​Russian Fairy Tale that has Conquered the World

Photo of: Maksimiliana Magic Leksy Best of Breed DSX 2014, owned by Elena Vygonnaya

These cats evoke an incredible spectrum of feelings varying from absolute disapproval to unconditional adoration. Some people call them unattractive or even ugly, but others... Others are ready not to let the hot body with soft and tender skin out of their hands for 24 hours a day and constantly look to huge, alien eyes. Precisely these other people are true connoisseurs and lovers, because only a person with perfect taste and delicate soul is able to love the Don Sphynx with his whole heart. These cats are aliens who have got to our sinful Earth right from the Cat Space where there always reigns beauty and harmony in this best world...

The history of the Don Sphynx is amazing and resembles a magic fairy tale – it is in such fairy tales, where good always wins and love and care are able to work a real miracle. This breed of hairless cats with exotic appearance got its name thanks to the Russian city Rostov-on-Don, where it emerged in the middle of the 80s of the last century. Once in 1987, returning home in the evening, a lecturer of the Rostov-on-Don Medical Institute Elena Kovaleva saw a kitten of the blue-cream colour in the street. Having decided that this is an ordinary domestic cat which needed human love and tenderness, Elena brought her charming finding home and, as if having a presentiment that her good deed would be a beginning of a new breed which would be later called a pride of Russia and national treasure, she named this cat Varvara. As in Russian fairy tales:). Varvara grew up lively and playful – owners of Don Sphynxes know that these cats have such character – but it suddenly became naked in the age of approximately seven months. Of course, Elena thought this could be a sign of a disease, but did not reject her beloved pet. Moreover, she showed Varvara to her acquaintance felinologists – but unsuccessfully: the hairless cat did not leave any special impression.

Photo of: ZHULISA WHIM OF GODS, owned by N. Stoyanovich

Nevertheless the cat found in Rostov-on-Don was perhaps born with a silver spoon in her mouth: not she, but her kittens interested breeding specialists. In 1990 Varvara gave birth to three kittens from a European Shorthair male, and one of the newborns – the female Chita – got to Irina Nemykina who later became a felinologist known and respected not only in Russia but also abroad. It is she who is called - and fair enough - a creator of the Don Sphynx breed. Chita was completely hairless like her mother, and the fact that absence of hair was not a symptom of a disease, but an inheritable feature convinced Irina: this was a beginning of a new breed. Having assumed this honorary but difficult role of its "main breeder", Irina began the laborious and, alas, not always rewarding work on formation of the breed. It was not always rewarding because hairless Don cats won people's hearts not at once. But Russian selectionists did not give up: to strengthen viability and increase the total number of hairless Rostov "inhabitants", they crossbred them with representatives of other breeds, in particular, with the European Shorthair, using the so called method of "blood influx" only of aboriginal cats. But as we already know labour and love are able to work wonders: as a result of Irina Nemykina's and her followers' efforts we have a truly Russian aboriginal breed of cats today, which successfully develops – the Don Sphynx.

It took 12 years for Rostov-on-Don "Cinderellas" to conquer the world – 12 years passed from the Elena Kovaleva's merciful deed to the first world title received by the Don Sphynx: in 2000 a cat nicknamed Vityaz Myth became the World Champion in accordance with the WCF system. By the way, this organization was the first of the world felinological systems to recognize the new Russian breed. It happened in 1988, a year after the major success of Don cats at the World Cat Show in Moscow. This meant international recognition. Of course, in Russia people noticed the breed earlier: for the first time Don Sphynx cats were presented at a show held by the Russian Felinological Association in 1993. By the way, this show was also historically important – it was the first show of Russian aboriginal breeds in the history.

Photo of: Barbie Magic Leksy owned by E. Vygonnaya

For those who are really interested in the breed, there is a detailed consultation of Elena Sergeevna Vygonnaya, the owner of the Don Sphynx cattery "Magic Leksy" (Novosibirsk).

Breed index: DSX

General appearance: A medium-size cat with solid bones. The skin is soft, warm and smooth to the touch. There is sexual dimorphism. Cats are very active and friendly.

Head: The head is wedge-shaped with well-developed cheek bones and eye brows. Eyeballs are prominent. The forehead is flat with many vertical wrinkles diverging above the eyes. The nose is of medium length and straight, the transition to the forehead must be prominent. The muzzle is of medium length and rounded with developed whisker pads; the chin is firm. Fangs are long; they can be seen from under the upper lip. Whiskers are curly, thick, but may be broken or lacking.

Ears: The ears are large, with rounded tip, highly set and slightly tilted forwards. The outer edge of the ears continues the vertical lines of the cheekbones. The distance between the ears is not larger than an ear's width.

Eyes: The eyes are medium sized, almond-shaped or oval and set at a slight slant. All eye colours are permitted.

Neck: The neck is elegant, long and strong.

Body: The body is of medium length, solid, muscular, firm, with a wide croup. A deep flank line, solid bones.

Legs: The legs are long and elegant. The forearms are straight, toes are long and movable.

Tail: The tail is long, straight, strong and flexible.

Coat and skin: The skin is elastic; prominent skin wrinkles are on the head, the neck, the armpits and the groin. Legs, paws, tail and muzzle may be covered with slight coat up to 2 mm. Hairless cats are preferred. Whiskers are desired. The legs, the tail and the muzzle of young animals may be covered with slight coat which should disappear by the age of 2 years. Don Sphynxes can sometimes have hair: the following varieties are possible: flock and brush. Flock Sphynxes have velvet fleece on all their bodies, which looks like separate small hairs. Brush Sphynxes (bristly, fluff) have curled, often hard fleece all over the body. Completely hairless animals are preferred.

Colour: Any colours are permitted.

Faults: A round or a narrow head. Small or low set ears, round eyes. A short, a weak, a light body. A short or an incorrect tail. A weak and slanting chin. Squint. Overshot bite of up to 2 mm with locked fangs.

Disqualification: Entropion, overshot bite of more than 2 mm.

Photo of: Kittens owned by N. Stoyanovich

The Don Sphynx is currently known and loved abroad, far from its "historical motherland". But could it be otherwise? Don Sphynxes are unusual, exotic, mysterious cats having almost extraterrestrial appearance. But, of course, their advantages include not only unusual appearance and even not only special grace which is typical of them. Don cats have surprising character: they are very tender, not aggressive, always jolly and playful. Owners of these “baldies" say Don Sphynxes are like small dogs and even… monkeys in terms of their character. You will never get bored with them! And of course, speaking about Don Sphynxes, it is worth repeating the fact, which is known to everyone – they suit people suffering from allergy to cat hair! In other words, absolutely any person can keep this exotic beauty at his home, love it and take care of it. Why do I want to repeat it again and again? Because this kind of allergy is unfortunately very widespread, and parents often have to deny their children to purchase a kitten, about whom they dream, precisely for this reason. Sometimes couples and even families split because of allergy, if one of the partners cannot bear cat hair. In such cases there is an excellent (and even the only one!) way out – to adopt a hairless cat. And, since we speak about the Don Sphynx today... believe me, it will become an excellent companion for games of your kids, your favourite "hot-water bag" in evenings, and at the same time it will not damage health of your family members.

The Don Sphynx is a real Russian fairy tale where real People and beautiful Cats live together, tenderly love each other and protect each other against disasters and diseases. And this fairy tale continues...

Photo of: W.Ch. Kleopatra Imperia Zvezd, owned by Boris Arzhevitin

Owners of Don Sphynxes tell about their favorite pets as follows:

"The Don Sphynx is not still a man, but not a cat already! And moreover, this is warmth, love, care, devotion, and grace..." - Victoria Klabukova ( Kirov, Russia), an owner of Sharhan de Vikki, Best Neuter DSX 2014.

Photo of: Sharhan de Vikki - Best Neuter DSX 2014, owned by Victoria Klabukova

"The Don Sphynx is a huge heart in a small fragile body, which is full of love. And the Don Sphynx spreads this love around, presents it, and shares it with everyone it contacts with! One cannot remain indifferent, having met this beautiful unearthly creature someday!" –Natalia Shustova (Kirov, Russia), an owner of J.Ch. Аmaterasu Shudan - Best Junior DSX 2014.

Photo of: Аmaterasu Shudan - Best Junior DSX 2014, owned by Natalia Shustova

"The Don Sphynx means absolute trust to a person and endless love! When a Don Sphynx embraces the neck with its soft paws and purrs its songs right to an ear, you forget about everything! The Don Sphynx will find an approach to any family member and make love it in the first minutes of communication! The velvet, hot and folded coat of the Don Sphynx includes a tender child, a funny monkey, and a devoted and a clever dog simultaneously". - Galina Ashmarina ( Kirov, Russia), an owner of Don Galina Bingo - Best Opposite Sex Kitten of Breed DSX 2014.

Photo of: Don Galina Bingo - Best Opposite Sex Kitten of Breed DSX 2014 (Russia), owned by Galina Ashmarina

"The Don Sphynx is a young cat breed. They have left no one indifferent to their appearance and conquered everyone with their "unearthly" look and wonderful character, having become a very popular breed. The Sphynx has appeared, examined us with its mysterious glance and won our hearts. And no wonder: because these cats have only advantages. All the wonderful features of cats are present in the Don Sphynx". - Natalia Stoyanovich ( Moscow, Russia), an owner of a cat named Luchezarny Perso Chudo Don, Best Junior Opposite Sex DSX 2014.

Photo of: Luchezarnyi Perso Chudo Don - Best Junior Opposite Sex DSX 2014, owned by N. Stoyanovich

"- Only two Don Sphynxes can be better than one Don Sphynx! Or better three!

–The Don Sphynx is not an animal. Well, think yourselves: how can one call a being that is tender as a cat, devoted as a dog and intelligent as a man, an animal? I cannot bring myself to say so.

– People say that the Don Sphynx comes from another planet. I cannot but agree with it.

– If I take a Don Sphynx in my arms, I do not want to let it go." –Boris Arzhevitin (Perm, Russia), an owner of a cat named Jasmine Of Big Papa - Best Baby of Breed DSX 2014.

Photo of: Jasmine Of Big Papa - Best Baby of Breed DSX 2014, owned by Boris Arzhevitin


"The body of the Don Sphynx is delicate, warm, and soft; it resembles a baby's body which one wants to caress. Even the Sphynx's paws are like child's hands. And, by the way, this breed gets on wonderfully with small children. It does not mean that Don cats are weak-willed – they are just tender, intelligent and kind, not rancorous. The Don Sphynx is an intelligent, noble animal, which does not allow itself to protract its claws, raise its voice, but only quietly and softly purrs...

This animal is perfectly adapted for pleasant coexistence with a person – I have long ago got convinced of it. Yes, people's attitude towards Don cats and to Sphynxes at all is not always friendly... It is impossible to be indifferent to them – you either like them or not. I have observed many times when a person touches a "baldy" with one finger, and then with all his palm... And, when he takes it in arms, he cannot conceal admiration and tenderness! And the animal behaves quietly and allows admiring itself. And how happy the children are, who have been permitted to at least touch such a cat!

And of course, they mean happiness for me. Well, how can you not like these unusual cats? The Don Sphynx is a wonderful "dog-cat" that immediately enters your soul and stays there forever. If you adopt the Don Sphynx someday, all other breeds will remain on the background for you:)".

Author: Elena Vygonnaya