Outcrossing is something that a breeder does to introduce hybrid vigor in the cars. Sphynx are a relatively new breed, and so there has been considerable inbreeding in past years while the breed was developing. This is common in any breed of animal. Fortunately, until 2015, the Cat Fanciers' Association is allowing breeders to outcross to the Domestic Shorthair, and to the American Shorthair to increase genetic diversity. They are now allowing outcrossing to other breeds.
An outcrossing program should always incorporate the following:
1) Testing for feline health. Savannah has been DNA tested to ensure good genetic health.
2) Heart health. Savannah has been ultrasounded negative for cardiomyopathy. She is at least 5 years of age, according to my veterinarian.
3) Good temperament is essential to outcrossing, as I believe much of temperament is inheritable. Savannah is very sweet, and loves to be cuddled.
4) Good type. Savannah exhibits the very best type for a domestic shorthair. She is medium sized, and has a strong muzzle. Her ear set is excellent, and her eyes are open and lemon-shaped. She has a very strong chin.
5) Good dentition. Sound teeth and gums are essential to good feline health. Savannah's teeth are perfectly straight and she has no signs of gingivitis, a problem we see in felines that is definitely an inheritable trait.
Outcrossing isn’t something I ever really wanted to do personally, because I do not have a large cattery, and an outcrossing program is an enormous project. The first generation is all coated, and kittens that are not kept should be altered and placed as any other kitten in the program. I would like to share with others my experience with outcrossing, and would be glad to guide anyone that has an interest in outcrossing to the DSH.
First of all, I found a Domestic Shorthair at a local shelter. She had 2 kittens with her that had just weaned and were fabulously healthy. The kittens would have no problems being adopted, but I was told the mother would most likely be put to sleep due to the fact that she was an older adult. She had really super ear set, and a very good, square muzzle. Lots of hair – a tortie. She was not a friendly cat, but I was able to handle her. Her timidness soon changed when I brought her home with me. I believe she was grateful for the rescue.
Vetting, grooming, blood work, DNA testing, cardiologist
I found out a lot about the DSH I named “Savannah.” Her DNA profile came back clear of any disease (thanks to catgenes.org, we now have this ability), and she had A/a blood type (another plus). My veterinarian said she was approximately 5 years of age. She was given her innoculations, wormed, etc., and I kept her for a year before breeding her with Bradley. Her cardio check came back sound. She never has had any problem physically, and looked better and better the longer I had her. Her coat came into a luscious condition, and she was more friendly than ever. Now that she’s 6 years old, and has given me her one litter of kits, she was spayed. Due to her age, her ovaries were full of cysts, something we discovered when she was spayed.
All 3 of Savannah's kittens were girls, so I was especially lucky. I spayed one and gave her a pet home. The other two girls were bred to Tobias (see below), and from those breedings I had my F-2s – 5 hairless, and 2 haired in one litter, and 2 hairless and one haired in the other! I don’t regret having this outcross program now that I see the benefits for the breed. The vigor and robustness is so evident in these kittens, one could only imagine! Not to say that Sphynx kittens aren't robust -- they are! But these have unusual robustness -- all 10 have been strong and active since the very first day, and never had a sniffle, or any problem whatsoever. I also never had to supplement (something I am very very surprised about, as there are 7 of them in one litter -- poor Harriett!).
BREEDING WITH THE DSH
I decided to use Bradley with the breeding to Savannah. Bradley's father is Skinzin Tommy 2-Tone, and has fathered many beautiful, and healthy kittens which seem to follow his type. Bradley's mother GC WrinklesofLove Nova of Skinzin. She has very large ears, which she gave generously to her kittens. But unfortunately, as it turned out, Bradley had HCM. We suspect the trait came from Nova as Tommy 2-Tone is still alive and doing very well to this day. Since HCM is autosomal dominant, Skinzin Bella No Pelo appears unaffected, as of 2017, when she was scanned negative for HCM at the age of 8 years. Researchers believe that by the time a cat is 6 years of age and is negative for HCM at that time, the chances are very slim they carry the disease.
I feel fortunate to have Bella and am continuing with her line. She will always live with me and continue to be scanned.
Skinzin LucyInTheSky WD
Sire: Destynys Raphael
Dam: GC Skinzin Sexy Sadie
Dr. Kate Meurs, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies with NCSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, who is head of the genetic research currently underway for the Sphynx Cat now owns her very own Sphynx! Dr. Meurs' research is aimed at discovering the genetic markers of HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) in our breed, so that there can be a blood test that will accurately diagnose some forms of this dread disease.
Skinzin Bella No Pelo had a singleton kitten born in early August of 2011. The father of the litter is Skinzin Chasing a Dream. The kitten was always an exceptional boy, as singletons sometimes are and, having the whole milk bar all to himself, he thrived and grew quickly, and was exceptionally spoiled by his mother, Bella!
Skinzin Bella No Pelo
Sire: Angelfire-TN Don't Stop of Skinzin
Dam: Skinzin Harriett (F-1 DSH)
Soon after Velcro arrived at Dr. Meurs’ home, she reported the following:
Things are great here! He is eating a bit of the raw but also some of the canned that you sent back with me and some cooked chicken that I buy for everyone. He is really doing wonderfully! The Siamese [Dr. Meurs’ other cat] had bit of a stare down with him this evening but he did not back down or run away so I think the worst might be over! Right now we are sitting in the bed with one Pomeranian (the other is under the bed) and he is helping me type this, right now he is peering over the screen!!
I'm sending you a mediocre photo!!
CH Angelfire-TN Don't Stop of Skinzin (Tobias)
A Georgia Sphynx Cattery
Harriett is pictured above. She is an F-1 bred to Tobias, and their girl, Bella, is pictured above.
Skinin Betty Boop
Sire: Skinzin Good As It Gets!
Dam: Skinzin Bella No Pelo
SKINZIN SPHYNX OUTCROSS PROGRAM
Skinzin Good As It Gets!
Sire: Godz General Patton
Dam: Skinzin Lucy InTheSky WD
Meet Savannah, my Domestic Shorthair.
Grooming Skinzin Sphynx:
For bath time, I use Johnson & Johnson Baby Wash. Any good hypoallergenic shampoo is all right, or veterinary prescriptive shampoos. I do advise against using baby shampoo, as I have found it harsh to the skin in some. Kittens generally need a bath about once a week. It is an easy process (they dry very quickly)! They are okay with a bath (theyve already been bathed and groomed many times, so they are well acclimated to the process), if you follow a few simple guidelines -- gently hold the front legs together or they reach out with their arms as you place them in the tub. I hold them by their front legs and support the back legs with the other hand/arm. That way I don't get scratched and they feel really secure. I usually use my tub to bathe it doesnt require that much water, but they have plenty of room to get their feet wet. Trim nails before bath, and you might want to clean the ears with good ear wash first.
Intermittently, I use hypoallergenic baby wipes for ears, butt, and feet routinely, and just a wet washcloth for face, if necessary. Oil accumulates around the nose, toenails and inside the ears. You should clean the ears with ear cleaning solutions (from your vet), and use baby oil and cosmetic cotton pads or a washcloth around the inside of the ear. Be careful not to go deeply, cleaning only what you see. You can take your finger with a washcloth and run it around the ear after the baby oil. Instead of baby oil, eye makeup removal pads works very well. Toenails should be extended and wiped off with a warm washcloth. Be gentle and patient -- listening to your kitten's mood is important and it is best not to frustrate your kitty with fussing too much over getting him or her clean. So be patient and again, let your kitty tell you when enough is enough, give a treat, then go back to cleaning later. This generally works and gets them trained to your style of cleaning very well!!!
I use clay clumping litter, but any litter will due. Just make sure that there is low dust in the litter you buy. I never have trouble with kittens going in the box, but you need to keep it picked daily. If your kitty develops a rash, first look at the type of litter and the additives which may be in it before you panic. Many times when trying out different things, I have found the additives to prevent smells in litter can be harsh to the Sphynx skin. Remember, theyre just like you they dont have the protective hair coating that other cats do.
HOW TO EVALUATE A BREEDER
Fortunate is the novice buyer who purchases her first cat from a reputable breeder!
The reputable breeder is like the head of a family. She feels responsibility toward the breed itself, toward the cats she breeds, the cats she hopes to breed, and additionally, to all the people who have cats of her breeding. She spends astounding amounts of his time and money on matters she thinks are in the best interests of her breed.
It is this awareness of responsibility with an eye toward the CFA standard for the breed, combined with the practice of good ethics that marks the difference between the reputable breeder and mere backyard breeder. The reputable breeder is an artist, motivated by a drive to create perfection, both in health and in type, or conformation. The backyard breeders and cat dealers are motivated by the desire to make money. They are truly in the cat business, selling kittens and cats like over-the-counter commodities to anyone who can pay the price. The heart of The Cat Fanciers Association is made up of breeders. They may not all agree as to what constitutes perfection, but by belonging to a national organization, they are able to arrive at a consensus, which is the CFA Standard of that breed.
The true breeder is the link between the past and the future. Since she is well aware that the buyer of today may be the breeder of tomorrow, she does her best to educate people who purchase her cats in grooming, diet, and general care, and to instill in them the ideals and values on which she has built her reputation. Even when the cat or kitten is sold, the breeder's help and advice does not end, but continues throughout the cat's life, a responsibility cheerfully accepted by her without expectation of compensation. Though the efforts involved of properly caring for kittens may cause her sleepless nights and untold worries, she will never let a single kitten or older cat leave for a home that is not as good as or better than the one she is providing. While often not fully appreciated until AFTER the kitten or cat is brought home, this screening by the breeder is the greatest protection a cat purchaser can have.
Beware of the backyard breeders, as they rarely ask questions. Their main concern is to sell kittens as quickly as possible in order to avoid additional expense and work. Their interest ends when the sale is completed, and they rarely guarantee the kittens general health for feline immunity-related and inheritable diseases.
and... A few days later, Dr. Meurs reported,
Velcro is doing great! He is asleep next to me under a blanket after running around like a mad man for the past 2 hours and eating 2 dinners. He is eating like a fiend! He is doing better with the Siamese, the first few days she would growl every time she saw him but now she is definitely interested in his antics and just sits near by and watches him. Occasionally he reaches out and hits her as he flies past, which is not appreciated by her and she’ll chase him for a bit but it is beginning to be part of a game. Today was the first day that I let them all stay out together while I was at work -- no problems at all! So all things going better than expected! Thank you!!!!
and... later, she sent another report on her boy,
Velcro is terrific! He is a big talker -- which is a bit different than the other 2 but is very comical -- he talks about food but also when he is bored or when he wants me to turn on a battery operated toy, or sometimes just to himself! He still rough-houses with Chipper the Pomeranian. Chipper loves it and often starts it by raising a paw when Velcro goes by and then they are off and wrestling! Chipper has really thick fur so I think Velcro must end up with a mouthful of hair! …
I think the information I gave you before is still current, we are working hard on the project but we still really need tissue samples and more samples from affected cats!