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Why Do Hairless Cats Exist? What Were They Bred for? (With Pictures)

The hairless cat varies in degrees of hairlessness. Some have a very fine peach fuzz either all over their bodies or over their extremities. They’re not everyone’s first choice of a feline friend, but they’re undeniably eye-catching.

But is their hairlessness bred on purpose, or is it a genetic fluke? In general, hairless cats result from naturally occurring mutations of shorthair cats or sometimes they are purposely bred. We explore the types of hairless cats and what they were bred for. So, whether you’re here because you’re thinking of getting one or because you’re just curious, we have the answer below!

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The 9 Breeds of Hairless Cats

Throughout history, there have been hairless cats. The Aztecs cared for them, and whenever the hairless gene occurred, it was selectively bred. We’ve collected nine examples of hairless cats; some you may have heard of and some you might not have.

1. Sphynx

sphynx cat hepper pod bedroom

When you think about a hairless cat, it’s probably the Sphynx that comes to mind first. It’s the most well-known hairless cat. They’re known for their playfulness and startling looks, with their large lemon-shaped eyes, long legs, big ears, and rounded bellies.

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2. Lykoi

lykoi cat
Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

It might surprise you to find out the Lykoi can be hairless too. They’re known as the werewolf cat thanks to their eyes and black/gray coat. Thankfully, they’re nothing like their wolfish namesakes and are instead incredibly playful and loving cats.

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3. Donskoy (Russian Hairless)

donskoy cat lying on a sofa
Image Credit: Viachaslau Herostratos, Shutterstock

Whether you know them as the Donskoy or the Russian Hairless, it’s the same cat. Unlike the Sphynx, which has a recessive gene to thank for its hairlessness, the Donskoy’s lack of long hair is due to a dominant gene, which makes them much easier to breed.

They are muscular-looking cats and are known for their intellect and playful natures. They also tend to get a very slight winter coat during the colder months.

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4. Bambino

bambino sitting in the sofa
Image: Peterpancake, Shutterstock

The Bambino is a cross between the Munchkin and Sphynx, which makes them tiny cats that can be as small as 5 pounds. Some have patches of hair that you’ll have to shave. They’re known for being energetic, playful cats.

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5. Ukrainian Levkoy

ukrainian levkoy cat
Image Credit: Oleksandr Volchanskyi, Shutterstock

The Ukrainian Levkoy is a newbie and has only been around since early 2000. They’re a cross between the Donskoy and Scottish Fold cats, and they have distinctive inward folding ears. While they enjoy playtime, they’re a little more laid back than most cat breeds.

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6. Peterbald

peterbald cat on black background
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

The Peterbald is a mixture of the Oriental Shorthair and the Sphynx. It’s not the easiest cat to get your hands on. Their fur has been likened to the feeling of felt, and very occasionally, you may find one with a full coat. They’re known to be loving, playful cats that are fantastic companions. If you can find one, of course.

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7. Dwelf

dwelf cat on gray sheets
Image Credit: Jenni Ferreira, Shutterstock

The Dwelf is a cross between the American Curl, Sphynx, and the Munchkin. This mixture creates a tiny cat that never exceeds 4.5 pounds. They have short legs and long bodies and are known for being very playful and having an almost dog-like personality.

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8. Minskin

minskin munchkin
Image Credit: Jaroslaw Kurek, Shutterstock

The Minskin has been described as the Corgi of the cat world, with their short legs and stocky bodies. They are a cross between the Sphynx and Munchkin and later crossed with the Devon Rex cats and Burmese. They are one of the smallest domestic cats in the world and weigh only 4 pounds. They’re outgoing and extremely playful.

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9. Elf

The Elf cat is another new breed, which came from breeding a Sphynx and an American Curl in 2004. It’s so genetically close to the Sphynx that most of its physical traits are the same, except its ears curl back. They are playful, with gentle personalities, and can be quite demanding with their need for attention.

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Why Do Hairless Cats Exist?

Sometimes a hairless cat is a complete fluke. The history of the Sphynx cat can be linked back to Ontario, Canada, in 1966, when a domestic shorthair cat gave birth to a hairless kitten called Prune. Prune’s line eventually ended in the early 1980s, but not before some of the cats developed health issues due to their shallow gene pool.

The Sphynx results from naturally occurring and completely spontaneous mutations of shorthair cats. In contrast, some breeds exist entirely on purpose. The Elf, for example, was created because the breeders wanted a cat with curled ears that shared its personality and physical attributes with the Sphynx.

Are Hairless Cats Easier to Care For?

With their lack of fur, it would be logical to assume there would be less grooming involved with a hairless cat. This is, unfortunately, untrue. Hairless cats require frequent baths and wipes to remove secretions from their skin. Failure to do this could result in your cat feeling sticky to the touch, and eventually, they might develop skin issues.

Hairless cats, like their fluffy cousins, will self-groom, but thanks to their many wrinkles and folds, there will be places they can’t reach. Some require oils or moisturizers to protect them, and they’re also more prone to sunburn.

Hairless cats are not hypoallergenic because it isn’t due to the fur itself when you suffer from an allergic reaction. Instead, it’s the saliva or dander (dead skin) which your hairless cat will still produce.

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Final Thoughts

Hairless cats exist through a combination of genetic mistakes or happy accidents. While their hairlessness is striking at first, it isn’t the most crucial aspect of a hairless cat. At first glance, it might be assumed they’re easier to care for because they don’t have any fur to shed. But their soft wrinkles need as much, if not more, care.

Each hairless variety has diverse features and personalities that you cannot help but fall in love with. We can see why people have chosen to bring them into their families for so long, right back to the Aztec period!

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Featured Image Credit: Igor Lukin, Pixabay

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