SPONTANEOUS MUTATIONS HAPPEN NATURALLY THROUGHOUT HISTORY!!!
by Arden Gatlin-Andrews, Angelfire Sphynx ©2008-2009
The Sphynx are one of the most visually memorable purebred cats known in the cat fancy to date. Representing the complete opposite of such breeds as the fluffy Persian or the mighty Maine Coon, the Sphynx can startle the eye at first glance. Whether the Sphynx inspire a squeamish or fascinated response, they will captivate your attention and possibly continue to hold it for the rest of your life!
Hairless cats have been reported throughout modern history. These cats are the products of a recessive gene that inhibits the normal growth of the feline coat. One of the earliest documentation of hairless cats comes from The Book of the Cat(Simpson, 1903), wherein Mr. Shinick of New Mexico acquired a pair of littermates from the Pueblo Native Americans in the area. He named the brother, Dick and the sister, Nellie.
Nellie & Dick (Simpson 1903)
The modern Sphynx comes from directly breeding a handful of hairless natural mutations to other, coated cats called outcrosses. As early as the 1960’s, hairless kittens were reported in Canada. In the mid-1970s a group of natural mutations from the Minnesota farm of Milt and Ethelyn Pearson were found and cultivated. Shirley Smith of Toronto, Ontario identified a group of hairless kittens found on the streets in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Simultaneous breeding programs in North America and Europe created the foundation of the breed as we know it today.
In 1966 a hairless kitten, Prune, was born to a normal coated housecat, Elizabeth. Dam and son went to Ryadh Bawa, whose mother, Mrs. Yania Bawa, was a local Siamese breeder. Prune was bred back to Elizabeth as well as to other domestic ourcrosses. Mr. & Mrs. Kees Tenhove acquired cats from these breedings, but suffered health setbacks within the line. The last traceable cats from this line include Mewsi-Kal Johnny, Mewsi-Kal Starsky and Prune's Epidermis.
Elizabeth of Prune, Dam of Prune (left) and Prune of Prune (right)
In 1978 and 1980 three kittens were discovered on the streets of Toronto by Shirley Smith. The first, Bambi, was neutered due to injuries he received while loose, the other two female kittens went to Dutch breeder Dr. Hugo Hernandez. After some sphynx to sphynx breeding failure between Mewsi-Kal Starsky and the two new female kittens, Dr. Hernandez crossed one of the kittens (Q. Punkie) to a Devon Rex (Curare van Jetrophin). Two male kittens from this breeding, Q. Ramses and Q. Ra (1982), were used along with Punkie’s half sister, Q. Paloma wherein Hathor De Calecat and, from another litter, Chnoem De Calecat were produced. These lines can then be traced to Tonia Vink of Ajahanda Cattery in Holland, Hanna Nathans of Calecat Cattery in France, Phillippe & Aline Noel of Amenophis Cattery also in France, and Janice Plumb & Angela Rushbrook of Amarogue/Shaird Cattery in Great Britain.
Bambi – older brother of Q. Punkie and Q. Paloma
Q. Paloma (left) and Q. Punkie (right)
Dr. Hernandez with Q. Ra
Hathor De Calecat
Two hairless kittens born to the Pearson’s domestic shorthair queen, Jezabelle, were placed with Kim Mueske of Z. Stardust Cattery in Oregon. These kittens were Epidermis (1975) and Dermis (1976). Ms. Mueske developed the breed by using American Shorthair outcrosses over the next five years.
Pearson's Jezabelle with hairless kitten Epidermis in 1975 – photo: E. Pearson
Georgiana Gattenby of Jen-Jude Cattery in Minnesota also acquired other Pearson cats that were outcrossed to Cornish Rex. The progeny of who went to Brenda Pena of Winelocket Cattery, New York and were then incorporated into the Rinkurl Cattery program by Lisa Bressler.
OTHER NATURAL MUTATIONS:
Desert Storm of Gunzhof (Pat Stevenson, New York), Gidget Goes Naked of Kattewyk (Donna Roberds, Arkansas), George Burns of Jinjorbred (Sherry Jordan, Arizona), Hari of Grandpaws (Pat Depew, Mississippi), the Mexican Natural (Dr. Sierra Bernal, Mexico) and Audrey from Galveston, Texas.
THE CAT FANCY:
In 1970, The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) accepted the new breed under the Provisional status. Not long after, due to the limited number of cats and health concerns with that particular line, the breed was moved back to Experimental only, thus showing as Exhibition for the next twenty plus years. The breed was resubmitted in Miscellaneous class, finally to enter Championship in 2002. The first Sphynx Grand Champion in CFA was GC, RW Majikmoon Mo Lesta. The International Cat Association (TICA) accepted the Sphynx into Championship status in 1985 and in 1987 Britanya's Lady Godiva became the first TICA Supreme Grand Champion and Best International Sphynx.