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Home > Cats > How Much Do Sphynx Cats Smell? Vet-Reviewed Tips & FAQ

How Much Do Sphynx Cats Smell? Vet-Reviewed Tips & FAQ

Sphynx with different eye color

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sphynx cats have a bit of a reputation for being smelly, even when they are clean. However, they aren’t that smelly and have more of an unusual earthy smell (which sets them apart from other cats). This is because any dirt or bacteria, that would ordinarily be deflected by fur, accumulates on their skin. This can make them smellier than your average cat, but that doesn’t mean all of them are smelly.

Providing them with the right sort of grooming regime can help prevent their skin from building up bacteria or becoming too smelly. Sphynx cats will still have a different odor than other cats, but it shouldn’t be unpleasant.

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Why Is My Sphynx Cat Smelly?

Sphynx cats can get smelly for a range of different reasons. However, sudden or significant smelliness can be caused by an underlying health problem. Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Skin infections: Sphynx cats are prone to skin infections because of their hairlessness. Cat skin can be quite delicate, and when not protected by fur,the skin is more exposed and susceptible to damage or infection. In addition to producing an unpleasant olfactory experience, bacterial infections can cause redness, itching, sores, and bumps. These infections usually need veterinary care.
  • Ear infections: These felines are also prone to ear infections, which can also be quite smelly. You need to take your cat to the vet if their ears become smelly, itchy, or inflamed, as antibiotics are usually required to treat the infection.
  • Anal gland problems: Felines have anal glands that secrete a smelly substance that they use to communicate with other cats. Typically, bowel movements keep these glands from becoming impacted. However, problems can occur that may prevent them from emptying naturally, leading to impaction and infection. As you might imagine, this can cause significanthealth issues and be very smelly.
  • Other health issues: Many other health issues may also cause your cat to become smelly that aren’t restricted to the Sphynx breed, such as dental disease, kidney disease or diabetes may lead to changes in odor.
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How to Prevent Your Sphynx Cat from Being Smelly

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent your Sphynx cat from becoming smelly.

1. Bathe them regularly

Most cats don’t need baths,however, Sphynx cats often require regular bathing to remove excess oil and dirt. Use a mild, conditioning shampoo to avoid drying out the skin. If your Sphynx is prone to dry skin, use a conditioner instead of a shampoo. Be sure to dry them thoroughly, as they do not have the fur necessary to help them stay warm. NEVER use human shampoos on your Sphynx as the pH levels of our shampoo is different to their needs, and can cause skin irritation.


2. Clean their ears

Your Sphynx may need their ears cleaned regularly, but this varies somewhat from cat to cat. Never put anything into your cat’s ear canal. Instead, you should only use a cotton ball and clean the areas you can see. Sometimes, cats may need a special ear cleaner to gently clean their ears. You can use q tips or cotton buds to very carefully and gently remove dirt and grime from the nooks and crannies surrounding the entrance to the ear canal. Never put the cotton tip into the ear canal.

person cleaning the ears of sphynx cat
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

3. Brush their teeth

Sphynx cats need regular dental care to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Otherwise, they may develop dental problems and bad breath. You should use a soft brush and cat-friendly toothpaste to brush their teeth weekly. Providing them with dental chews, toys and food can also help to keep their teeth in healthy condition.


4. Trim their nails

Sphynx cats need regular nail trimmings, as too-long nails can scratch their skin and lead to infection. You’ll need to use nail clippers and a file to trim their nails down, checking for any sign of injury or infection regularly. Be aware that scratching posts and cat trees will help keep their claws healthy, but will not wear them down.

woman trimming the nails of sphynx cat
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

5. Feed a healthy diet

You’ll need to feed your feline a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure their skin and immune system are properly supported. High-quality food can make a big difference in their smell and health, so it’s vital to invest in the proper food.


6. Feed supplements

Providing your Sphynx with essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as Omega-3 can really help maintain healthy skin, as well as improve their joint health. There are a wide range of supplements available to add to your kitty’s diet, and as most of them are fish-oil based, it’s not difficult to convince them to eat it!

sphynx cat eating cat food
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

These felines can certainly be un-smelly pets if they are properly cared for. If you follow these steps and your cat is still smelly, you may want to visit the vet. There may be an underlying reason for their smelliness.

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How Often Should I Bathe My Sphynx Cat?

The frequency will depend largely on your cat’s lifestyle and activity level. Some cats will need a weekly bath, some less often. Try not to bathe them more than once a week, however, as this can cause too much disruption to normal oil production. If you have a particularly greasy cat, use a damp washcloth between baths to remove excess oil and dirt from the skin, or a waterless cat shampoo.

bathing sphynx cat
Image By: Svitlana Kriukova, Shutterstock

Are Sphynx Cats High-Maintenance?

Compared to other cats, Sphynx cats are pretty high-maintenance. You might have thought that having no fur would mean less grooming, but it’s actually the opposite! Despite being hairless, they require more grooming than other cats. That’s because they have a lot of body oils and no hair to absorb them. Therefore, the oils will build up on their skin and make them greasy, so they need regular bathing.

You will also need to protect them from the sun with sunscreen, which should be specifically formulated for cats. DO NOT use human sunscreen on cats as they usually contain ingredients that will be toxic if they lick them, such as zinc. Cat sunscreens are more difficult to find, but they are out there. Some people also use lightweight pet-suits for sun protection in the summer. You also need to provide them with extra warmth in the winter. Many Sphynx cats need to wear jumpers and coats in colder climates, and will naturally seek out the warmest spots in the house, probably under the covers of your bed.

Are Sphynx Cats Hypoallergenic?

Yes, but also, no. There is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat, but there are some breeds, even some individuals, that produce less of an allergic reaction than others. It is a common misconception that hairless cats will be hypoallergenic because they don’t have fur, but people who are allergic to cats are not usually allergic to the fur itself, but to the proteins found in cat saliva and scent glands.

There are certain breeds that cause less of an allergic response, either due to reduced shedding, such as with the hairless breeds, or due to their lower levels of the allergy-producing protein. If you are allergic to cats, a hairless breed like the Sphynx might be an ideal option, as the lack of shedding, combined with regular grooming, will make them as close to hypoallergenic as you can get.

sphynx cat kitten
Image By: David Tadevosian, Shutterstock

Are Sphynx Cats Healthy?

Apart from their high maintenance skin regime, Sphynx cats are generally quite healthy. The main health issue that is prevalent in this breed is a heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, where the muscle of the ventricular wall becomes thickened, affecting heart function. This is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and is believed to have a genetic component, which makes it more prevalent in some breeds more than others.

Sphynx cats are also very playful and intelligent, so they need more companionship and stimulation than many other cat breeds. They love spending time with people and other pets, including dogs. They need attention, affection, and interaction to prevent boredom or depression. So if you are looking for a cat that is likely to shower you with kisses and demand your undivided attention, and you don’t mind a bit of maintenance, the Sphynx might be just what you need.

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Final Thoughts

Sphynx cats are considerably more high-maintenance than other breeds and they need regular baths to remove the excess oils and dirt on their skin. If these baths aren’t provided, you may be stuck with a smelly feline. They don’t have the fur other cats do to soak up these oils, causing them to become smelly, and more prone to skin and ear infections, which can make them even smellier.

In the end, these cats don’t have to be smelly, and in fact, a very smelly Sphynx is likely one that is in need of some attention or a visit to the vet.

Sphynx cats are high maintenance and low allergen. They demand your attention, and in return, will provide you with a constant source of entertainment and affection.


Featured Image Credit: Lisitskiyfoto, Shutterstock

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