History of the Sphynx
Hairless cats have spontaneously occurred in many places including the United States, Canada, Australia, and France. In 1902, Mr. Shinick in Albuquerque, New Mexico, acquired two hairless cats from local Pueblo Indians. These two cats were brother and sister, Nellie and Dick, and were never bred. In 1950, two hairless kittens were reportedly born of Siamese parents in Paris, France. On January 30, 1966, in Ontario, Canada, a normally coated domestic black and white female, Elizabeth, produced a hairless black male kitten named Prune.
Nellie & Dick
The beginning of the Sphynx breed, as we know it today, began in June of 1978 in Toronto, Canada, when a Siamese breeder, Shirley Smith, was called upon to rescue two abandoned kittens born of a domestic short hair female. One of these kittens was a domestic longhair female and the other a hairless black and white male, Bambi. Bambi’s story was told in the May 1985 issue of Cats Magazine. He was found on the streets of Toronto. By the time he was rescued by Shirley Smith, he was in pretty bad shape. His left eye had been punctured in three places and his genitalia were so badly mutilated that everything had to be removed. Bambi eventually ended up with Linda Birks of Aztec Cattery. He was the oldest Sphynx on record at the time, as he passed away in June of 1997 at the age of 19 due to chronic ulcerative colitis. Bambi never produced any kittens of his own, but he helped greatly to propel the Sphynx into the public eye with the Cats Magazine article.
Bambi’s mother later produced two hairless female kittens out of two different males in 1979 and 1980. These two girls, named Paloma and Punkie, were sent to Dr. Hugo Hernandez in Holland. Punkie was later bred to a white Devon Rex male, Curare van Jetrophin, which produced a litter of five kittens.
Punkie & Paloma
In 1975, a domestic short hair brown tabby female, Jezabelle, gave birth to a female hairless kitten named Epidermis on a farm owned by Milt and Ethelyn Pearson in Wadena, Minnesota. A year later, Jezabelle again gave birth to a female hairless kitten named Dermis. In 1981, the Pearsons reluctantly sold the two hairless girls to Kim Mueske of Z. Stardust Cattery.
Jezabelle & Epidermis
Shortly thereafter, Kim attempted to breed the girls with a blue-eyed white American Shorthair, CFA GRC Sailaway Willie. Epidermis and Dermis produced seven kittens between them, all normal-coated. After three years had passed, Kim again tried with an American Shorthair named Red. Epidermis produced two normal-coated male kittens. Upon the advice of Dr. Solveig Pflueger, she bred one of the males, Z. Stardust Sneezy, back to his mother and was rewarded with three hairless kittens. In 1986, Kim planned to have Epidermis spayed, but she had other ideas. Cantaur’s Hercules of Z. Stardust, a red spotted tabby Devon Rex who was also scheduled to be neutered, and Epidermis had one last fling resulting in a litter that produced the foundation queen, SGC Z. Stardust’s Winnie Rinkle of Rinkurl, OD, TICA’s first Outstanding Dam Sphynx. Winnie passed away in March of 2002 at the age of 16, after a long battle with breast cancer. She is prominent in many Sphynx pedigrees today. In 1989, Dermis passed away at the age of 13, and in 1991, Epidermis passed away
at the age of 16.
Mrs. Georgiana Gattenby of Jen Jude Cattery, also in Minnesota, was working with hairless cats too. Her three foundation cats, Jen Jude King Tutt , Jen Jude Sheba, and Jen Jude Cleopatra, were acquired from Mrs. Pearson in the fall of 1978. On April 28, 1979, Jen Jude King Tutt and Jen Jude Sheba presented Mrs. Gattenby with her first hairless kitten, Jen Jude Different. Mrs. Gattenby sold her last two remaining cats, Jen Jude Yoda II and Jen Jude Girlie, to Brenda S. Pena in 1985 and 1986. Mrs. Gattenby was not in good health sadly, and died shortly thereafter. After repeated attempts, Jen Jude Yoda II and Jen Jude Girlie produced a litter of kittens in 1988. Two of them, CH Brenda’s Bathsheba of Rinkurl and particularly QGC RW Brenda’s Nefertiti of Rinkurl, OD, can also be found in many Sphynx pedigrees today.
In 1986, Walt and Carol Richards of Britanya Cattery in San Antonio, Texas, bred their Devon Rex female Britanya’s Aida Lott to European International Grand Champion (IGC) Chnoem de Calecat, which produced a litter of four. These four, SGC Britanya’s Lady Godiva, QGC Britanya’s Lord E I’m Naked, OS, TGC Britanya’s Baroness Quizzit, and CH Britanya’s Gremlin of Petmark, were exhibited as kittens at the INCATS show in Anaheim, California, in July of 1986 where they created quite the sensation. SGC Britanya’s Lady Godiva went on to become TICA’s first Supreme Grand Champion Sphynx and TICA’s first International Best of Breed Sphynx, and QGC Britanya’s Lord E I’m Naked, OS, became TICA’s first Outstanding Sire Sphynx. Britanya cats figure quite prominently in many pedigrees of today’s Sphynx.
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