Information about Don Sphynx
The origin of a unique
natural mutation that has created a breed of hairless cats (the second such
officially recognized breed in the world) can be traced back to 1987 in the
Russian city of Rostov Na Donu.
A small, funny-looking female kitten was found on a city street; it had a sparse wavy tortie-colored coat. By the time the kitten was a year old it has shed most of its fur. The kitten was found by a Mrs. Kovaleva who named it "Varya" and has decided to keep it. When of age, Varya had on several occasions mated with common tomcats and her each resulting litter contained offspring that have similarly become bald by their first birthdays. They were given away and their further fates are unknown.
This nameless wonder of nature could have eventually disappeared without a trace were it not for one of Varya's daughters named Chita being acquired by a wonderful woman named Irina Nemykina.
Nemykina's Myth Cattery has undertaken the task of establishing the breed, which was subsequently named Don Sphynx. The appearance of the genetic mutation in the first offspring resulting from the mating of hairless females with common longhair males has allowed a theory that, unlike the earlier established Canadian Sphynx which is determined by a simple recessive allele, the Russian mutation is that of a dominant nature. Rather, it would be correct to describe this as the product of an "incomplete" dominance of Don Sphynx's mutated gene which is the determinant of the presence of the fur in cats (similar to the manner of incomplete dominance of Canadian Sphynx's hr gene as it relates to Devon Rex's re gene). In both instances the offspring of the first and their subsequent generations that fail to possess the homozygous hairless gene have only partial fur coverage,
Naturally, the presence of the dominant gene has significantly simplified the job of establishing Don Sphynx's breeding program and has enabled the breeders to obtain specimens of good quality from even the first generations of litters. As the breeding process progress, there has gradually accumulated a growing number of homozygous animals, i.e., those possessing the chromosomes with the mutant allele inherited from both of their
Those heterozygous animals that retained their fur even into adulthood were gradually eliminated from further breeding. Initial belief that Don Sphynxes become fully hairless only upon reaching one year of age is now considered outdated; it appears that more and more litters are now comprised of
kittens that are completely hairless at birth. In 1997, following seven years of organized breeding the breed standard was established and registered by both WCF and TICA.
Everything that I have read about Canadian Sphynx's "uncatlike" character and temperament can also be said about the Don Sphynx. They are incredibly affectionate, friendly and trustful; they are gluttons and love to sleep.
Also of note is their unusual ability to withstand emotional stresses.
Initially the Dons' coloration was not known for its variety - it was mainly black, blue-tabby, and blue and black. Actually, even at present Nemykina's Myth Cattery only possesses black and black-tabby Sphynxes. The Russian
city of St.Peterburg has become the center of development of multi-colored Sphynx specimens. Breeders Komarova and Marchenko have succeeded in creating the animals in a variety of colors: tortie, white, harlequin, red, bi-color, and colorpoint. To accomplish this, they have used both the non-pedigree cats of interesting colors and the old-type Russian Blues as well as other breeds.
The sphynx, is something very unique. It seems that nature has created these cats especially for the human contact - lack of fur gives the impression of
touching not an animal, but a being that is one step closer to the human race.
Nina Kovaleva-Feinstein http://www.don-sphynx.de/