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Care & Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) &
how we work to eliminate it as much as possible.
HCM (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) is a common cardiac condition and is the most common heart disease in many cat breeds. One of the reasons we have outcross breeds (Elf, Dwelf and Bambino) is to minimize the odds of developing HCM by introducing new bloodlines. Typically kitten will show signs of HCM before their first year, which is why we warranty against kitten death for the first whole year of life. A cat that seems healthy may appear to become very ill very quickly, or even die suddenly after developing a blood clot in the heart, having displayed no symptoms of ill-health. A cat’s heart that is affected by HCM will have a thickened left ventricle wall. Rather than growing larger outwardly, the walls of the heart grow inward, restricting the amount of blood that can be pumped through the ventricle. As the condition worsens, it becomes increasingly difficult for the heart to perform its job, and the heart eventually fails. All of our bloodlines are scanned for heart disease and must scan clear twice before they are allowed to be part of the breeding program. There is also genetic testing at UC Davis. We warranty our kittens against HCM death until they are one year old, as HCM typically will be detectable prior to that time.
Hairless cats have been described in many regions of the world, but the first successful breed was the Sphynx. The earliest Sphynx was born in 1966, and the cat was named Prune. However, Prune’s line died out without descendants. In 1967, hairless kittens, and their long haired mother cat were rescued in Toronto. The kittens were neutered; the mother, however, had other kittens. Two were exported to Europe, where one of the kittens was bred to a Devon Rex. The cat had hairless offspring which were presented by Vicki and Peter Markstein at the Madison Square Garden cat show in the 1980s. It was implied that this recessive gene was the same locus as the Devon gene. Like with many purebred animals, over-breeding to promote particular traits can lead to health issues. At Free Range, we have used outcrosses (different breeds of cats) approved by TICA in our Sphynx lines. It is a long, lengthy process and requires four generations of kittens after an outcross has been introduced before the hairless offspring are considered purebred. When adding new bloodlines, we chose this opportunity to add some unique features, resulting in Sphynx Special Trait kittens, namely Elf, Dwelf and Bambino cats. The resulting offspring have greatly reduced risks of HCM in our Sphynx lines. There is no way to guarantee that HCM won't show up in a cat's lifetime. However, we believe our practices greatly minimizes the chances of it occurring.
Q: What are odd-eyes?
Odd-eyes, a rare trait, is where one eye differs in color from the other. This is a trait I also bred into my lines back in 2006. It has taken generations and years of selective breeding to develop this trait in Sphynx cats. Many times the kittens eye color doesn’t change to odd-eye until the kitten is over six weeks. Any contracts written on a kitten that develops odd-eyes can be renegotiated to include the special feature. The Buyer would have the chance to transfer their deposit onto a different kitten should they not want an odd-eyed kitten. Kittens that develop odd-eyes will be subject to a premium increase with a contract revision.
Q: What are polydactyl feet and are there any concerns with them?
Polydactyl feet are a genetic trait that occur in many breeds throughout the world. Many people know them as Hemingway cats, as all of Hemingway's cats had polydactyl feet. The trait can add thumbs or up to three additional toes per foot. We have spent years breeding polydactyl feet into some of our bloodlines. We are the only breeder that offers polydactyl feet in all four lines, Sphynx, Elf, Bambino and Dwelf cats. This is a premium trait and is not included in the standard adoption fee. The additional toes offer the cats extra dexterity and have no known mechanical defects.
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Common Questions & Answers
Q: Do you deliver?
A: We offer worldwide delivery from our house to yours. The love and affection of Sphynx cats transcend language and borders. We have been providing delivery throughout the US for decades, and are now offering delivery to every friendly country, utilizing our in-person deliver practices. We can coordinate quarantine requirements so the rules of each country are respected and your kitten gets home safely. Delivery fees are the responsibility of the buyer.
Q: How soon can I bring my kitten home?
A: To build a stronger, healthy immune system in your kitten is to wait until they have their infant vaccines, given at the appropriate time. We allow our kittens to head home no sooner than 12 weeks. There are milestones that must be met which include the weight of the kitten, vaccinations, and method of delivery. We know it’s hard to wait so we’ve developed a plan to help you, and baby, while you’re separated.We use scent-identify practices so your kitten will associate you with love, safety, comfort and home. We provide photos and/or videos, along with what milestones your kitten has achieved. The number of tragedies we’ve heard about from buyers whom received their kittens between eight to 10 weeks is heartbreaking. It leads to a lifetime of health issues, deficits, or loss of life. We cannot predict exactly when a kitten will go home, but do our best to give you a month lead time.
Q: Are Sphynx cats hypoallergenic?
A: Not always. Despite popular belief hairless cats are not hypoallergenic though they some people are not allergic to them. If a person is allergic to cat hair they will likely not have a reaction after interacting with a hairless cat. However a person allergic to cat dander or saliva can still have a reaction though it can be greatly lessened by making sure the cat in question is bathed often. We got our first Sphynx because I am deathly allergic to hairy cats. Hairy cats make my eyes swell, welts develop, and trigger an asthma attack. I have zero problems with Sphynx and usually have at least three or four sitting in my lap, snuggled along my neck or tucked in my shirt.
Q: I’ve found kittens that are cheaper than yours. Why should I pay your price?
A: We breed our cats as family members. We breed for the best of health and personality and stand behind our kittens. Our kittens are well socialized, affectionate, healthy and strong. Almost every day I receive a call from people who has adopted from other breeders, and their kitten is now ill or dead. Usually, these people are not only devastated at the loss, but also in debt with vet bills, or expenses with no kitten.
I am not the cheapest out there. But I also know that you’re not going to be burying a kitten or juvenile cat. We take every precaution so you’re not going to have a kitten that will have lifelong health conditions that cut its life short. We can warranty this through health screening the cats prior to making them parents, only breeding bloodlines that are free of known genetic disorders, abstaining from inbreeding and line-breeding, raising our kittens with the best foods and vet care, and raising kittens with constant loving care. Even with all those factors, if something is askew, we are there to ensure you’ll have an excellent experience and a kitten that grows into adulthood and has a long life with you. We cannot settle for less, and don’t think you should either.
Q: What is the average life span of a Sphynx cat?
A: Naked cats will live as long as any other breed, one of the oldest living cats was a Sphynx whom lived to 34 at the time of his death. His name was Grandpa and he was fed broccoli and bacon every morning. Not a diet we recommend, but it worked for Grandpa. We have had many of our kittens live to 18 - 20 years.
Q: Do naked cats need baths? And how often?
A: Most do. Most naked cats require a bath approximately about once a month, though some need more and some less. Every cat is unique and produces oil differently. We will help you decide on the ideal schedule for your kitten with tips and tricks to make life easier.
Q: Do sphynx cats get sunburns?
A: Yes, so they’re indoor only unless you’re transporting them briefly. These are not outside cats.
Q: Why are naked cats really hairless?
A: Actually naked cats aren’t hairless. They have a thin down all over their body, some more than others. Their hairless appearance is caused by a genetic mutation that causes their fur not to grow. They can range from sticky-bald all the way to velvety. They may have short whiskers, and a mask, tail-fuzz and “shoes”. Some genetic traits and environmental influences can affect the kittens hair over the duration of its life. They feel like warm peaches.
Q: Should I put sweaters on my naked cat?
A: That is up to your cat. Their normal temperature is 102 degrees. If they seem overheated or outright dislike the sweater, leave it on for small increments of time for them to adjust. Many nakeds love to be dressed up.
Q: My Sphynx cat likes to ride on my shoulder. Does he/she believe they are a parrot?
A: Maybe. We've known an entire bloodlines of Sphynx cats that often ride on the shoulders of their humans. Sometimes they’ll groom us while they’re up there. We find that personality traits carry down through the offspring. That is why we select our breeding cats to be of the best health with fun, loving dispositions.
Q: What kind of cat would be a good companion for my Sphynx cat?
A: These loving naked cats do get lonely if they don't have someone to play with for long periods of time, so another cat is a good idea. They LOVE companionship, and if their human isn’t available routinely, we recommend getting more than one. We started with one.
Q: My cat chews on his nails, sometimes it looks like he's trying to pull his toes off. Is this normal?
A: Yes. They are self-grooming and cleaning their nails. Consider trimming their nails and make sure the whole cuticle area is nice and clean.
Q: Do naked cats get cold?
A: Yes. With the body temperature of 102, they’re warmer than us. In cold months, I put a heated throw on the couch and they flock to it if they need the extra warmth. A cat sweater is a good idea during cold months or when the A/C is cranked up.
Q: Is catnip bad for my cat?
A: Catnip is a completely harmless herb. Catnip is said to contain a chemical that resembles the scent of a substance released by whole females. You can even grow fresh catnip. It grows easily in the Summer, dries beautifully and they love it.
Q: Why does my naked cat knead me, with his/her claws?
A: Just like purring, kneading is a sign of happiness. It is a throwback to when they were kittens. Kittens knead at their mother's teats to speed the flow of milk. Purring usually accompanies kneading. Adult cats normally knead when sitting on a favorite person's lap or settling down to sleep.
Because Sphynx, and other naked cats, do not have fur to absorb the natural oils from their skin they will require periodic bathing. The build up of oils in their coat will collect dirt and dust from their surroundings making them dirty. Depending on the amount of oils secreted from the cat, and the cleanliness of its surroundings, will determine the frequency of bathing. Some Sphynx need bathed more often than others. It's important not to over-bathe your cat, as it can strip them of their natural moisturizers causing an increase in oil production. I bathe my cats every month or two.
Bath time should be fun for cat and owner alike. Because bathing is a routine part of having a hairless cat, it should be introduced to kittens young and made as stress free as possible. Run your bath or sink water before bringing your cat into the room. Most nakeds tolerate bathing well, but if your cat is stressed by the experience, make bath time as quick as possible and wash their face and ears after you take them out of the water. Avoid getting soap into your cat’s eyes, ears or mouth. We train our clients how to wash their kittens. If they are vehemently opposed to giving baths, there is dry shampoo available. Using a warm washcloth works well too.
Sphynx ears lack internal hair. Without hair to absorb the wax, it may be visible once accumulated in the ear. They will need cleaned in conjunction with bath time approximately once a month. A couple drops of a natural ear cleaner will make your cat shake its head and dislodge the earwax so that it can be easily removed with a cotton ball or Q-tip. Be very careful when cleaning their ears, and clean only as far in as you can see.
Claws & Paws
Naked cats will get dirt between their pads and in the pockets of their claws. The kitten will get better at cleaning its paws as it gets older. Paws can be cleaned out with a warm wash cloth, baby wipe or just via finger. Cleaning of the paws should done in conjunction with their bath. I also keep Kleenex next to where I sit and wipe their claws while watching TV at night, when the cats are comfy and cozy, sleeping on my lap.
The claws (front and back) will need to be clipped. In most cats you can see the quick inside the claw and you must be very careful not to clip on or beyond it. Begin by clipping off just the tip of the claw you can avoid causing your pet pain. We offer tips and practice when the kittens head home.
SoftClaws have been a great asset if kittens try to scratch furniture. Sphynx are incredibly smart, and will respond to a firm “NO!”, or the addition of a squirt of water. It doesn’t take long for them to learn what’s acceptable and what is not. Declawing a cat is handicapping by amputation their finger at the middle knuckle. Declawing will keep the cat from playing with its toys, throwing toys up in the air, and batting them around. It can also lead to your cat not covering their urine and feces, leaving their waste just sitting on top of the litter.
You must provide your cat with a constant, always accessible, supply of cat food and water. Due to their higher metabolism (to keep their body temperature constant) they tend to eat a little more than a haired cat. Using a premium pet food will limit the amount and smell of the kitties poos. Some people feed their cats a raw diet. Personally, I found my cats did not like it and resulted in one case of e coli. This has to be a very personal decision that I recommend researching before committing. If you choose to change a kittens diet after adoption, we ask that you do so slowly. Switching quickly will result in gas or loose stools.
Of course the hairless cat is an indoor cat only - they sunburn! They also lack a thick coat, which is a form of protection when outside. If you want to take your cat outside, keep their time in the sun limited, and always have them on a leash. The general rule of thumb is...if you are comfortable they usually are too. However, if they get a chill, they are clever enough to find a warm spot under a blanket or curl up with another pet. During cooler months, a heating pad or electric blanket is GREATLY appreciated by your hairless cat.
The Sphynx, Elf, Dwelf and Bambino cats appears to be a hairless cat, although they are not truly hairless. Their skin should have the texture of Chamois leather. It may be covered with very soft hair that is often described as peach fuzz. Because the naked cats have no little to no hair to keep them warm they prefer to cuddle up against other animals and people, they even tend to cuddle up and sleep with their owners under the covers. Lack of coat makes the cat quite warm to the touch. Whiskers and eyebrows may be present, either whole or broken, or may be totally absent. Their skin is the color their fur would be, and all the usual cat marking patterns (solid, point, van, tabby, tortie, etc) may be found in nakeds too. It takes a whole year for the kittens color to bloom.
Naked cats generally have wedge-shaped heads and sturdy, heavy bodies. Many cats of this breed develop pot bellies. They are known for their extroverted behavior. They display a high level of energy, intelligence, curiosity, and affection for their owners.
Although Sphynx, or other hairless cats, are sometimes thought to be hypoallergenic due to their lack of coat, this is not always the case. Allergies to cats can be triggered by dander, and not cat hair itself. It is our recommendation that if you are allergic to cats, visit our or a local Sphynx home and hug, rub and kiss all over a cat to see if your allergies are activated.
Maintaining regular vet visits and up-to-date immunizations will ward off most illnesses that would affect any cat. In general, the breed is very hardy with a normal cat’s lifespan. Neutering and spaying, providing an outlet for play, and the natural behavior of scratching (such as a scratching post), are essential elements for maintaining a healthy long life. Sphynx and other naked cats have been know to live twenty years or longer. The oldest Sphynx we've know was named Grandpa, a Sphynx that reportedly lived to 34 years old. Grandpa had an abnormal diet of broccoli and bacon. Bacon and broccoli aren't recommended foods for Sphynx however.
Q: How old are the kittens when they go home?
The average age is 12 weeks, as it's vital the kitten has an opportunity to build a strong immune system. Sometimes we keep the kittens a little longer if they're tiny or had any reactions to their vaccinations. Delays can be as much as three to four weeks. We'll keep you updated along the way.
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