New Breed: Longhair Sphynx
Please read the complete article before taking your stance on this new and intriguing breed which originates from Europe and on associated developments from Sphynx enthusiasts.
This new breed was recognised for exhibition 01/04/1999 by European registries. Due to recessive genes and a small gene pool in the Sphynx cat population (either recessive genes inherited from early outcrosses to non-Sphynx cats or a spontaneous mutation in a recessive gene) longhair kittens are sometimes born from Sphynx-Sphynx matings. This parallels the birth of Balinese and Somali cats which occurred spontaneously in litters of Siamese and Abyssinian cats respectively. For many years, Sphynx breeders have tried to hide their existence; often rehoming them as crossbred pets and claiming that they resulted from accidental matings of Sphynxes with other breeds. Several Sphynx breeders in Europe finally clubbed together in an attempt to have these elegant felines formally recognised.
Some breeders in The Netherlands are now working towards an intermediate form; the Shorthair Sphynx by outcrossings with suitable shorthaired breeds. This will also widen the gene pool. It is hoped that these cats will appeal to those people who dislike the idea of a completely hairless cat. The hairless variety will become known as the Traditional Sphynx.
Traditional Sphynx breeders, notably those in the USA, are incensed at these new developments are registries in that country are refusing to recognise the existence of Longhaired Sphynxes, claiming that they are manufactured crossbreds created for financial gain by European breeders. There is a persistent rumour (particularly among enraged American breeders of the Sphynx) that these cats originated from Persian-Sphynx crossings in an attempt to produce a hairless cat with the cobby body of the Persian as an alternative to the conformation of the standard Sphynx.
There is the risk that Sphynx cats of European origin may no longer be accepted by US registries because of the danger of the gene for longhair 'polluting' US Sphynx bloodlines. Far from accepting the designations Traditional Sphynx, Shorthair Sphynx and Longhair Sphynx; they are campaigning to keep the Sphynx (as bred in the USA) and the 'European Sphynx' strictly separate and not to be interbred.
These cats are the feline equivalent of the 'Powder Puff' version of Chinese Crested Dogs. They have thin, plumy long fur on the head around the ears stretching from the crown of the head to the shoulders, on the lower legs and on the tail (particularly at the tip of the tail). The fur on the body is thinner, sparser and generally less luxuriant than that at the points. The face and muzzle are covered in a thin fuzz like the down on a peach and the whiskers are much finer than those on a normally furred cat and curl downwards in an elegant fashion.
The conformation is the same as for the normal Sphynx. Unlike the thick dense coat of a Persian, the fur is easily maintained but benefits from a brushing two or three times a week. Care must be taken not to over-brush the fur which is fine and can break.
The Longhair Sphynx is currently found in the same colours as the Traditional Sphynx. Colours which indicate Siamese/Oriental origin are not currently accepted. Being due to a recessive gene, two Longhair Sphynxes will always produce longhair kittens when mated.
In addition to the Longhair Sphynx, there are plans to extend the Traditional Sphynx range to encompass the Swedish 'Bengal Sphynx', the 'Si-Sphynx', the bobtailed 'Bob-Sphynx' and the 'Spanx' (hairless Manx). Plans for a short-legged Sphynx the 'Minx' are on hold because no Munchkin breeder is currently willing to provide breeding cats for this breeding programme. However, one Polish breeder said with great foresight 'One day, many breeds will be found in choices of shorthair, longhair or hairless versions. This is exciting news for cat-lovers who don't like cat fur all over their clothes and soft furnishings.'
Because this new addition to the array of longhaired cats is still technically a Sphynx it has gained preliminary recognition as 'Longhaired Sphynx' and will ultimately compete in the Hairless Cats section of cat-shows. Despite its long coat, under registry rules, the Longhair Sphynx is still classed as a hairless cat because its ancestors are hairless.
Because the fur is so fine, it is advisable to wash a Longhair Sphynx several days before a show to give the fur time to 'settle', otherwise it becomes very 'fly-away' and attracts static electricity. A safe hair-conditioner can reduce static and help keep the fur under control. The fur is closer in structure to the fine hair of a human baby in texture (supporting the idea that it is a spontaneous mutation). NB: A Longhair Sphynx kept purely as a pet will probably never require washing, except to remove a contaminant from its fur.
There are currently no photos of the Longhair Sphynx published on the Web or in cat magazines.
All Longhair Sphynx in the breeding programme can trace their ancestry back to the foundation stud cat 'April Fool's Joke'.
(This article is adapted from an April Fool's Day story on cat fanciers mailing lists)
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