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The unique appearance of the Sphynx cat pulls a chord or causes strange fascination among its admirers, and there is no shortage of fan pages on the Internet. These very images prompt an intriguing question as sphynxes appear in all types of outfits, from the most mundane to the most extravagant – do they need to wear these clothes?
So, should Sphynx cats wear clothes? No, Sphynx cats do not need to wear clothes. Sphynx cats have an average body temperature between 99.5 and 102.5 F (37.5 and 39.1 C) – higher than furry cats. During warmer months or when living in tropical climates, they can be comfortable without clothing. When the season changes to winter, you can use sweaters and other clothing to help keep your cat warm.
Although Sphynx cats do not need to wear clothes, it is not uncommon to find a Sphynx gravitating towards sunny windows, blankets, heating vents or even the warm body of their owner. Whether that translates into a need to break out the tiny sweaters and hoodies is entirely up to the sphynx and its personality.
Sphynx cats and their need for warmth
Sphynx cats are unique in many ways, their hairless appearance topping the list. The lack of an insulating layer of fur presents a challenge, especially when it comes to warmth. Although the Sphynx is one of the most vocal cat breeds, it still can’t tell us to turn up the thermostat, so here are some other clues to watch out for:
The best metric to use is human preference: if someone is cold and finds themselves reaching for a sweater or blanket, then the sphynx is also cold. This high body temperature means they must be warm to the touch at all times, so a cool body is a big red flag. The paws and ear tips will be the first to lose that crucial body heat.
If there are hardwood floors or tiles in the house that the sphynx refuses to walk on, chances are it is too cold. The toes are exposed and sensitive, and refusal to walk on cold surfaces is a sign that the cat is feeling uncomfortable.
Sphynx cats bond closely with their chosen owners, and they like to be in the middle of everything, but if they seem unusually attached (i.e. they literally won’t leave someone’s lap) , they could try to evacuate the heat of this body.
This breed of cat should be constantly active throughout the year, so a suddenly lazy sphynx is a concern. They may be trying to conserve energy to stay warm. A shivering sphynx is a serious sign – it means extreme cold and possibly hypothermia. They need an immediate warm up and may need to see the vet for more urgent care.
Keeping a Sphynx Warm in the Winter
Keeping a sphynx warm in winter or even summer when the air conditioning is on is relatively simple. Blankets made of fleece or other soft fabrics that won’t irritate the cat’s sensitive skin can be left in their favorite spots in the sun or near heating vents. Heating pads are not recommended as they can burn the cat’s skin. Self-heating cat beds are a much safer alternative.
Cat igloos or covered beds create small pockets of warmth for a sphynx to snuggle into, with extra blankets added, if necessary.
Sphynx cat clothes are a booming market and a simple search on the internet. However, it is essential to take into consideration the personality and tolerance of a particular sphynx. Not all sphynxes accept clothes. They may become rigid, fall and stay still, or even scratch and bite when trying to bandage them. If the cat is tolerant of clothing, be sure to choose breathable fabrics that provide some stretch to allow them to move naturally.
Also, regular changes of clothes are essential – cats like clean clothes too. With all clothing and blankets, regular washing is important as oils from the cat’s skin build up on the fabric and cause odor. A hypoallergenic laundry detergent (free of dyes and fragrances) is best to prevent any skin reactions.
Summer weather can be a concern for Sphynx cats
Sphynxes are attracted to heat, but sunbathing can be as much of a problem as cold weather. Their hairless skin is prone not only to sunburn, but also to skin cancer. Care should therefore be taken during the summer months.
• For cats who have preferred to bask in places that are harmful to the sun, apply a UV film to the windows to limit the radiation passing through the window.
• If the sphynx ventures outside, there are veterinarian-safe sunscreens available.
• For sphynxes who are tolerant of clothing, they make sun protection clothing with long sleeves.
Give your Sphynx a bath
A lack of fur means Sphynx cats have no way to absorb the oils they secrete. Instead, oils build up on the skin, attracting dust and clogging pores; left alone, it leads to infection. Most Sphynxes are acclimated to baths by the breeder when they are tiny kittens, and they come to enjoy the process – a good thing since they need a bath at least weekly! Without regular bathing, hawkmoths leave reddish-brown marks on bedding, furniture, clothing, and their owners.
Baths should be lukewarm – not hot – with the tap turned off. Use a mild shampoo recommended by a veterinarian (no human shampoo, not even baby shampoo), and soap the sphynx thoroughly, being careful between all the toes. Then rinse off all the soap to leave no residue. Dry the sphynx thoroughly to avoid any risk of chilling, especially if it is cold outside.
Keeping a Sphynx Cat Clean
The Sphynx’s oily skin presents additional challenges, especially if its pores become clogged. Believe it or not, they can develop blackheads, mostly on the chin – yes, they have cat acne!
The skin needs to be scrubbed gently with warm water and a vet-approved antibacterial soap. The affected area can then be dabbed with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel, followed by rinsing with cold water (licking the witch hazel will make them sick). This routine fits well with the weekly bath.
This lack of fur makes it easy for dirt and debris to collect in the sphynx’s ears, and these cats produce copious amounts of dark brown earwax, to boot. If left alone, the ear canals can become blocked and an infection can develop, not to mention wax and dirt smeared on furniture and clothing.
Regular cleaning with cotton balls and a cleanser prescribed by a veterinarian – ideally when the sphynx is bathing – will prevent this wax and grime from becoming a problem.
Most cat owners have their cats’ nails trimmed regularly. for sphynx cats, nail trimming is particularly crucial. There is no hair to protect their delicate skin, and scratching with fingernails that have gone through the litter leads to infection. Even clean nails damage skin, so regular nail trims should fit into an owner’s grooming schedule.
Immediately after bathing, nails are softest and easiest to cut. Applying soft nail caps is another option owners can consider to protect their synx.
The sphynx cat has a unique appearance and presents unique challenges in its care. Their hairless condition presents a need for warmth, regular grooming, and protection from direct sunlight. Not all cats tolerate being tucked into clothes, whether they are cold or not. Responding to the Sphynx’s need for warmth – and recognizing the signs of “I’m cold” – is an absolutely valid concern for these unusual cats. Loyal sphynx fans promise that all the extra concerns make it worth snuggling up to these affectionate cats — with or without the clothes.