5 Hairless Cat Breeds to Know

hairless cat

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Whether you just want to know more about fur-less felines or you’re considering which breed of hairless cat is right for you, there are a few things you should know about all hairless cats.

First, hairless cats are the result of natural gene mutations. Which specific gene is mutated and whether it's dominant or recessive varies by breed. Second, some hairless cats have peach fuzz while others are truly smooth to the touch. Finally, keep in mind that hairless cats require specific care. They often need help regulating their body temperature, in the way of a fuzzy sweater or warm bed, and they shouldn’t spend prolonged periods of time in the sun. Additionally, some breeds need a regular bath to prevent a build-up of oil on the skin.

Fortunately for the cat community, an interested and dedicated group of breeders has worked to develop these five hairless cat breeds: The Bambino, the Elf Cat, the Donskoy, the Peterbald, and the well-known Sphynx. Read on to learn more about the origin and unique features of each of these hairless cats. 

  • 01 of 05

    Bambino

    hairless cat sitting on couch

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    The Bambino is a pint-sized hairless cat, as the name (which means baby or child in Italian) suggests. This hairless cat is a cross between two breeds with naturally occurring genetic mutations, the Sphynx and the Munchkin. It’s also sometimes referred to as a Minskin.

    The cat gets its short stature from the Munchkin and its smooth skin from the Sphynx. However, since it’s a hybrid hairless cat, some cats have more fur than others—primarily on the face, ears, legs, and tail. The cats are reportedly outgoing and affectionate, and they make excellent pets that enjoy the company of people and other animals. Though they are not currently recognized by any of the international cat associations, they are lovable cats in compact bodies. 

  • 02 of 05

    Elf Cat

    hairless elf cat on a blanket

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    An impish-looking cat if ever there was one, the Elf cat has upturned ears framing a wrinkled forehead that gives this breed a whimsical expression. The Elf cat is a product of crossbreeding between the Sphynx and American Curl in the United States.

    These cats typically have a downy feel to their soft skin, similar to peach fuzz. Some will have light patches of hair over the ears, nose, paws, or tail. While this is a newer hairless cat breed, it’s on its way to breed recognition and has been recognized by TICA (The International Cat Association) as an experimental breed. 

  • 03 of 05

    Donskoy

    donskoy cat breed

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    Russia has claim to its very own hairless cat breed, the Donskoy—also known as the Russian Hairless, Don Hairless, or Don Sphynx. While similar in appearance to the Sphynx, the Donskoy is a unique breed. Unlike the Sphynx, whose hairless nature springs from a recessive gene mutation, the Donskoy is hairless thanks to a dominant gene mutation. 

    The known carrier of the mutated gene was discovered as a stray cat in the late 1980’s, and the breed received recognition from the World Cat Federation in 1987. TICA recognition wouldn’t come till much later—in 2005. Interestingly, some Donskoy cats may develop a partial winter coat when the weather cools and shed it once the season changes. 

  • 04 of 05

    Peterbald

    peterbald cat

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    Another breed of hairless cat hailing from Russia, the Peterbald is an elegant looking feline with prominent features and long limbs. It originated from a cross between the Donskoy and Oriental Shorthair in 1993. The breed received recognition from TICA in 2005.

    The gene mutation responsible for the Donskoy is not well-understood, and as a result of the cross to an Oriental Shorthair, not all Peterbalds are born as hairless cats. While some kittens are born with a hairless appearance, others are born with a fine downy coat or peach fuzz, and still others have an altered coat they either shed or retain for life. Occasionally, a Peterbald is born with a straight coat (like a typical cat).

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Sphynx

    sphynx cat

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    The most well-known hairless cat breed is the Sphynx. Canada is credited with the origination of the breed and it’s said to have appeared in Toronto in the mid-1960’s. Resulting from a naturally occurring recessive genetic mutation, the Sphynx breed was developed through careful cross-breeding to shorthair cats. The crossbreeding that resulted in this well-defined hairless cat breed has also contributed to a healthy, robust gene pool.

    It wasn’t until 2002 that the Cat Fanciers Association gave the Sphynx official breed recognition, and TICA followed suit in 2005. But today the Sphynx is well-known for its affectionate nature and outgoing, playful personality. Of course, its most distinguishing factor is its smooth, wrinkly skin. Sphynx cats may have a light downy coat or patches of hair, primarily on the face, legs, and tail. The Sphynx has been used as a foundation breed in a variety of other established and experimental hairless cat breeds. 

Whether you love their wrinkled faces and peach fuzz or find hairless cats to be one of nature’s oddities, there’s no denying that these cats are striking! With an interest in unusual and exotic cat breeds on the rise, there's little doubt that hairless cats will continue to grow in popularity.