The elf cat, a new and rare hybrid of the sphynx and American curl, is known for its hairless body and signature curled ears. These bright-eyed, muscular cats are highly sociable and intelligent and love to jump and play. While the elf cat requires no brushing, its grooming regimen can be demanding, as lacking fur requires different cleaning practices. Elf cats have existed for less than 20 years, so there is still a lot left to be understood about the breed, but rest assured, they make for excellent pets and offer years and years of loyal companionship.
Other Names: n/a
Personality: Sociable, intelligent, affectionate
Weight: 10 to 15 pounds
Length: 13 to 15 inches
Coat Length: Hairless
Coat Colors: Grey, black, beige, pink
Coat Patterns: Solid, spotted
Eye Color: All colors
Lifespan: Eight to fourteen years
Origin: United States
Characteristics of the Elf Cat
The elf cat has a friendly, gentle personality, can quickly adapt to most household settings and family structures, and tend to get along with other pets in the home. They are intelligent and playful and are known to demand attention. Elf cats are best for owners who can give their pets ample attention. Potential elf cat owners should know that these cats love to climb onto high surfaces, so a stimulating play environment and high lounging spots are a must. Elf cats usually stop growing at one year of age.
|Tendency to Vocalize||Medium|
|Amount of Shedding||Low|
History of the Elf Cat
Because the Elf cat is a new and extremely rare breed, its history is somewhat limited. Breeders Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom are considered to be the elf cat's creators when, in 2004, they came together with a vision of breeding a cat with curled ears that retained the personality and physical attributes of their beloved sphynx cats. The elf cat was successfully developed by crossing the sphynx and American curl, yielding a hairless cat with curled ears.
Although the elf cat has been around for less than 20 years, it has made its mark in cat shows run by TICA (The International Cat Association). Still, the elf cat isn't recognized as a breed of its own but rather a variation on the sphynx.
Elf Cat Care
Understanding how best to care for your cat improves its quality of life. The elf cat's exercise needs are straightforward, but, contrary to what you may assume, hairless cats have more grooming needs than cats with coats.
The exercise needs of an elf cat are standard to those of most domestic cats. Because hairless breeds are indoor cats, make sure to provide them with a stimulating play environment. It's advised to give your cat 15 minutes of active playtime every day, but creating surfaces for independent climbing and jumping will also help your cat get out some of its energy on its own.
Because the elf cat is hairless, owners won’t need to worry about shedding. But, even if your cat has no fur, it still produces dander. A hairless cat is close to hypoallergenic, but an allergen-sensitive owner may still be affected.
Even though elf cats don't have fur, they require frequent baths and wipe-downs. Regular grooming is essential to remove secretions from the skin. Otherwise, an elf cat can become sticky to the touch or develop skin issues. Hairless cats perform some self-grooming, but due to their many folds, there are crevices they can't reach on their own. You should also moisturize your elf cat using a chemical-free product that contains SPF, as hairless cats are especially prone to sunburns.
Common Health Problems
The elf cat is considered a healthy cat, but as a newer breed, some genetic health issues have yet to be determined. Most health problems related to the elf cat are due to its hairlessness.
- Skin problems: Hairless cats are predisposed to various skin issues due to their lack of coat. Oil buildup can create rashes, infections, and a higher susceptibility to skin injury. Like its sphynx ancestor, the elf cat is more prone to sunburns and residual skin cancer.
- Ear infections: Hairless cats can quickly develop ear infections and require frequent ear cleanings.
- Body temperature regulation issues: Hairless cats have difficulty regulating their body temperature because of their lack of fur insulation. Be sure your elf cat wears a sweater and has an especially warm place to lay down in cold weather.
The medium to large elf cat has a hairless, athletic, muscular body and prominent cheekbones, similar to the sphynx, and its eyes range from blue to gold. The elf cat's whiskers and eyebrows are sparse and short, and its skin is wrinkled around the shoulders, ears, and muzzle. Its unique ears curl backward, an effect caused by a genetic mutation. This mutation causes some ear furnishings to be missing. The elf cat is so genetically close to its sphynx parent that most of its physical traits, save for its ears, are the same.
Due to the newness of the cat, there is no breed standard. This means all variations of elf cat colors and patterns are considered normal.
Diet and Nutrition
To maintain proper body temperature, hairless cats need to burn calories constantly. This means that the elf cat requires a high-calorie diet to stay warm. Elf cat owners should know that both the sphynx and American curl have robust appetites, so feeding these cats a proper, balanced diet is critical. Consult your vet to determine the right amount of food for your cat.
Where to Adopt or Buy an Elf Cat
Elf cats are very rare, and it is doubtful that you will find one in a shelter. Instead, visit an elf cat breeder to purchase a cat for upwards of $2000.
Elf Cat Overview
The gentle, playful elf cat makes for an excellent companion. However, you may have trouble tracking one down due to its novelty and rareness. The elf cat's hairlessness is a great option for allergic cat owners but, in exchange, requires more intensive grooming. Consider all available information before deciding if an elf cat is right for you.
Gentle and great with families
Friendly to other cats and animals
Requires regular grooming
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
If you’re interested in learning more about similar breeds, check these out:
Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles
What is the difference between an elf cat and a Sphynx?
Because of their shared DNA, elf cats and Sphynx have a lot in common. But, the elf cat is set apart by its curled ears.
Are elf cats rare?
Elf cats are a very new breed and, as a result, are quite rare. The only reliable way to find one of your own is through an elf cat breeder.
Are elf cats hard to take care of?
The highest maintenance aspect of owning an elf cat is its grooming regiment. Hairless cats require frequent wiping-down to prevent oil buildup and rashes.