The wench has done the unthinkable!! Touching my skin flap wings?!? HOW DARE YOU!!!! 🤬
The sphynx owners I spoke to all said they had done a lot of research before buying one, and were prepared for the work involved in looking after them. Unfortunately, as the breed has gained a higher profile, it occasionally doesn’t work out. In 2012 a group of volunteers set up Sphynx Open Arms Rescue (SOAR), a United States wide organization dedicated to rehoming the increasing number of sphynxes turning up at animal shelters.
Dawn Sanchez, a SOAR volunteer, said they have noticed a trend of sphynxes being left at shelters when they are around four or five years old, and have already passed through a few homes. “Some people buy them for the novelty and, if that wears off, they try to sell them to make some of their money back,” she said. (A sphynx costs around $1,000.) “This may happen several times and the sphynx then develops behavioral problems.”
She stressed that SOAR do not advise adopting a sphynx as a first option, unless people are very aware of the cost and extra responsibility involved in looking after a rescue sphynx. “Rescue is only a good idea for someone who is truly in it to rescue, not because it’s a cheap way of getting a novelty cat,” she said. SOAR move sphynxes from shelters only when they have found a suitable home for them to go to, meaning there are usually a few sphynxes waiting to be taken on. So far they have rehomed around 20 sphynxes; Sanchez herself has adopted four on top of this. One they are currently working with has been difficult to place due to his expensive medical bills: genetic illnesses like heart problems, respiratory and stomach diseases, herpes and skin rashes are becoming more widespread in sphynxes, as inexperienced breeders, hoping to cash in on the trend, do not perform regular health checkups on their cats.
Sanchez said some owners, inspired to buy a sphynx in recent years due to their higher profile, did not know what they were getting themselves in for in terms of the breed’s unique personality. From personal experience, having read a lot of sphynx advice forums before getting Lucien, I was still surprised by how much he craves human company. My boyfriend and I are only really able to have him because I work from home. Even as I write this, he is sitting on my knee, facing the computer with his legs crossed, watching the words appear on the screen. If he’s not sitting on top of me he usually drags a blanket up behind me and lies directly behind the wheel of my chair. When I go to the bathroom, he follows me and bangs on the door with the urgency of a detective. And in the morning, when I go to feed him, he wants to be picked up and held more than he wants food, and usually tries to climb up my legs, often pulling my trousers down in the process.
It can be a lot, although ultimately this is what makes sphynxes so perfect for people who want a pet that’s affectionate, but can’t really look after a dog. As Sanchez said: “Their personalities are why we love them, they are so much different than a normal cat.”
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Yana Kolesnikova, a breeder from Russia who sells sphynxes internationally via @holisticcats, said this borderline clinginess is one of the first thing she tells anyone purchasing a sphynx, but it rarely seems to put young people off. “They are like shadows, you're never alone,” Nick, a 29-year-old based in Antwerp who owns four sphynxes, said. His wife is a photographer, and she mostly works from home during the week; when she’s out on the weekend, Nick, who works for the government, is home. “They're not alone a lot of the time. We knew when we got a sphynx that they’re like part dog and part monkey, and we wanted a cat that was social,” he said. Gerritt had a similar view: Since he is a student, he spends most of his time at home with Ragner. “I leave for four hours max when I go to any lectures,” he said.
A few weeks ago, my washing machine flooded the kitchen again — the fifth time this year. When Pete arrived, he decided it was time to face his fear and pet Lucien. I picked Lucien up and held him in place while Pete slowly extended one hand, while looking to the side, as if he was placing it inside a tiger’s cage.
This time, he was won over. “He feels nice!” he exclaimed. “I know you said it, but still I thought he would be like a snake. And you know, I have been thinking, but his personality is nice. He looks like a monster, but inside he is like a little baby.”