generally these cats were born of ordinary cats with hair.

It turned out that this absence of hair came from a natural genetic mutation of a recessive nature, which gave them this characteristic and unique appearance.

Already in 1975, in the United States, a cat breeder found one of these sphynx cats in the street -the son of a common cat- and called it Epidermis.

In 1978, an Egyptian cat breeder in Ontario found three hairless cats in one of the streets of her colony, and in 1983 she sent two of those cats to Dr. Hugo Hernández to be included in the breeding program of this breed.

One of them -called Bambi- lived until he was 19 years old.

Egyptian cats in the 80s

By this time, the North American and European breeders continued with their program for the breeding and revitalization of the sphynx race, for which Dr. Hugo Hernández -of the Netherlands- is considered an important pillar in the conservation of the breed, since he introduced the cat Devon Rex to the phenotype of the Sphynx cat to give them strength and vigor.

This species crossing proved to be a success, because currently the Sphynx cats that are suitably bred are strong and healthy cats despite its recessive mutation.

Some research confirms that this breed reappears every 15 years naturally, if there is any reason for this, it is unknown.

Other hairless cats

Some people may think that any hairless cat is a sphynx but it is not like that.
In 1950 three kittens of a Siamese cat litter were born without hair, but when crossing the parents with other Siamese cats they produced no more hairless cats.

That is why Sphynx cats have special physical characteristics that each breeder and owner must know, since not all hairless cats are part of the sphynx caste.

Sphynx cat is known first for not having hair, but also for its triangular head and large eye-catching eyes without eyelashes or eyebrows, as well as the raised and long ears and their varied colors.

Acceptance of the Sphynx race

A breeder by the name of Ryadh Bawa obtained suitable parents to breed Sphynx cats and -with help from other breeders- started a breeding program.

Initially, the CFA gave Sphynx cats the status of color and new breed, but in 1971 the CFA deprived them of the privilege due to the fertility problems they had.

Because of this, the blood line was not continued, so that litter is not part of the current blood line.

The predecessors of the current line come from 1975, when Milt and Ethelyn Pearson -from the Minnesota farm- discovered a cat that had been born hairless in the litter of ordinary cats with hair.

A year later, another hairless cat was born, and both were sold to an Oregon breeder, who used them to procreate the breed.

Subsequently, Georgiana Gattenby, a Minnesota breeder, worked in the same way with the cats of the Pearson line, and added a Cornish Rex to the blood line, which helped to consolidate the breed; before this, a lot of kittens died in the first months of life.

Currently the sphynx breed is recognized by the main feline associations such as TICA (The international Cat Association), WCF (World Cat Federation), FIFe (Fédération Internationale Féline) and CFA (The Cat Fanciers Association).

The Sphynx breed has had many obstacles to be able to preserve itself, however it has been able to prevail with the help of the breeders that even today continue to make this beautiful breed remain.

In recent years the number of breeders passionate about this breed has increased considerably, and there are more and more specimens of Sphynx cats.