I have mixed feelings about hairless cats. The result of careful breeding of cats that were hairless as result of a spontaneous mutation, the breed itself strikes me as a demonstration of man’s willingness to sustain something that should not be. Fans of the breed tout its “natural mutation” origin as if that means hairlessness is not a defect, but there’s a reason we don’t see populations of these cats in the wild: cats without hair lack temperature control and basic skin protection.
There have been attempts to give these cats a backstory as a natural breed, but they were essentially unknown except as occasional “natural mutations.” Their story feels to me like the story of companion animals in general – they are prized for their dependence on humans. The Sphynx, as the breed is called, has a reputation for being exceptionally affectionate, a “Love Mooch,” according to the profile at Cat Fanciers Association. Their skin is not completely smooth, having a very light hair. A hairless cat’s skin is generally described as similar to suede or chamois, and warm to the touch (although they can chill quickly). They look and feel so vulnerable, they are bound to trigger more than the usual parental protection feeling in people who encounter them.
The photosharing site, Flickr, can almost certainly take at least some credit for increasing the popularity of the breed. Cats are phenomenonal subjects, and hairless cats are some of the most visually interesting cats out there, sharing the physicial proportions of breeds like Siamese. They are often described by their owners as a “great conversation piece.”
I can’t fault anyone who goes to the trouble of getting a pet from a breeder for wanting to share pictures, at least, of their pet with the world, but it can be hard to find a picture of a hairless cat that doesn’t look frankly malevolent. I made an effort this week to look for a different angle. I looked for the curious, the snoozy, the engaged, the loving. They will always look odd to me, but after finding these pictures, and others like them, they do look a little more like the cats I’ve known and loved.