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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > Donskoy Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Donskoy Cat Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Donskoy cat standing on stones

If you’re looking for a unique cat, the Donskoy is a breed to behold. They’re also called the Don Sphynx, and they are an affectionate and loyal breed hailing from Russia. As a hairless cat breed, they have unique care needs, but their distinctive personalities make them adaptable to many different living situations.

Breed Overview


11 – 12 inches


6 – 12 pounds


12 – 15 years


Hairless, variety of skin colors

Suitable for:

Anyone seeking an affectionate, loyal, non-shedding cat


Affectionate, intelligent, loyal, friendly, outgoing, sociable with people and animals

Donskoy cats aren’t just for anyone. Since they are hairless, these cats sunburn easily and have little cold tolerance. This makes them temperature sensitive, even when kept indoors. Donskoy owners often find that these cats need a wardrobe of their own, with coats to keep them warm.

The International Cat Association only began to recognize Donskoy cats as a distinctive breed in 2005. This means many cat enthusiasts and potential owners have yet to discover the breed. Let’s explore this breed in-depth and find out what makes the Donskoy such an amazing cat!

Donskoy Cat Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


Donskoy Kittens

donskoy kitten
Image by: Kekyalyaynen, Shutterstock

Donskoy cats have unique looks and unique personalities. While it might be hard to imagine not taking one of these adorable kittens home, it’s important to understand that this cat breed is not suitable for every owner. They have unique care requirements that should be taken into consideration.

If you’re looking for an indoor cat, the Donskoy is a good choice. Their hairlessness makes them unsuitable for the outdoors. The Donskoy’s lack of hair means they don’t require grooming, and they don’t shed, which is a huge bonus for many. However, this doesn’t make them maintenance-free. Donskoy cats will need regular baths to wipe down their skin and keep it clean. While many believe that hairless cats are hypoallergenic, this is not true. The cat dander known for triggering allergies comes from a cat’s skin, not their fur. Still, they are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction because it is easier to clean dander off of a hairless cat.

Donskoy cats are known for having a “dog-like” personality. They are incredibly social and love attention. Make sure you will be able to commit the time that these cats deserve before adopting one as a pet.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Donskoy Cat

The Donskoy cat is often noticed for the fact that their personality resembles a dog’s more than a cat’s. They are in a class of their own about intelligence and sociability. While they aren’t opposed to a good nap once in a while, their energy abounds, and they require plenty of attention from their owners.

As far as trainability, the Donskoy can easily be taught to do tricks and follow basic commands. They form tight bonds with their family members and are incredibly loyal. They don’t do well being alone for long periods and will thrive in homes where family members are home for much of the day. When they are with their family, Donskoy cats are fairly easygoing and happy to tag along in whatever activities that you are doing.

a pregnant Donskoy Sphinx cat is sleeping
Image by: Azovsky, Shutterstock

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

This is a fantastic choice of cat breed for families, but it’s important that your family can meet the attention demands that the Donskoy requires. If you’re looking for an independent cat that doesn’t require much interaction, this is not the right breed for you. On the other hand, if you want an indoor cat that is a loyal companion, the Donskoy is a great choice.

Since the Donskoy is a rare breed, they are often the target of cat thefts. This, combined with their inability to regulate their body temperature, means they must be kept indoors at all times.

This cat breed loves children and will enjoy spending time with them and learning new things. They are tolerant of young children as long as they are taught not to be too rough with the cat.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Donskoy cats are sociable with people and other animals. However, this friendship does not extend to other cats. While they are capable of adapting to life with another Donskoy, they are not at all accommodating of sharing their space or family with other cat breeds.

Dogs are another matter. Donskoy cats enjoy the company of well-mannered canines that have been appropriately introduced. They will happily engage in play with dogs that can be gentle.


Things to Know When Owning a Donskoy Cat

Donskoy cats have unique needs. It’s important to make sure you are equipped to adequately meet their needs before bringing one home.

Food & Diet Requirements

Donskoy cats do best on high-protein food. While their food requirements aren’t unique, they need more food than the average cat of the same size, particularly during the winter months. Donskoy cats expend extra energy trying to maintain their body temperature, so they need to eat more to compensate.

In most cases, it is recommended to feed cat food at the rate stated by the manufacturer. But this is not always enough food for a Donskoy cat, and they may need extra. If you are concerned about overfeeding or underfeeding your Donskoy, talk to your veterinarian about their nutritional needs. They will be able to help you develop a diet plan to meet your cat’s specific requirements.

Donskoy cat tri color
Image by: borisenkoket, Shuttterstock

Exercise 🐈

Donskoy cats have high energy levels, which means they need to run and play and interact with their owners regularly. Having plenty of toys available, along with climbing towers and perches, will help ensure that your cat is sufficiently stimulated and able to burn off excess energy.

Keeping a Donskoy entertained can be challenging; catnip toys, electronic toys, and food puzzles are all great ways to keep them busy. Rotating toys is a good idea to prevent boredom and maintain their interest.

Training 🧶

The Donskoy is a great choice if you’re looking for a cat that’s easy to train. Since they love to spend time with their owners and are intelligent, Donskoy cats can learn commands like “sit,” “wave,” and “high five” and be taught to leash walk. They are willing partners and ready to learn anything that you want to teach them.

If you wish to leash walk your Donskoy outside, you will need to adequately prepare them for the weather. This means applying sunscreen in the heat and wearing a coat or cat sweater in the cold. If you are mindful about keeping them safe, your cat will be happy to go on daily outdoor walks!

Donskoy cat
Image by: Viachaslau Herostratos, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Since they’re hairless, the grooming routine for a Donskoy doesn’t resemble that of most other cat breeds. Their skin produces oils and dander and will need to be wiped off every day to prevent build-up. Monthly baths are recommended, but bathing too often will encourage their skin to become oilier.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Skin issues
  • Sunburn
  • Skin wounds
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Gum and tooth diseases
Serious Conditions

The Donskoy cat is a fairly healthy breed, but there are a few minor conditions that they are prone to developing that potential owners should be aware of.


Male vs. Female

If you’ve decided that the Donskoy is the perfect cat for you, the only thing left to decide is whether to get a male or female. There aren’t any significant differences between the sexes.

When it comes to Donskoy cats, personalities are based on the individual. Both sexes are equally affectionate and loyal. The only notable difference is that males will grow slightly larger.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Donskoy Cat

1. They are wrinkled from the day that they’re born.

Along with having semi-hairless or hairless bodies, Donskoy cats are also covered in wrinkles. They have elastic skin that droops and sags and generally appears “too big” for their body. The result is that their skin collects in folds along their jowls, chin, and cheeks. These folds often extend onto their foreheads and ears, their tail, and the sides of their body. The more wrinkles this cat has, the better they conform to the breed standards.

2. They have four coat types.

The Donskoy is generally considered a hairless breed, but four distinctive coat types are attributed to the breed nonetheless.

  • Bald or rubber bald — This refers to a cat that is truly completely bald.
  • Velour coat — Kittens are born with a small bald patch on top of their heads. Their bodies have a short, wavy coat at birth, but it usually disappears by the age of 2.
  • Flock coat — Although they appear bald, a flock-coated Donskoy will have an extremely fine layer of “fuzz” covering their body. This often disappears as the cat ages.
  • Brush coat — A Donskoy with a brush coat is covered in wiry fur. They often have small bald patches along their neck, back, and head.

3. Their hairlessness is caused by a genetic mutation.

The Donskoy cat breed originated in Russia in 1984 from a rescued stray. The stray kitten lost her fur and did not grow it back, despite the best efforts of her rescuer. This cat went on to have a litter of her own that contained a mixture of hairless and haired cats. The cats with hair lost their hair over time, much like their mother.

A breeding program was developed, and all subsequent litters of cats descending from the original rescue cat were hairless. This was eventually found to be due to a single mutated gene that was passed down through generations. The new breed was called the Don Sphynx, in honor of the River Don, where the rescued cat, Vavara, was found, and in reference to the Sphynx cat, which is also hairless.

While the breed has been called the Russian Donskoy, the Russian Hairless, Don Sphynx, and Don Hairless, they were accepted as the Donskoy by the World Cat Federation in 1987. The International Cat Association recognized it as a distinctive breed in 2005.


Final Thoughts

The Donskoy cat is a unique, rare cat breed. They are almost dog-like in their loyalty, and their unique physical features are sure to be eye-catching. However, these cats aren’t for everyone. They can be demanding, and they have physical needs that are unique to the breed. They require homes where their needs can be met and they will receive adequate attention. Still, their personality ensures that you’ll never have a dull moment with this cat.

Featured Image Credit: Kekyalyaynen, Shutterstock

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