The Ultimate List of Hairless Cat Breeds
Cats – we usually think of them as loveable soft fluffy bundles that overwhelm us with their cuddliness and their cuteness.
But a strange new type of cat is rapidly becoming very popular around the world: hairless cats. Hairless cats have a very fine velvety-smooth layer of peach-like fuzz instead of the typical cat hair coat.
The extraordinary, out-of this-world appearance of hairless cats is proof of the adage, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ but many people find the elf-like or alien look highly attractive. And their eye-catching appearance is matched by a heart-warming friendliness and playful personality.
Hairless cats love people and are highly affectionate with everyone. Hairless cats love to cuddle and will use any excuse to find a way to curl up comfortably on your stomach or to get into bed with you.
They are also highly intelligent, inquisitive, and very playful.
Maybe you’re sick and tired off cat hairs everywhere or perhaps you want a cat that will love being at your side every moment of the day.
…whatever your reasons, a hairless cat is bound to attract attention.
Are These Officially Recognised Breeds?
Yes. There are a number of different hairless cat breeds approved by international cat breeding associations such as TICA (The International Cat Association) and the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
These associations have established specific identifying characteristics for each breed to ensure the purity and long-term health of the breeds.
The hairless cat breeds include:
- Ukrainian Levkoy
Are They Truly Hairless?
In actual fact, none of the cats are completely hairless as they retain some fine down that gives them a smooth velvet-like feel. Some hairless cats will be born with a certain amount of cat hair but then gradually (in the first couple of years) go bald.
Some hairless cats may retain hairy areas such as tufts of hair on their tail just like a lion’s tail or hair between the toes.
The lack of hair is the result of breeding for a particular recessive gene. Because hairless cats don’t shed hairs you no longer have to worry about trying to remove cat hairs from your carpets, furniture or clothes.
Unfortunately, their lack of hair doesn’t necessarily make them less hypoallergenic, as it is not cat hair that causes allergies but rather certain proteins found in the cats’ dead skin cells and saliva.
However, some people with cat allergies may be much less sensitive to hairless cats, in part because the frequent bathing required for hairless cats removes some of the offending allergens.
The Sphynx is probably the most well-known and popular hairless cat.
Sphynx cats are renowned for being incredibly friendly, inquisitive, and playful. They love attention and will greet visitors like old friends.
They can be a little clumsy as they go overboard in their playfulness but their exuberant efforts to gain your attention are irresistible.
Some people think their wrinkled appearance and rounded belly makes Sphynx cats look like a venerable and wise Buddha.
The Sphynx was accidentally discovered when a domestic cat in Toronto gave birth to the first Sphynx in 1966.
An intensive breeding programme established a stronger genetic pool and bloodlines and the Sphynx was officially recognised by TICA more than 20 years ago.
Sphynx cats are characterised by
- Wide range of colours and colour patterns
- Large lemon shaped eyes
- Long ears—as long as 4-6cms
- Extremely wrinkled skin
- Long hand-like paws that are extremely dextrous
- Easy to handle
The modern Sphynx is generally a very strong healthy cat and gets on well with other household cats and dogs. Sphynx cats are deeply loyal and dedicated to their owners too.
The Elf cat is a newer breed of hairless cat and is the result of a deliberate cross between the Sphynx and the American Curl.
The Elf gets its name from one of its most distinctive traits: the cute curled ears that come from the American Curl gene. And with its startling round eyes the Elf will leave you with the impression that you are looking at a creature straight out of an ancient legend.
Another particularly notable Elf feature is the extensive wrinkled appearance especially around the neck and head. This is most noticeable in kittens but should also be present in well-bred adults.
The Elf is an extremely patient and friendly cat with loads of personality. It loves to be around its human family and will provide hours of pleasure with its lively and intelligent explorations of the surroundings. They are very playful and love to climb.
The Elf features:
- Strong agile body weighing up to 7kg
- Large ears with distinctive curled tips—the ear interior is usually completely hairless
- Walnut-shaped large eyes
- Slender tail in good proportion to the rest of the body, tapering to a fine point
- Can be quite vocal
- Head is slightly longer than it is wide
As with most hairless cats the Elf craves attention. Elf cats will become very unhappy if left on their own for too long so it’s important to have other cats or dogs around if you can’t be there to give them the love they need.
Dedicated Elf breeders are making extensive efforts to ensure that outbreeding with cats from solid stock such as the Sphynx, American Curl, and Highlander brings about a healthy Elf gene pool.
The Elf is one of the newest breeds available and acceptance as a separate breed by TICA is almost certainly going to happen in the near future. Currently, an Elf may be shown under the category of Sphynx with special traits.
The Peterbald first appeared in Russia in 1988. The well-bred Peterbald is very strong and healthy with a lively agility.
The Peterbald will never tire of showering you with affection and its friendly highly sociable personality will ensure that it’s a firm favourite with all the family and visitors as well.
- Beautiful large round eyes
- Fine slender neck
- Large extremely elegant ears
- Highly vocal—will frequently talk to you
The Peterbald is an exquisitely beautiful cat and is recognised by TICA as a separate breed.
The Donskoy is another Russian cat that appeared in the 1980’s.
The Donskoy is much loved for its extremely friendly, sociable, and easy to handle nature. It loves everyone who comes to the house and is great with children and other companion animals such as dogs and is extremely loyal.
The Donskoy is highly wrinkled in appearance but large eyes and ears and sleek body structure give it a really elegant look.
Features of Donskoy hairless cats:
- Medium-sized cat
- Stunning eyes that appear to drill right through you
- Large elegant ears
- Oval feet with long webbed toes
Unlike other hairless cats, the Donskoy may grow a winter coat before shedding it when warmer weather arrives.
The Ukrainian Levkoy is a recent arrival on the hairless cat scene and is not yet recognised by TICA or the CFA. Its combination of strength, friendliness without being too overbearing, and cute folding ears means it’s quickly gaining new fans.
The Ukrainian Levkoy is the result of a cross between the Sphynx and the Scottish Fold and the combination of stunning almond shaped eyes and folding ears will be irresistible to anyone who loves the exotic and the cute.
- Large almond-shaped eyes set at an angle
- Floppy ears that fold over but don’t touch the head
- Wedge shaped head with a slightly dog-like appearance
- Slender, muscular body
Ukrainian Levkoys can feature any colour.
The hairless qualities of the Sphynx combined with the short legs of the Munchkin cat breed gives the Bambino it’s very distinctive appearance.
Like all hairless cats the Bambino is actually covered by a fine peach fuzz and they have a gorgeously warm and loving personality.
Bambinos are very agile and active, despite their short legs, and love to play.
Characteristic features of Bambinos:
- Wrinkled hairless appearance
- Short legs
- Some may have a hairy tail, like a lion’s tail
- Large eyes that look like Gollum’s (Lord of the Rings)
Bambinos are currently recognised by TICA as an experimental breed
Do Hairless Cats Have Special Needs?
Normally, cat hair provides protection against cold temperatures and sun burn so some special attention is required to look after your hairless cats.
Hairless cats are best to be kept inside or in a cat enclosure as they are essentially indoors cats because they lack the ability to easily regulate their body temperature.
This means they can get cold very easily. Likewise, sunburn is a very real risk if they are exposed to too much sunlight. Many people love to dress up their hairless cats and purpose made jackets will help protect them from the elements.
Hairless cats require regular bathing (weekly or monthly). This is because the lack of body hair encourages a build-up of oils that can trigger skin conditions. The oils may also stain clothes and fabrics.
The absence of hairs in their ears can also cause problems with infections so regular ear cleaning with some cotton wool soaked in cider vinegar is an important preventative action.
Hairless cats are extremely active and tend to have high rates of metabolism so it is important to provide plenty of high quality nutrition for their energy needs.
Hairless cats need companionship and you need to return that affection or have other companion animals that will provide company for them. They will pine if left unattended for too long.
Although there is a risk of heart disease in hairless cats, if you buy from a reputable breeder and look after your cat there’s no reason why they won’t live a long healthy life.
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