What is the Donskoy Cat?

donskoy catThe Donskoy cat is a rare breed of cat that comes from Russia. The breed is relatively new, having only been started in 1987. It is a hairless cat breed, that is similar in appearance to the sphinx, but the two breeds are not related. 

The Origin of The Donskoy Cat Name

The Donskoy is also known as the Don Sphynx, but it is not related to the standard Sphynx in any way. The breed gets its name from the location where it was discovered ñ the city Rostov on Don. The discovery was made by Elena Kovaleva, a cat breeder who rescued a bald female kitten, and treated her for baldness. The cat gave birth to some kittens a few years ago, and the kittens lost their hair, just like their mother did.  At first, people thought that the kittens were sick, but it was later discovered that the baldness was a genetic trait.

About The Breed and Its Cultural Significance

Hairless cats are something that have been around since ancient times, with even the Aztecs revering them. They are elegant, lithe and tend to be heat-seeking because the lack of hair means that they lose heat rapidly. They need more care than other cats, and this makes them something of a status symbol among breeders.  The line of hairless cats that are around today have been carefully controlled, and this also makes them highly sought after.

The History of The Donskoy Cat

The Donskoy Cat is one of the newest breeds of hairless cat, and it comes from a recent spontaneous mutation. The World Cat Federation officially recognized it in 1997, and it earned recognition by the International Cat Association in 2005. There is another breed, the Peterbald, which is created by mating a Siamese and an Oriental cat. However, because of health concerns such breeding is not allowed today.What is the Donskoy Cat?

Common Donskoy Visual Traits

The Donskoy is a hairless cat with relatively dark skin. It is very lean and muscular, and does not carry a lot of body fat. The catís ears are quite prominent, although this is more because of the lack of fur than because of the size of the ears. They have wrinkles on their body, tail, legs and head. They will grow a small coat in the winter, but will shed it as the weather warms. They can have a flocked, bald, velour or brush coat ñ the brush coat will have hair, while the others are hairless most of the year.
They tend to have slanted eyes, which are quite large and wide. Their paws are incredibly distinctive, being long and webbed, with thumbs that bend inwards, allowing them to grab things.

Their Personality

This particular breed of cat is incredibly intelligent, and has a friendly and loyal personality. Unlike many other breeds which are more fiercely independent and aloof, the Donskoy is a lot like a dog, and has a lot of loyalty and affection towards its owner.  They are quite active and very sociable. They will play alone if they are given toys, but they also like to play with others too. 

Caring for Your Cat

donkey cat
Donskoy kittens need a lot of care and attention, and the mortality rate for them his higher than it is for many other breeds of cat. It is important that they are kept warm, and that they are well nourished while they are growing. There is some concern that the mutation which causes the hairlessness can cause ectodermal dysplasia if it is present in homozygous form. This means that the cat will have poor dentition, and will not be able to lactate properly. This is a part of the reason why not all cat registries recognize or approve of the breed.
One thing to be aware of is that these cats tend to produce a lot more ear wax than normal, haired cats.  This is partly because they have less fur to protect the ears. You will need to clean their ears fairly regularly to make sure that they do not become blocked. Weekly cleaning is recommended.
It is also important to clean their nails, and any surrounding skin folds. Counter-intuitively, a Donskoy may need more, and more intensive, grooming than a typical domestic cat, even though they do not need fur. The good news, however, is that since they do not shed, the day to day cleaning burden is reduced ñ however since some do grow a thin fur coat during the winter, that is something else that you will need to be aware of. 

Training Your Cat

Because this cat is so intelligent and friendly, it is quite easy to train. It will quickly learn to recognize its own name, and it will follow you around and be quite affectionate if you encourage that. However, they are also happy to be left alone, and are not as demanding for affection as some breeds of larger dog.
donskoy hairless cat

Keeping This Cat And Other Pets

For the most part, the Donskoy will get along well with other breeds of cat or dog, and with children. They are not aggressive, and they are loyal, friendly and playful. They are, however, very energetic, in part because they need to use a lot of energy to stay warm. This means that you will need to make sure they have the space to play, and that they have plenty of toys to play with.  
The cats can be very affectionate, so they will get along with young children. However, you may want to keep your children away from the kittens while they are growing up, since they are very small and a child being rough with them could hurt them.
Another interesting thing to note is that people who are allergic to cats may have a worse reaction to the Donskoy than they do to other breeds. This is because the thing that most people are allergic to is not actually the cat hair, but a protein which is found in both the catís saliva and their sebaceous glands. This means that if someone with an allergy touches a Donskoy they may have a bad reaction to it. However, there are some people who are able to gradually desensitize themselves, and control their exposure to the cat, eventually being able to adapt to owning one.
In general, males are much bigger than females. A female will typically weigh between 6 and 8 lbs, while a male would weigh between 10 and 12 lbs. They tend to live for 12 years, although some can live for much longer.
Owning a Donskoy cat is a privilege. It is a rare breed, and it can be quite expensive, but it is incredible to look at, and incredibly distinctive. The concerns about the health of the breed mean that it is one that not all cat registries officially recognize. These cats must be cared for diligently, to ensure that they enjoy the best life possible, but they are ideal for both cat lovers and dog lovers that are willing to take on the challenge. Be sure to take out a good policy for your cat, however, since there are a number of genetic conditions which could surface later in life. Do not think of this cat as one that is easy to own, and a minimal burden to care for. This is a big responsibility, best taken on only by those who are experienced cat owners, and who take pride in looking after their pets.