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The sphynx cat has a very distinctive appearance and character which makes them a top choice when looking for a feline pet. Many people are attracted to the sphynx breed because of this unique and hairless feature.
With this rare appearance, the sphynx cat experiences many challenges and deficits due to the gene that makes them hairless. This calls for concern as many feel that it’s very cruel and unethical for breeders to select and reproduce this breed for personal gain.
I feel that it is cruel and unethical to breed Sphynx cats to a point. Taking into consideration that they lack many natural bodily features that were meant for felines, in which they face more challenges. Even though this was caused by a natural mutation, it isn’t something to benefit from.
Either way, this topic is controversial as everyone has their own opinions. Let’s look further into this to understand this breed in accordance with the Animal protection act.
In America, Sphynx cats are accepted as a breed by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. Making it legal and ethical for this breed to be regarded as a feline and be kept as pets. While the legal proceedings approved its laws regarding this breed, this doesn’t take away the lack and challenges that the sphynx breed experiences.
Other countries under European laws prohibited the breed of sphynx. According to the European Animal welfare law, you are not allowed to breed an animal knowing that the breeding will cause “pain, discomfort or damage”.
To prove this, vets have studied the anatomy and physiology of this breed and realized that the sphynx breed is in fact very deprived of many naturally occurring processes and senses. Overall it does inhibit them to a certain point which takes away from their quality of life.
Why Did People Breed Sphynx Cats?
The Canadian Sphynx cat arose from a spontaneous gene mutation which resulted in their outward appearance being hairless. This mutation led to a complete loss of function where the structure of the hair is damaged so that the hair can be formed but is easily dislodged.
Over the years the contemporary sphynx was produced through selective breeding. The purpose of selective breeding such as this was to create a genetically sound cat with a large gene pool and hybrid vigor. When properly bred by registered breeders, the Sphynx is a very robust breed with few serious health or genetic problems.
However, even with selective breeding and human involvement, some challenges and defects still exist. Now, this breed is a very popular breed for pet owners and breeders have benefitted immensely since these cats don’t come cheap.
What Defects and Challenges Do Sphynx Cats Face?
Sphynx cats have many defects which aren’t serious but it does make them more dependent. Breeders have been doing a good job creating healthy breeds with less serious issues, but this doesn’t take away the simple things that they aren’t able to naturally do.
1. Sphynx Cats Cannot Thermoregulate.
Thermoregulation is extremely important for all living organisms. Cats constantly regulate their body temperature to make sure their core temperature never changes. They are very sensitive to temperature changes as such stimulus stimulates the body to either shiver or sweat.
With the sphynx breed, they are able to keep cool in hot weather but aren’t able to keep warm in cold weather. This means that they are at risk of hypothermia. They cannot keep themselves warm due to the lack of fur which serves as insulation.
2. Periodontal Disease.
Sphynx cats are prone to dental issues and need regular dental checkups to maintain healthy teeth and gums. It’s not clear whether the mutation is also a cause for their challenges in regard to their teeth, but they are at higher risk of periodontal disease.
This will require an oral hygiene routine, to prevent tartar buildup and infections from occurring. This just adds to the daily maintenance that this breed requires.
3. Lack Of whiskers and Other Important Hair.
Whiskers and other hair are connected to sensory nerves. This allows The cat to gather information about its environment through touch, an important tool in understanding the world.
They are important for communication with other cats! Although the sense of touch is mainly through the skin, as you may know, whiskers, being long as they usually are, protect a cat’s eyes and mouth.
The lack of such hair in the sphynx breed will result in the cat being disorientated and will have difficulties navigating its way around. They will also lack the ability to sense danger and monitor their surroundings.
4. Cannot Be exposed to Sun and Rain.
Due to their nakedness, they cannot be exposed to the sun. This puts them at risk for sunburns, irritation, and inflammation. Likewise, they cannot be exposed to rain and snow as well as certain climates that are harsh.
They also require a specific room temperature to remain comfortable since they have trouble regulating their core body temperature.
5. High Maintenance.
They are overall high-maintenance cats and they need help making themselves clean. Normal cats know how to groom themselves and do a pretty good job, sphynx cats need regular baths to clean themselves since their own grooming isn’t enough.
They also build up wax on their body, ears, and paws which also needs to be cleaned regularly. These cats are also prone to certain serious health issues and will need to go for checkups regularly.
How Does This Affect Their Daily Life?
These defects which we’ve mentioned earlier play a vital role in the standard of living for the sphynx breed. While these defects aren’t serious and life-threatening, it does contribute to their inabilities.
They are restricted in the following ways.
1. They need a controlled room temperature to remain comfortable. This restricts their whereabouts in terms of travel and going outdoors.
2. They need to acclimate to the cleaning routine which must be done once or twice a week. This should involve bathing, brushing teeth, ear and paw cleaning, and moisturizing. This process is very stressful for them.
3. They need clothing to regulate themselves in winter. This can be uncomfortable since cats weren’t supposed to wear clothing.
4. Lack of whiskers thus they can have problems navigating and responding to the environment.
5. Cats in general take pride in grooming themselves, but sphynx are unable to effectively do so. They need help and this takes away a bit of their independence.
I have nothing against the Sphynx breed, in fact, they are quite a phenomenal breed. That said, I do feel that breeders should stop and focus on the quality and interests of the animals they are producing instead of the money they can make.
Regardless of the breed be it sphynx or Persians, it will be better for breeders to restore specific breeds back to their original form so they don’t require delicate care and are more independent.