Moon cats on earth (part 1)
Almost everyone who has dealt with the sphinxes claim that this is the most loving breed of all that has ever been created on Earth. The special character is one of the equally typical features of the sphinx, as well as its naked hot body and unusual appearance. It seems that together with the hair, the sphinx has lost a significant part of feline behavior. I have a wonderful attitude to all representatives of the cat world, I like many breeds, beautiful and amazing in their own way, but I would just like to emphasize that the sphynx is no longer a cat! Obviously, something happens to the psyche of the animal under the influence of a mutation that cardinally changes its appearance. Ask the owners of hairless dogs – Mexican, Peruvian or Chinese Crested – about this, they all will unanimously say that their pets are no longer quite dogs: they are very affectionate and completely devoid of aggressiveness! However, they were considered not just dogs, but special human helpers with magical properties. Now there are three breeds of hairless sphynx cats: the Canadian sphinx and two – bred in Russia – the Don Sphynx (bald man) and Peterbald. True, so far only Canadian sphinxes have received worldwide recognition from the felinologists, which will be discussed later.
Mention of hairless cats can be found in antiquity. Nowadays, such messages have periodically appeared in print for over 100 years. It is believed that the Aztecs still had naked cats, which seems quite likely, because they had naked dogs!
As for cats, the last representatives of an ancient breed called Mexican hairless were shown at cat shows in the USA at the beginning of our century. Until the beginning of the 30s, the only couple survived, unfortunately, did not leave offspring. According to the description, Mexican cats differed from modern sphinxes: they had an elongated body, a long tail, a wedge-shaped head with large ears, amber eyes and long mustaches, which the sphinxes are almost completely devoid of. In winter, short hair grew on the back and tail, which disappeared by the summer. The genetics of that mutation remained unknown: whether the trait of hairlessness was transmitted by a recessive or dominant type. In the latter case, it is possible that the Mexican and our domestic (Don bald) hairless cats were genetic twins. In any case, they both have a mustache when they are hairless, both breeds tend to dress in a fur coat by winter.
Some cases of the appearance of hairless kittens in litters of ordinary cats were observed around the world. However, until recently, in no case have any attempts been made to create a new breed. The appearance of the breed of hairless cats is associated with 1966, when in Ontario, Canada, among the kittens of a normal domestic cat, a hairless kitten was discovered, which was called Prun. After the set time, Prun was crossed with his mother and normal and hairless kittens appeared in the litter. As long as this was possible, Prun was brought together with his daughters and granddaughters in order to preserve as many of the original genes as possible. The result is two varieties of sphinxes, slightly different in appearance. Soon, however, in the United States and Canada ceased to breed sphinxes. In 1971, the CFA revoked the temporary status of the breed, given to her before that. What was the matter? Sphynx breeding failed for several reasons at once.
Firstly, the breed was extremely small and there was no hope of stabilizing it using the animal felinologists at their disposal. In addition, the scouts did not understand the genetics of the sphinxes. It was mistakenly believed that the sign of hairlessness is related to gender. Secondly, sphinx kittens were more demanding to care than their usual counterparts, and often died. And, thirdly, the breed breeding strategy in the first nurseries was unsuccessful.
On this, the history of the Sphinxes could have ended, if not for new finds. In 1975, in Waden, Minnesota, a bald cat was born from a simple shorthair cat, not without humor, called Epidermis. A year later, a cat was born there. Both animals ended up in the Z. Stardust cattery in Oregon, where the epidermis became the founder of the breed’s most elite lines to date. In the late 70s, on the streets of Toronto, near the location of the first sphinxes, three new kittens were found: a black and white cat named Bambi, and two cats. Unfortunately, Bambi’s condition, when found, was terrible: one eye was pierced and leaked, an urgent surgical operation was also required to remove his badly damaged testicles. So Bambi did not have to become the ancestor of the breed, although his beautiful type deserved it. But Bambi became famous in something else: today he is the champion in longevity among the sphinxes, lived a long and happy life and ended it after his 19th (!) Birthday. Two other cats, called Pinky and Paloma, were sent to Holland, where they became the founders of the European breed line.
New natural mutations of hairlessness are occasionally found now on the American continent. Such animals are very appreciated and try to maximize their potential for breeding. “New bald” usually become the pride of nurseries.
The Canadian Sphynx is not just a naked cat. Of course, the lack of wool is the very first distinguishing feature, but not the only one. Morphology, head, eyes and even character must meet a number of very strict criteria defined by the breed standard. The appearance of a good sphinx is literally magical. And it’s not just hairlessness or big ears. In the sphinx there is a special harmony inherent only to him, any deviation from which turns him simply into a pretty cat without fur. The Canadian Sphinx has amazing softness. In his figure there is not a single straight line, they are all rounded, all forms are convex and, at the same time, flowing, smooth. In this way, it resembles a Chinese figurine (perhaps, therefore, the second, lesser-known name of the Canadian sphinx is “moon cat”). Even the front legs of the sphinx are slightly curved in the manner of “bulldogs”, and the tail is very flexible and always smoothly curved or pressed to the side with a dense “donut”. The ears are large and wide, and their ends are necessarily rounded. Another characteristic of the Canadian Sphinxes is the thick skin that forms folds. Kittens are up to one month old entirely in a fold, including tail and legs. With age, wrinkles are smoothed out, and in adult animals they remain on the head, neck, a little on the stomach and trunk, which gives them the characteristic appearance of “old men”. The more folds the adult sphinx retains, the better, and the lack of folds is considered a vice. The body of cats of this breed is dense and muscular. They should not be “lean”, on the contrary, the stomach in shape resembles a pear, giving the impression that the cat ate well. The hind limbs are longer than the front, which is why the sphinx has a very peculiar gait. The skin feels like suede to the touch – because of the very short gun covering it. The hair is retained in all sphinxes on the nose, on the back of the ears, a small amount is allowed at the ends of the paws and tail. In addition, wool in these places may appear due to improper feeding, at a low temperature, or during hormonal changes during the ripening period. The colors of the Canadian sphinxes are clearly distinguishable due to the strong pigmentation of the skin. The most common of them are piebald (bi- and tricolor colors, i.e. various versions of the main color with white) and white (with this color, the sphinxes look pink). Solid colors and various variants of tortoiseshell are somewhat less common. Very beautiful, as well as rare colors, united in a group of “minks”: Such animals, with a slight lightening of the main color, have beautiful light blue eyes, although not as bright as those of the familiar Siamese or blue-eyed white animals.
It has already been said that the character of the sphinxes is not at all feline. It seems that they do not consider themselves cats: they are good-natured, peaceful, affectionate to humans, often prefer someone from the family, are not afraid of dogs and other animals, as if they had almost no cat instincts, are easily trained. They perceive us as their brothers and relate to the person “on equal terms,” “humanly”. It is always very pleasant to communicate with the sphinx, it is possible that due to the lack of hair, a feeling of contact is no longer with the animal, but with the creature standing a step closer to the person – and, how to know, is it only outwardly?
Sphynx has the same lifespan as other cats. It is interesting that many of the first sphinxes were long-livers: Paloma and Epidermis lived to 16.5, the aforementioned Bambi lived to 19, but a record holder for longevity, not only among sphinxes, but also for all cats, according to Cat Fancy Magazine ( March 1997) became the cat Granpa Rexs Allen, a hybrid of the sphinx with Devonrex. This venerable cat lived for about 30 years, 12 of which were devoted to an exhibition career.
Those interested in the genetics of hairless animals obviously know that the mutation that causes hairlessness in Canadian sphinxes is recessive: in the heterozygous state, in combination with the “normal” gene present in all cats with hair, the sphynx hairless gene does not appear phenotypically (i.e. first generation hybrid animals will have normal hair). A sign of hairlessness is manifested only in a homozygous (“clean” from the admixture of a “normal” gene) state, when the animal has a double set of sphinx hairless gene, whose genetic designation is hr. The exception to this rule is only a combination with the re gene, which is responsible for the sign of wavy hair in devonreks. In relation to it, the sphinx hairless gene is dominant, i.e. phenotypically manifests itself already in a heterozygous state (for example, in hybrid animals of the first generation).