Meet Peterbald: The Russian Hairless Cat Breed That’s Turning Heads Everywhere

RDLH (CC0), Pixabay

If you thought the Sphynx was the only hairless cat breed out there, think again! Here comes the Peterbald and its name already speaks for itself. And as you might have already guessed, Peterbalds are the center of attention everywhere they go due to their extraordinary appearances.

Back in the early 1990s a Russian felinologist named Olga Marinova decided to try out experimental cross-breeding between a naturally hairless Don Sphynx cat (a feline with a dominant hairless gene) and an Oriental Shorthair cat (with slender body structure and elongated facial features similar to the ones of the Don Sphynx). The result of the cross-breeding was a litter of four kittens – Mandarin, Muscat, Nocturne and Nezhenka. These kitties resembled the slender and elegant looks of the Oriental Shorthair, but inherited the hairless gene from the Don Sphynx.

These four kittens kicked off the new experimental breed, which would later become known as Peterbald. And while the breed might seem unconventional, it did receive an official breed status from TICA (The International Cat Association) in 1997, just a few years after it was developed, and a worldwide championship status in 2009. In other words, these kitties are officially recognized as more than an experimental breed and can compete in feline shows across the globe.

Are they hairless?

No, not really. The gene, which is responsible for a typical domestic cat’s fluffy coat, is recessive in Peterbalds, Sphynxes, Don Sphynxes and other similar breeds. However, Peterbalds aren’t completely bald. Many of them are born with a light, thin layer of fur, which they sometimes keep as they grow into adulthood. Most Peterbald cats, though, lack the fur and have only an extremely thin layer of soft moss over their skins. The colors you see on them are actually the pigments of their skin, not fur colors – opposite to the case with most cats that have longer and denser fur coats. Yet similarly to typical domestic breeds, Peterbalds can come in a variety of colors, patterns and markings.

Are they hypoallergenic?

Getting a hairless cat for a cat-allergic owner seems like a winning formula, right? Wrong! Peterbalds, just like other cats, produce the Fel d 1 allergen, which causes allergic reactions. It can be found in all cats’ saliva, urine, feces and other skin secretions. It’s a fact that Peterbalds do produce less Fel d 1 than many other breeds, but that doesn’t make them fully hypoallergenic.

This kitty looks scary. Will it attack me?

Contrary to their intimidating (some might even say revolting) looks, these felines are actually quite affectionate and loyal to their owners. Due to the fact that they don’t have a thick fur coat, they actively seek warmth and are willing to snuggle all the time. What’s more, they are naturally energetic and rather amiable. They can easily get attached to their pet parents to the point of getting needy, clingy and demanding. Peterbalds are also a notably vocal breed. All in all, they aren’t suitable for cat lovers that prefer independent breeds and they aren’t afraid to invade the personal space of their owners and any house guests.

How much do Peterbald cats cost?

Here’s the ultimate question – will you have to splatter a small Slavic fortune just to get one of these? Yes, you will. Peterbalds in general are a rare breed and purebred kittens don’t just pop up anywhere. Most specialized sellers cross-breed Peterbalds with Oriental Shorthairs and Siamese kitties. Such mixes start at $1,000.

Purebred Peterbalds have a significantly heftier price tag. And pedigree kittens can cost up to the whopping $3,000. For reference, the purebred hairless Sphynx cats will actually set you back with less than that. And if you add all other cat-related expenses (litter, food, grooming, healthcare, etc.) to the equation, the price can seem just as shocking as the appearances of the Peterbald itself.

What do you think?

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