There was a breed of Mexican hairless cats that is now extinct. However, in the past fifty years, new breeds of hairless cats have appeared, some natural, some man-made. They make unique and sweet natured pets.
In this article, we’ll first discuss the history of hairless cat breeds before discussing their price.
History of the Hairless Breeds
Hairless cats are distinct. Sphynx cats are the commonest and probably the earliest breed. In 1966, a hairless kitten, named Prune, was born to a domestic shorthair in Toronto, Canada. Prune was backcrossed with his mother and bred with a few other naked cats found later to develop the Sphynx breed, also called the Canadian Hairless. Two naked female cats born to stray barn cats in Minnesota in the 1970s, named Dermis and Epidermis, were sold to a breeder in Oregon and added to the Sphynx breeding program.
The hairlessness gene was autosomal recessive. The Sphynx recessive gene was eventually isolated in the keratin 71 gene. The mutation causes the hair follicles to collapse, preventing the development of the hair shaft.
The gene pool remained quite limited until one of the breeders, Shirley Smith, found three hairless kittens in her neighborhood and used them to cross with a European breed called Devon Rex. The first mating resulted in two hairless males named Q Ramses and Q Ra.
Different mutations in keratin genes arose in Russia. In 1987, a cat breeder named Elena Kovaleva found a hairless cat in the city of Rostov-on-Don. The cat had hair as a kitten but lost it at about four months. This hairless was bred with a local cat. The kittens from this mating were crossbred with European Shorthairs, producing a new breed called Donskoy or Don-Sphynx. The Donskoy mutation is dominant.
In 1994, a Russian breeder named Olga S. Mironova crossed a male Donskoy with a female Oriental Shorthair to produce four hairless kittens. All three hairless breeds have been accepted for competition by the world’s largest cat registry, the American Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is now the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
Other Breeds of Hairless Cats
Besides the three original breeds of Sphynx, Peterbald, and Donskoy, there are five other hairless breeds now.
- Bambino – This cross is between Sphynx and Munchkin cats. The Munchkin is a new breed, spawned by another genetic mutation which causes very short legs. Bambinos are both hairless and short legged. They are noted to be very affectionate lap cats.
- Dwelf – Dwelfs are the result of selective breeding of three lines of cats: Sphynx, Munchkin, and American Curl. They get hairlessness from the Sphynx, short legs from the Munchkin, and a distinctive curling to the ears from the American Curl. Friendly and smart, they are very attached to people, following their person around like a dog.
- Ukrainian Levkoy – Cross is with a breed called Scottish Fold, distinguished by an inward folding ear. Donskoy females produced hairless kittens with the ear fold. These are rather relaxed cats, although fond of people.
- Minskin – Breeding Sphynx and Munchkins has resulted in a short-legged cat with patches of short, downy fur. Not entirely hairless, the fur is sparsely situated on the face, ears, and extremities. They have been compared to the fictional character, E.T.
- Lykoi – The Lykoi are not the result of a breeding program nor are they a truly hairless breed. They resulted from a spontaneous mutation in domestic shorthair cats. Resembling werewolves, their hair is sparse with a black, leathery skin and webbed feet. Energetic, friendly, and affectionate, they are exceptionally intelligent.
Personality Traits of Hairless Cats
All hairless cats tend to be affectionate, curious, and smart, although some more so than others. Here are some similarities and differences in personality traits of the hairless breeds.
- Sphynx – Very intelligent and playful, the Sphynx also needs a lot of attention. This cat will follow you around like a dog. Play all day and cuddle all night – that’s this sweetheart. Good with children and other pets.
- Peterbald – These cats love to give you their opinions on everything. They are very vocal, very affectionate, and playful. They also are very friendly, bonding well with other pets, especially dogs. They greet new people happily. Don’t expect a guard cat. They’ll probably welcome a burglar as sweetly as they do your sister. A Peterbald will be your friend for life.
- Dwelf – Dwelf is a combination of “dwarf” and “elf”, named by the breed’s originator. This ‘designer’ breed is quite new. It’s only been in existence since 2008. Like most hairless cats, the Dwelf is affectionate and friendly to everyone. They do not want to be left alone. You really need to have more than one pet to keep a Dwelf happy. They are very dependent and will ‘help’ you with all your chores, but they do not like changes. Introduce new pets gradually.
- Bambino – Just as affectionate and playful as other hairless breeds, the Bambino handles change like a pro. If you move frequently, your Bambino will help you explore your new home happily or go on vacation with you. They are not as vocal as some hairless breeds, but they will express their opinions often.
- Donskoy – These cats have a curiosity streak. They will be fascinated by open cupboards, closets, anywhere they’re not supposed to be. They love people and are very good with children as long as the children are good with them. They also love other pets. Somewhat more independent than other hairless breeds, these cats are known to be mischief makers.
- Ukrainian Levkoy – One of the rarest breeds of cat, the Ukrainian Levkoy is exceptionally calm as well as friendly, affectionate, and dog-like in its loyalty. Curious and playful, this cat will get into trouble if left alone. It needs companions, bonding well with other pets, as well as family members.
- Minskin – These little guys are just as playful, loving, and friendly as other hairless breeds. They need companionship with people or other pets to be happy. Energetic, they need a lot of play time, but they reward your attention with lots of cuddling and love.
- Lykoi – Exceptionally intelligent, these cats love their toys, especially if there’s problem-solving involved. You can actually play fetch with this cat. Once the day is done, the Lykoi loves to cuddle with his person. The Lykoi is sociable, but needs to be introduced to children and other pets as early as possible. Early socialization will pave the way for a happy household for your pet werewolf.
Things You Need to Know About Hairless Cats
The hairless cats all are high maintenance. While they may have little or no hair, their skin produces oils just as furred cats do. But the hair that would wick away the oils isn’t there, so it’s up to you to care for that skin.
- They will need weekly baths in warm water with a hypoallergenic cat shampoo. They must be thoroughly rinsed and dried. They will lose heat quickly.
- There is no hair in their ears either. The ear hair is part of the system that removes dirt and ear wax normally. After the weekly bath, ear cleaning should be done. There are tutorials on the internet that will instruct you on procedure.
- Nails should be kept clipped. Without the hair to protect the skin, long nails can inflict accidental injuries on themselves.
- Hairless breeds need to be indoor cats almost exclusively. They will be very sensitive to the sun’s rays.
- If they lack eyelashes, their eyes must be wiped gently every day to remove dirt particles that the lashes would ordinarily remove.
- Finally the hair on most cats not only keeps them warm, it also regulates their temperatures during the summer. Special attention has to be given to keeping them both warm and cool.
How Much Does a Hairless Cat Cost?
These felines are rare and difficult to raise. There are usually only four kittens in a litter as opposed to domestic shorthairs with an average of six kittens per litter. And they require a lot more care than the ordinary cat.
The price for one of these regal cats, therefore, depends on the breed, the rarity, the pedigree, and the quality of the cat in question. A Sphynx is a lot more common than a Minskin, but a show-quality Sphynx may cost a lot more than a pet quality Minskin. In addition, hairless breeds tend to have some hereditary diseases, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, polycystic kidney disease, progressive retinal atrophy, or congenital myasthenic syndrome. The breeder has to check for these diseases in the kittens, tests which are expensive.
Some of the pricing is the same way any purebred animal is priced. If the parents of the kitten have produced some champion cats, the kitten will cost more, because of the potential for earning money in the show ring.
- Sphynx $1800-$3000
- Peterbald $1700-$3000
- Donskoy $500 -$2500
- Unkrainian Levkoy $400 -$800
- Bambino $1800-$3000
- Minskin $1500-$5000
- Dwelf $2000-$3000
- Lykoi $1500-$2500
How much money the cat costs is not as important as the reason for buying it. If you want a curious, smart, playful cat who will love you even more than you love her, these unique felines fit the bill. You will have a friend for the rest of her life.
Buying a Sphynx Kitten (Video)
"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett