History of the Sphynx



 

The unusual characteristic of a hairless cat was probably a naturally spontaneous mutation in the breed. "The Book of the Cat" published in 1903 refers to a pair of hairless cats called Mexican Hairless, which was obtained from a New Mexican couple from local Pueblo Indians. The breed later resurfaced when a couple of Siamese cats gave birth to three hairless kittens in 1950 in Paris. And although subsequent mating between the same pair produced the same result, breeding with other Siamese cats did not lead to hairless offspring.

Other hairless specimens were discovered in Morocco, Australia, North Carolina, and in Toronto, Canada, where in 1966, a pair of domestic shorthairs produced a litter that included a hairless kitten. It was then that the modern Sphynx came into existence.

However, the familiar history of the Sphynx breed begins in 1975. Minnesota farm owners, Milt and Ethelyn Pearson, found that a hairless kitten had been born to their farm cat, Jezabelle. This kitten, Epidermis, was then paired with a later born hairless kitten named Dermis, and sold to Kim Mueske, an Oregon breeder.

In 1978, Siamese breeder Shirley Smith of Ontario, discovered two hairless kittens on her neighborhood street. The two kittens, Punkie and Paloma, were both acquired by Dr. Hugo Hernandez and bred with a white Devon Rex named Curare van Jetrophin. The cats produced from this union, along with the cats from Oregon, laid the foundation for a new breed line. Although it is not the Sphynx we know today, because pairings of the Sphynx with the Devon Rex resulted in congenital abnormalities, the resultant offspring was enough to cause a ripple of excitement in the cat breeding community.

Breeders in Europe and North America set to work perfecting the breed, outcrossing the Sphynx with normal haired cats, and then back again, selecting kittens with physical and mental qualities that would be best for the perpetuation of the breed. This selective breeding over the years has produced a strong and vigorous breed with a wide gene pool.

It was in 2002 that the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) finally accepted the Sphynx for competition in the Championship class. In 2006, Majikmoon Will Silver With Age, bred by Rebekah Lewis, won the CFA Cat of the Year, and in 2007, Enchantdlair NWA Cornflake Girl, bred and owned by Mary P. Nelson, won Kitten of the Year.

Of interesting note, in 1997 a Sphynx named Ted Nude-Gent (full name: SGC Belfry Ted Nude-Gent), played the part of Mr. Bigglesworth in the popular comedy film, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and again in 1999 in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. In the latter movie, Ted Nude-Gent was joined by a "mini" version of him, Mini Mr. Bigglesworth, which was played by three Sphynx kittens: Mel Gibskin, Skindiana Jones, and Paul Nudeman.

As mentioned earlier, the Devon Rex is no longer allowed for outcrossing with the Sphynx because of fatal genetic abnormalities presenting. The breed is still being outcrossed with the American Shorthair, but only until 2010, when the Sphynx gene line is expected to be dependably stable. After that time the Sphynx breed will only be allowed to mate within its breed class.

 


Contact Details

Deb Lee
Castlemaine, VIC
Phone : 0488 329 823
Email : [email protected]