Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why a Sphynx?

About 14 years ago or so Matt and I decided we wanted a pet. I had grown up with cats and Matt had grown up with a dog. Just one dog - her name was Ginger.

We didn't think we were in a position to get a dog because of the "responsibility" so a cat seemed like the best option. One major problem - I was incredibly allergic to cats.

I have asthma and at one time it was wildly out of control. Cats were a major trigger for me. (Now, a decade and a half later I can tell you that my asthma is well controlled with medication and I have very little problem around cats. And I live on a mountain that I climb every day - which I also wouldn't have been able to do at one time.)

We did a little research. We were looking for hypoallergenic cats. Well, here is something you should know. I hate the way people use the term "hypoallergenic" for animals. I think it is misleading and the truth is no animal is 100% allergen free. Now, what I will say is that some animals - certain breeds of cats and dogs - are easier to live with for those of us with animal allergies. One of those breeds is the Sphynx cat.

As you have probably gathered from reading Piglet's blog here, Sphynx cats are hairless. This means that while I am still allergic to her it is much easier to control my exposure. Piglet gets a bath once a week which helps cut down on the allergens in the house. On top of that she doesn't shed which would have spread the allergens around the house.

And even though most allergy and asthma specialists cringe when I say it, Piglet sleeps with me and I have no problems. In fact, I have trouble sleeping if Piglet isn't on me. 

While we were wondering if this was the right move for us we visited a breeder in Windsor, Ontario (Canada). We lived in Detroit at the time and she was the closest Sphynx breeder we could find. We went to her house and sat in the living room while she brought a little boy kitten and his mama out to meet us.

We were immediately in love.

We would have walked out of that house that day with a kitten...but they were so expensive. Sphynxes are a pretty rare breed and breeders can make a lot of money on them.

Instead, we put the idea on hold but we never stopped wanting a cat.

We continued to learn about Sphynxes and about responsible breeders and finally, a couple of years later, we couldn't resist the urge to get a kitten.

Sometimes I think we should have rescued a Sphynx but at the same time I wouldn't trade Piglet for the world so even though I support sphynx rescue I'm glad we have our Piglet.

Baby Piglet is the mischievous one in the middle.
When our kitten was 13 weeks old, Matt and I rented a Winnebago and drove out to central Pennsylvania where she lived with her breeder and her two sphynxie siblings. It was absolutely love at first sight. The Winnebago thing was a little excessive but we figured we would make an adventure out of it. We also went to Six Flags World of Adventure (which is no longer open) and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater on our way out.

Matt, who was still unsure he really wanted a cat, was smitten. He and Piglet bonded immediately - and he is still her favorite human today.

It was only after we bought Piglet home that we realized all of the other reasons to get a sphynx. Sure, she was easier on my allergies but she was also incredibly affectionate, insatiably curious, and remarkably smart. Piglet was perfect. Correction, Piglet is perfect.

In just a month and half she will be celebrating her 12th birthday. Now that I have a sphynx cat I couldn't imagine anything else.

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