Hairless Cat Breeds and How to Care for Them


Ru Chen

- Updated March 14, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Popular hairless breeds include Sphynx, Peterbald, Donskoy, and Bambino
  • Hairless cats are prone to sunburn, ear infections, and other health conditions
  • Pet insurance offsets high vet expenses of treating a hairless cat
Hairless Cat Breeds and How to Care for Them

Hairless cat breeds are endearing, affectionate, and great for those who have cat allergies. Each breed has its own physical characteristics, temperament, and unique needs. From the charming Peterbald to the elegant Sphynx, hairless cats make for wonderful, unique companions.

It’s important to know how to groom and take into account each breed’s traits. Let’s go over the most popular hairless cat breeds, how to care for them, and the best pet insurance for hairless cats.


Sphynx Cats

With their distinctive wrinkly appearance, Sphynx cats are the most well-known hairless cat breed. They are a robust but cuddly breed that can live between 8 to 14 years.

Origin and history of the breed

Sphynx cats originated in 1966 in Toronto, Canada, when a hairless kitten was born. The naturally occurring genetic mutation caught the attention of cat breeders, who began to selectively breed for this hairless characteristic.

Physical characteristics and temperament

Sphynx cats are affectionate companions. Their coat can be any color, though the most well-known is the peach-fuzz pink and lilac. Sphynx cats are extremely smart and energetic, so be prepared for frequent vocalizations and a need for social interaction.

Grooming needs and care requirements

Compared to other cats, Sphynx cats need more bathing and ear-washing due to their sparse coat. They can easily get sunburned, which means it’s important to buy cat-friendly sunscreen.

Sphynx cats are also prone to hereditary myopathy (which causes muscle weakness) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a dangerous heart disease. Make sure to take your Sphynx cat to the vet to see whether they have any underlying health conditions or risks.

Peterbald Cats

Background and development of the breed

Peterbald cats are a new cat breed from 1994 when a Russian cat breeder crossed a Don Sphynx with an Oriental shorthair. The breed got its name due to its immense popularity in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Variations in coat types and colors

Peterbald cats are either bald or covered in velvet fuzz. They vary in coat color and type, which means you can see Peterbalds with coats that are:

  • White
  • Black
  • Lilac
  • Gray
  • Red-orange

Personality traits and suitability as pets

Peterbald cats are intelligent and love to interact with their family, making them a fantastic choice as pets. These lovely cats are outgoing, friendly, and kid-friendly.

If you’re worried about shedding, Peterbald cats shed very little due to their minimal fur. This makes them an excellent feline companion for people with cat allergies.

Donskoy Cats

Origins in Russia and development of the breed

Donskoy cats are also called Don Sphynx and Russian Hairless cats. Donskoys were first found in Rostov-on-Don, Russia back in the 1980s. A professional breeder named Irina Nemikina rescued a hairless kitten that people scorned as unhealthy and undesirable. Nemikina began a breeding program that would confirm this hairlessness was a result of a genetic mutation and not an illness.

Over the next few years, Nemikina managed to develop a new breed of cats that she named the Don Sphynx cat. The breed was recognized by the International Cat Association in 2005.

Coat variations and care considerations

Don Sphynx cats have wrinkly skin, almond eyes, and a robust, muscular body. They have unique grooming needs because of their thin fur coat. The four main types of coat variations for Donskoy cats are: velour, brush, rubber bald, and flocked. Donskoy fur texture may be soft, wavy, bristly, or wiry.

Every month or two, it is necessary to give a Don Sphynx cat a full bath. Remember to use a gentle cat shampoo that won’t hurt the cat’s skin.

Temperament and compatibility with families

Donskoy cats are a good-natured breed. If you value playfulness and social interactions with your cat, Donskoy cats can be a great choice for your family. They are generally friendly to kids and other pets.

However, if you don’t have much time on your hands to interact and play with your cat, Donskoy cats might not be the ideal breed for you. With naturally high levels of curiosity, Donskoy cats thrive on interactive playtime and puzzle toys. A Donskoy cat without mental stimulation and attention can end up bored, downcast, and adopting behavioral issues.


Bambino Cats

Introduction to the breed and its unique characteristics

Bambino cats are a new crossbreed between the Sphynx cat with the small Munchkin cat. As such, they look like Sphynx cats with short legs, almost as if they were a bambino cat (the Italian word for “baby”). However, Bambino cats are prone to breed-specific health issues and pain due to their abnormal, short-legged anatomy.

In 2005, the Bambino breed arose from Stephanie and Pat Osborne of Arkansas. Because of the health issues faced by Bambino cats, the Cat Fanciers' Association discourages breeders from breeding more of them. While the International Cat Association recognizes Bambino cats as a breed, they are considered an experimental breed.

Physical traits and grooming requirements

Bambino cats are hairless cats with notably short legs. They have striking blue eyes with black, white, cream, fawn, or brown coats. Bambino cats may live up to 12 years, but their breed-specific conditions can make them prone to sickness and pain. Be careful of pectus excavatum (a caved-in breastbone), muscle weakness, and spinal issues in Bambino cats.

Even though Bambino cats are relatively hypoallergenic, they still do produce dander that can irritate those with allergies and sensitivities.

Bambino cats are susceptible to skin problems due to their skin that easily builds up excessive oil. To avoid skin problems, make sure you regularly bathe a Bambino cat. Wipe them down gently with a damp cloth to keep their coat clean.

Since Bambino cats are more likely to develop spine problems, it is even more important to keep an eye on their diet so they don’t become overweight. Feline obesity can worsen pressure on the spine.

Personality traits and interaction with owners

Bambino cats are affectionate and active, but not excessively energetic. They do have a high tendency to vocalize, which means you can be prepared for a loud household full of meows, especially when you play with a Bambino. Bambino cats are pet- and kid-friendly, which means they often do well in families.

Common Health Issues

If you want to care for a hairless cat breed, it is important to know the common health conditions that hairless cats face.

Skin infections

Hairless cats can be prone to skin infections and other skin problems. Excess oil buildup on a cat’s skin can cause red spots on the skin, infections, lesions, itchy patches, and other health problems.

Special cat shampoos can help you better maintain a healthy coat and skin.

Hereditary myopathy

Hereditary myopathy is an inherited condition that causes muscle weakness. It is commonly seen in Sphynx cats and can be diagnosed by analyzing muscle tissue samples at the vet. A cat with hereditary myopathy can have an abnormal gait, trouble walking, and inability to exercise normally. In severe cases, cats can struggle with swallowing properly, resulting in death by choking.

There is no cure for hereditary myopathy in cats, but prescribed medications can help reduce muscle stiffness and regurgitation.

Dental problems

Periodontal diseases and dental problems can be a serious issue for hairless cats. Make sure to perform regular brushing and dental cleanings to remove plaque and prevent gingivitis. A professional veterinarian's dental cleaning can be invaluable in protecting the dental health of your hairless cat.


Hairless cats, such as Sphynx and Peterbald cats, are particularly vulnerable to Solar Dermatitis, AKA sunburn. If your cat loves playing outdoors and gets overexposed to the sun, they could get skin cancer later down the line. To protect your kitty from skin cancer and sunburn, make sure to use a non-toxic, pet-safe suntan cream. Avoid letting your cat out when it is the sunniest.

Ear infections

Many hairless cats have larger ears than other breeds, which can make them susceptible to ear infections. Keep your cat’s ears healthy by cleaning and drying them using gauze and tissues. Don’t use cotton swabs that can cause eardrum damage.

Symptoms of ear infections in cats include:

  • Tilted head
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Yellow or dark discharge from the ear
  • Swollen, red ear canal

Finding Pet Insurance for Hairless Cats

Pet insurance helps provide financial protection for cat owners when it comes to paying vet bills and pet expenses. Throughout the lifespan of a hairless cat, pet insurance can reimburse hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, helping pet owners save tons of money that can go towards other essentials and goals.

Factors to consider when selecting pet insurance

Premium: This is the monthly cost of your insurance policy. Cat insurance costs around $30 a month.

Deductible: The deductible refers to how much you need to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance policy provides coverage for the rest. A higher deductible lets you choose a lower premium, but you will need to first pay more upfront whenever you want to file an insurance claim.

Coverage details: It’s a good idea to buy comprehensive pet insurance that covers your cat’s breed-specific, genetic health conditions. Consider your cat’s needs and your financial situation when shopping for cat insurance.

Coverage limit: Unless you have an unlimited pet insurance policy, there should be an annual or per-incident coverage limit. If your vet expenses go over this amount, the pet insurer will no longer cover the rest. It is advisable to choose an annual limit of $10,000, which is generally enough to cover vet expenses for a year.

Restrictions and exclusions: Pet insurance policies usually do not cover treatment costs for pre-existing conditions. Insurance providers may also have breed and age restrictions. If you have a hairless cat breed, be sure to look out for coverage restrictions.

Types of pet insurance coverage

There are three main types of coverage you might want for your hairless cat.

Accident-only coverage: Hairless cats can benefit from accident-only coverage, which provides reimbursements for swallowing toys, bites, lacerations, broken bones, and other accidents involving your cat.

Accident and illness: Also known as comprehensive coverage, accident and illness pet insurance covers both accidents and illnesses. Commonly covered expenses include treatment costs for health conditions, diagnostic tests, and medications.

Wellness plan and preventive care: This type of insurance add-on can be purchased to cover routine vet expenses that are typically excluded from standard pet insurance policies. Preventive care plans can cover vaccinations, dental cleanings, and spay/neuter costs.

Researching pet insurance providers

You can always review our latest list of best pet insurance companies. In our guides, we review and rank the different types of pet insurance coverage so you can conveniently uncover high-quality pet insurance providers. When it comes to obtaining coverage for a cat, our top recommendations include:

Coverage options for specific health concerns

When purchasing pet insurance, it is a good idea to verify whether your desired policy will cover your cat’s breed-specific conditions. Different cat breeds often have their own breed-specific, inherited health concerns. For example, Sphynx cats are susceptible to hereditary myopathy and sunburn, whereas Bambino cats are more likely to have skeletal issues.

If you find that the standard pet insurance policies don’t cover your cat’s needs, look for insurance riders and add-ons. These endorsements allow you to personalize your pet insurance coverage so that you can procure more suitable insurance for your hairless cat.



Hairless cat breeds include Sphynx, Peterbald, Donskoy, and Bambino cats. These lovable cats have nearly invisible, fuzzy hair and offer affectionate companionship. They’re great cat choices for those who seek a hypoallergenic breed due to allergies. When taking care of a hairless cat, keep the following in mind:

  • They are prone to sunburn and other breed-specific conditions
  • Low shedding and dander can still cause issues for sensitive individuals
  • Pet insurance can help you cover vet expenses

Early detection of health conditions and risks through health exams and diagnostic tests can help vets create better treatment and management plans for your hairless cat. Consider pet insurance to cover routine and emergency vet expenses so you can provide your cat the medical attention they need.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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