Elf Cat: Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

elf kitten

 

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A new and extremely rare hybrid breed, the Elf cat is a playful and intelligent cat that combines the physical and personality traits of the Sphynx and American Curl cats. Elf cats are extremely sociable and friendly, and make excellent pets because they can easily integrate into any household and become part of the family.

Breed Overview

Weight: 10 to 15 pounds

Length: Medium to large in size

Coat: Hairless

Coat Colors: All colors and patterns

Eye Color: Varied

Life Expectancy: 8 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Elf Cat

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Elf Cat

Because the Elf cat is such a new and extremely rare breed, its history is somewhat limited. Breeders and cat enthusiasts Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom are considered to be the creators of the breed; in 2004 Nelson and Leedom 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 from crossing the Sphynx and American Curl cat breeds. Each these two breeds has a single distinctive trait, and the Elf cat was designed to combine them. The most distinctive features of this cat are the appearance of curled ears, taken from the American Curl, and hairlessness, taken from the Sphynx. However, like the Sphynx, the Elf cat is not actually completely hairless; its skin may be covered with a very fine fur that’s practically imperceptible to both the eye and by touch.

The medium to large Elf cat has an athletic, muscular body that's similar to the Sphynx, and they also inherited their prominent cheek bones and whisker pads. The Elf's whiskers and eyebrows are sparse and short, while their skin is wrinkled around the shoulders, ears, and muzzle. The breed takes their ears, which are curled backwards, from the American Curl cat, which is caused by a naturally-occurring genetic mutation; ear furnishings are also missing.

Many of the Elf cats are now in generations that are exhibiting the traits that were originally envisioned, and they are starting to be introduced in International Cat Association (TICA) showhalls. Once the required numbers were met, the original creators and breed enthusiasts gained acceptance of the Elf cat as a new trait of the Sphynx cat; the Elf cat has been accepted for registration with TICA, and are shown as Sphynx with new traits at cat shows.

Elf Cat Care

The Elf cat is generally considered to be a low-maintenance cat breed. Due to the fact that the Elf cat is hairless, potential owners won’t need to worry about shedding. However, these cats will require an routine bath or wipe-down. Regular grooming is important to remove secretions from the skin, otherwise an Elf cat can become sticky to the touch or even develop skin issues. Many Elf cats tolerate (and even enjoy) an occasional bath.

The Elf cat is a very sociable, gentle breed, which means that it can easily adapt to most household settings and family structures. They also adjust well to other pets in the home. However, their lack of hair means they must remain indoor cars for their comfort and safety.

The Elf cat was bred to perpetuate the best personality qualities of both the Sphynx and American Curl cats, such as friendliness and affection. They are also considered to be one of the most intelligent of all cat breeds. Because they’re so outgoing and social, they desire more human contact and interaction than the average cat and therefore are best suited to homes where they won’t be left alone for long periods of time. They will also be happier sharing their home with a fellow feline to play with.

Elf cats are active and gentle cats that love to be the center of attention, and they are also extremely inquisitive and playful (and have been known to get into a little bit of mischief). Potential Elf cat owners should be aware that these cats love to climb and will want to play with pretty much anything that's within their reach, so ample playtime and lots of toys--as well as high shelves or other safe spaces where they can climb--is a must.

Common Health Problems

Because of their hairless bodies, sunburn, sensitivity to hot and cold weather, and other skin issues are potential concerns for Elf cat owners. Their delicate skin can also be easily injured, such as when playing with a cat companion. The Elf cat is considered a healthy cat, and as a newer breed, genetic health issues have yet to be determined. However, they may be susceptible to health conditions that impact their parent breeds, such as heart and gum issues.

Diet and Nutrition

Like all breeds, the Elf cat can be susceptible to weight-related issues such as obesity or heart disease, so they should be fed a high-protein, high-quality diet and receive plenty of exercise in the form of playtime with their families. Potential Elf owners should know that both the Sphynx and American curl breeds tend to have robust appetites (and have a prominent belly to prove it), so it's that much more important to feed these cats a proper, balanced diet.

Pros
  • Gentle and great with families

  • Friendly to other cats and animals

Cons
  • Requires regular grooming

  • Cannot go outdoors

Where to Adopt or Buy an Elf Cat

Elf cats are very rare, so be sure to check local animal shelters and rescue groups for these cats that are in need of a forever home, as well as reputable breeders.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do your homework when choosing a cat. Talk to other Elf cat owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about this particular breed and their care. There's a variety of cat breeds and with a little research, you can be sure you'll find the right dog to bring home.

If you’re interested in learning more about other cats, consider these breeds: