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Donskoy Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Traits, & Facts

Height: 11-12 inches
Weight: 6-12 pounds
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Colors: Hairless but skin color varies
Suitable for: Families looking for an affectionate, non-shedding cat
Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, and intelligent. Friendly and outgoing, gets along with other pets

If you’ve been looking for a clever and loyal cat that’s also a little bit different, prepare to meet the eye-catching Donskoy breed. This breed hails from Russia and was created when an adopted street cat began to lose her coat. After her kittens also lost their coats, the Donskoy breed was born.

Donskoy cats require a few special considerations, so they’re not a breed for everyone. They’ll usually need to be kept inside, as they can suffer from severe sunburn if left to roam outside for extended periods. Their hairlessness means that they’re going to feel the cold much more than most cat breeds. As a result, you’ll need to make sure your temperature-sensitive Donskoy is kept warm either by having a cozy house or using a cat coat.

This breed is relatively new and was only accepted by The International Cat Association in 2005. Have you only recently discovered this eye-catching breed and want to find out as much about them as possible? If so, you’re in the right place! Keep reading as we cover everything you need to know about Donskoys. What they lack in hair, they sure make up for in character!

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Donskoy Kittens — Before You Buy

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

If the Donskoy breed’s soft hairless coat and cute wrinkles have you smitten, you might find it hard to avoid coming home with a kitten if you visit a breeder! While we agree that these cats are cool, there’s a great deal of information you need to know that makes them a little different than your average cat.

Their lack of hair means they have a few different care requirements than other cats. As mentioned, Donskoys are best kept as indoor cats due to their sun-sensitive skin and trouble self-regulating their body temperature. Of course, they also don’t need regular grooming sessions to keep their fur untangled, but that doesn’t mean they’re a low-maintenance breed. You’ll need to take good care of their skin by wiping it down, as well as giving your cat monthly baths.

Donskoys love their people; a hallmark of the breed is their incredible loyalty. They love to be the center of attention and are often described as having a personality more like a dog than a cat. That means you need to be sure you can commit to the time and attention that these cats deserve before taking the plunge.

What’s the Price of Donskoy Kittens?

Donskoys are a rare breed, which means you’ll be paying a premium price for one of these kittens. It’s recommended to buy one from a reputable breeder who has significant experience with this breed. The International Cat Association (TICA) holds a list of Donskoy cat breeders who have signed their code of conduct.

You should expect to pay anywhere from $500 up to $2,000 or more. This price will depend on a range of factors, including the pedigree of each kitten, as well as their skin color and type. Breeder experience will also play a part, so don’t be tempted to select your kitten just based on a bargain-basement price. It’s a good idea to ask if you can visit the kittens, as well as meet their mother and father cats. Most reputable breeders will be more than happy to accommodate requests such as this, and if they don’t allow potential buyers to visit their facilities, then alarm bells should start ringing.

While you might find a Donskoy cat for adoption in a cat shelter, as a rare breed, they won’t be there for long! You can register your interest with a local shelter, but also ask any breeders you’ve been speaking to. They’ll be heavily involved with other Donskoy owners and may well know of an older cat looking for a new home.3 cat face divider

Three Little-Known Facts About the Donskoy Cat

1. They have four different coat types

As a hairless breed, the Donskoy doesn’t exactly have a “coat” of fur, but the Donskoy breed standard does list four distinct types that are allowed in the breed:

Born bald, or rubber bald. This is a true hairless cat, with a completely bald coat.

Flock coat. While these cats appear bald, they have an extremely fine layer of hair that can give them the texture of chamois leather. Sometimes, cats with flock coats will lose them as they mature, and develop a true rubber bald coat.

Velour coat. Most kittens with a velour coat are born with a small bald patch on the top of their head. Their bodies have a short wavy coat that usually disappears by the time they’re two years of age.

Brush coat. The body of a Donskoy with a brush coat will be covered with wiry fur. They may have small bald patches across their head, neck, and back.

All coat types are permitted in showing except for a brush coat. These kittens won’t be admitted to shows, but they can still be used in breeding programs.

2. Wrinkles are where it’s at

As well as their hairless or semi-hairless bodies, another defining feature of the Donskoy breed is those characterful wrinkles. These cats should have an “elastic” skin, which gives the impression of being slightly too large for their bodies. The result is that it collects in wrinkles around their chins, jowls, and cheeks. You’ll also see wrinkles between their ears, running onto their forehead. Their bodies should also be wrinkled, especially at the base of the tail and on the sides of the body. The Donskoy breed standard specifies, “the more wrinkles, the better.”

3. The Donskoys Hairlessness is all down to a mutated gene

In 1987, Elena Kovaleva rescued a stray kitten in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. She named the kitten Varvara and decided to keep her. After Elena had looked after Varvara for a few months, the kitten began to lose her hair, and nothing that Elena did to help her seemed to make any difference. Then Varvara had a litter of kittens: They were a mixture of haired and hairless. When the haired kittens began to lose their hair, cat breeders began to think that perhaps this was due to a gene that had mutated and caused hair loss.

A professional breeder named Irina Nemikina started a breeding program with one of the kittens, and sure enough, the subsequent litters were hairless. The new breed was named the Don Sphynx, in honor of the River Don that ran close to where Elena had originally rescued Varvara and the Sphynx cat with its hairless coat. You might also see these cats called Russian Donskoy, Russian Hairless, and Don Hairless. They’re all the same breed!

The Donskoy was accepted into the World Cat Federation in 1987 and The International Cat Association in 2005.

Donskoy sphinx cat_Kekyalyaynen_shutterstock
Credit: Kekyalyaynen, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Donskoy

The Donskoy is in a class of its own and isn’t comparable to any other cat breed in terms of temperament and intelligence. They’re loyal, intelligent, and brimming with character. While they do enjoy a good nap, their high energy levels mean they’ll need plenty of entertaining when they’re up and about.

Donskoys are intelligent and quick-witted, meaning they take well to being trained and taught basic commands. They’re also incredibly loyal and will bond tightly with members of their family. While this is a wonderful trait, it also means that they do best in homes where they won’t be left alone for too much of the day.

This breed is also incredibly laidback, and this may well have something to do with their lack of hair. It’s thought that the same gene that codes for hairlessness is also responsible for elements of a cat’s character.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

This breed is a great choice for certain families, but you need to be sure you can meet the demands of a Donskoy before bringing one into your home. They’re not the best choice for first-time cat owners, as they do have special requirements that set them apart from other cats.

They’ll usually need to be kept inside, as allowing them to roam free outside can put them at risk of sunburn. As they can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively as other cats, they’re susceptible to becoming too cold. They’re also a rare breed, which can make them a target for cat thieves.

They are a good choice for families with allergies. They’re not truly hypoallergenic, because the protein that causes allergies is still present in their skin and saliva, but they are much more allergy-friendly than some other cat breeds.

They love children, though, and will enjoy spending time playing with them and learning new tricks. They can suffer from separation anxiety, so they prefer to live in households where someone is at home most of the time.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

The Donskoy is a sociable breed — with people at least! That doesn’t mean they extend this spirit of friendship to other cats in the same household. While it seems that they adapt well to being kept with other Donskoy cats, they’re certainly not so accommodating with other breeds!

They do, on the other hand, quite enjoy the company of a well-mannered dog. If you’re planning on bringing a Donskoy cat into a household that already has a dog, make sure you do so in a controlled environment, using short supervised sessions as your pets get to know each other.3 cat divider

Things to Know When Owning a Donskoy

While you might be tempted to rush out and buy one of these clever and loyal kittens right away, choosing to add a Donskoy to your family isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. They have specific requirements that set them apart from other cat breeds, so let’s take a look at those in more detail.

Food & Diet Requirements 

Most Donskoys will do well on high-protein food. When bringing your kitten home, it’s a good idea to ask the breeder which brand they use and to see if you can source the same type. Allowing your kitten to eat the same food as they adapt to their new home can make the transition easier by reducing the likelihood of your cat suffering from an upset tummy due to a new diet and a new house in close succession.

If you do choose to switch brands, make sure you do so carefully and over a week or so. Most brands provide advice on the proportions to feed as you switch over.

While the food requirements of the Donskoy aren’t particularly special, you will need to feed them more than your average cat of the same size, especially during the winter. The Donskoy expends much more energy keeping their body temperature at the correct level, so they need additional food to compensate. While most manufacturers will specify how much to feed a cat of a particular weight, bear in mind that this might not be enough for your hairless Donskoy. If you’re unsure, speak to your veterinarian, who can help you come up with a diet plan tailored to your cat’s needs.

Exercise🐈

Donskoys love to run and play, and their high energy levels mean they need quite a bit of entertaining throughout the day. Making sure your cat has a wide range of toys to play with means they’ll always be able to burn off that extra energy.

Food puzzles, electronic toys, and catnip mice are a great way of keeping your Donskoy entertained. By rotating your cat’s toys and adding in a new toy occasionally, you can make sure to keep their interest. While it can be tempting to leave all their toys out, by keeping some aside for one session a day or leaving out when you go shopping, you can keep your cat’s interest levels high.

Donskoy Cat Breed Info
Photo credit: Cat Sphynx. Kittens by Dmitry Makeev licensed by CC 4.0

Training 🎾

Donskoys love spending time with their owners, and that extends to training sessions as well! Whether you’d like to teach your cat to sit, wave, or walk on a leash, a Donskoy will be a willing partner for all these activities and more.

If you are taking your Donskoy for a training session outside, be sure to prepare them appropriately for the weather. They’ll need to wear sunscreen when going outside in hot weather and a cat jumper or coat when it’s cold.

Grooming ✂️

While Donskoys certainly don’t need grooming in the traditional sense of brushing their coat, you will still have to spend the time keeping them comfortable. While they might be hairless, their skin still produces oils. This needs to be wiped off once a day, to avoid excessive build-up.

It’s recommended to bath your Donskoy around once a month, but not more than that, as you don’t want to encourage their skin to become oilier.

Some Donskoys will grow a light coat of hair in the winter and then shed it again in the summer. You can help them keep warm by dressing them in a cat jumper when it’s particularly cold.

This breed can suffer from teeth and gum problems, so make sure you brush their teeth regularly, as well as book check-ups with your veterinarian.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Luckily, the Donskoy is a fairly healthy breed and doesn’t suffer from too many major issues. Even so, there are a few minor conditions, the risks of which can easily be reduced by careful management.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin complaints
  • Sunburn
  • Wounds from rough surfaces
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Gum and tooth diseases
Serious Conditions
  • Feline ectodermal dysplasia

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Male vs. Female

Perhaps by now, you’ve decided that a Donskoy cat is the perfect cat, and we couldn’t blame you for that! Maybe the only thing left to decide is whether you should get a boy or girl kitten?

The first thing we’ll say on this subject is that a kitten’s personality won’t necessarily be a reflection of their sex. It’s always best to meet a litter with an open mind and see which kitten appeals to you the most, and then find out if they’re male or female!

Male Donskoys will be slightly larger, but that’s almost all that separates them from their female counterparts.cat + line divider

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an unusual cat breed in terms of both character and looks, you may have met your perfect partner in the Donskoy. Their loyal nature is said to be almost dog-like, while their large ears, short muzzles, and sphynx-shaped heads mean they’ll catch the eye of anyone who meets them.

They do require a few special elements in terms of their care, though, so you need to make sure you can provide these. Donskoys are best suited to life as an indoor cat, and you’ll need to take care that they’re never left to get too cold or too hot. They’ll also be happiest in a home where there will be someone to keep them company for most of the day.

If you decide to take the plunge and add one of these sweet hairless kittens to your family, we’re sure that you’ll be glad of that decision. Their intelligent and fun-loving nature means there will never be a dull moment!

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Featured image credit: lukinIgor, Pixabay Fish Icon