Sphynx Health Issues Kittens Cats Elf Bambino Dwelf

Sphynx Kitten Cat Health Issues in hairless cats including Elf, dwelf and bambino

Sphynx are prone to health issues and can develop genetic health problems like many purebred cats. The sphynx cat breed and hybrid outcrosses like the experimental elf cat, dwelf, and bambino are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a form of heart disease, congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS), hereditary myopathy, a neurological disease which affects muscle function, muscular dystrophy, peridontal disease, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas or patellar luxation, skin conditions such as urticaria pigmentosa and cutaneous mastocytosis, digestive problems and gastrointestinal upset, IBD, pancreatitis, food allergies, respiratory issues in kittens, and more.

Sphynx elf kitten cat hereditary health issues HCM CMS hip dysplasia patellar luxation luxating patellas

All hairless breeds including the sphynx and experimental breeds developed from the sphynx like the elf, bambino, and dwelf have genetic predisposition for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM, which is widely prevalent in the sphynx. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is known to be hereditary, so it is important if you have a sphynx kitten or cat or a hybrid outcross like the elf cat that they are screened regularly for heart issues. Regular echocardiograms can catch HCM early. A negative HCM scan only means at the time of testing, there is no evidence of heart disease, but HCM can develop in sphynx cats at any point in time, and at any age. Have a veterinary cardiologist examine and test your sphynx’s heart yearly.

Many sphynx kittens and cats with HCM do not appear to be ill. Some HCM symptoms are:

  • difficulty breathing, including labored or rapid breathing
  • open-mouthed breathing
  • abnormal sounds while breathing
  • weak pulse
  • lethargy,
  • abnormal heart sounds (murmurs, galloping rhythms)
  • exercise or exertion intolerance,
  • sudden hind-limb paralysis with cold limbs due to clot in the terminal aorta,
  • bluish discoloration of food pads and nailbeds, which indicates a lack of oxygen flow to the legs
  • collapse
  • sudden heart failure

According to PETMD.com, there are several possible medications to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in sphynx cats:

  • Diltiazim to slow the heart rate, treat irregular heartbeats, and possibly reduce the enlargement in the left ventricle
  • Beta-blockers to slow the heart rate, correct irregular heartbeats, and control blockage of the blood flow.  Beta-blockers are not used if sphynx has congestive heart failure.
  • Ace inhibitors, in cases with congestive heart failure, to improve the flow through the ventricle
  • Aspirin to decrease risk of blood clots
  • Warfarin to prevent blood clotting
  • Furosemide (diuretic) to remove excess fluid from the body
  • Spironolactone (a diuretic used sometimes in conjunction with furosemide) for cats with congestive heart failure
  • Nitroglycerin ointment, to improve flow by dilating (opening) the ventricle and arteries

If your sphynx is diagnosed with HCM, they should be on a sodium-restricted diet. Provide a quiet and calm environment for your sphynx away from loud noises, other pets, and active children is important for their rest and recovery.  Stress can exacerbate the problem and can lead to heart failure.

If your sphynx or elf cat has HCM, monitor them closely and watch for any new symptoms or worsening of symptoms. Certain prescribed medications like warfarin can cause bruising and uncontrolled bleeding. While on warfarin medication, keep your HCM sphynx cat in a safe, restricted environment that minimizes the chance of injuries. If your sphynx is on an ACE inhibitor or spironolactone, regular blood tests are necessary to check kidney function and electrolytes. After six months, a repeat ultrasound examination of the heart is recommended.

No sphynx breeder can say that your sphynx kitten or elf cat won’t develop HCM or other diseases. Even if the sire and dam tested negative for HCM, their results only means at the date of the testing, they did show signs of the disease, but HCM can develop at any time, as the sphynx and elf cat ages.

Willam Roberts, DVM
Sphynx kitten health issues skin conditions urticaria pigmentosa





Hip dysplasia is prevalent in the Devon Rex breed, which are in most, if not all, of today’s Sphynx pedigrees, and the hybrid outcrosses like the elf cat, dwelf, and bambino cats. Feline hip dysplasia is the failure of the hip joints to develop normally, which is otherwise known as physical malformation. Hip dysplasia gradually deteriorates and leads to painful loss of function of the hip joints, and eventual osteoarthritis in affected sphynx and elf cats.

Hip dysplasia is progressive, and if left untreated, can become crippling. Unfortunately, many sphynx and elf cats diagnosed with feline hip dysplasia and patellar luxation develop osteoarthritis. Both hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are painful conditions that affect a sphynx or elf’s cat’s mobility and functioning, and their quality of life. Surgeries are often required to correct these bone deformities, to restore mobility, minimize pain, and improve the sphynx and elf cat’s quality of life.

There are typically several main surgeries to treat hip dysplasia; triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), Femoral head ostectomy (FHO), juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS), total hip replacement (THR) and excision arthroplasty (EA). Weight control is also important to decrease pressure on the joints.

Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) is the most commonly recommeded for sphynx and elf cats, especially active ones that are at a healthy weight. Femoral head ostectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the head of the femur (the long leg bone or thighbone). Orthopedic surgeons remove the ball of the ball-and-socket joint, leaving just an empty socket. The muscles of the leg will initially hold the femur in place and, over time, scar tissue forms to provide cushioning. FHO surgery aims to restore pain-free mobility to a diseased or damaged hips of sphynx and elf cats.

There is a strong association between hip dysplasia and patellar luxation in sphynx and elf cats

Sphynx and elf kittens and cats with hip dysplasia and/or luxating patellas or patellar luxation require lifelong treatment, management, and care. This includes surgeries, pain management, physical therapy, cold laser treatments, acupuncture, being on a joint diet, supplements, and weight management. Weight control is important to avoid extra pressure on the sphynx or elf cat’s joints.

According to the CFA, sphynx kittens with hip dysplasia may be born to parents with normal hips, but more commonly, at least one parent cat has hip dysplasia!

Sphynx breeders and catteries can have the greatest impact on reducing feline hip dysplasia by only breeding cats that have been tested and evaluated for hip dysplasia, and whose hips are approved by OFA or rated in the tighter group by PennHIP.

Sphynx breeders and elf cat catteries should also have all their kittens hips x-rayed at the time they are neutered at the veterinary hospital before they leave their cattery for their forever home.

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sphynx with hip dysplasia and patellar luxation


Sphynx, elf, dwelf, and bambino kittens and cats suffer from inherited disorders like other animals, but certain physical malformations tend to be more common due to inbreeding, like luxating patellas or patellar luxation and hip dysplasia.

Feline bilateral patellar luxation otherwise known as luxating patellas is caused by an inherited deformity in the bones. In affected sphynx and elf cats, their bones did not develop normally, which causes the patellar (knee) to move side to side from its normal anatomical location in the groove of the thigh bone (femur). The patellar (knee) discloates either to the inside of the stifle (medially) or to the outside (laterally). Feline patellar luxation can occasionally result from a traumatic injury to the knee causing severe lameness of the affected leg. However, when it affects both legs (bilaterally), the cause is usually hereditary. When the trochlear groove is too shallow, the sphynx or elf cat was born with it, and their bones did not develop normally.

Symptoms of patellar luxation/luxating patellas vary greatly in sphynx and elf cats depending on the severity of the disease. Luxating patellas is graded between 1-4, with four being the most severe. Some common symptoms of luxating patellas in sphynx cats are bunny hopping, skipping a step, holding up a limb, or shaking and extending the leg often. Sphynx and elf kittens with severe patellar luxation may present as bow-legged that worsens with growth.

A veterinarian can detect and diagnose patellar luxation during a physical examination by palaption of the sphynx or elf cat’s stifle (knee joint). Radiographs may be needed in some cases and will confirm the diagnosis. Many sphynx and elf cats diagnosed with luxating patellas often are diagnosed with dysplasia too upon xrays. Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joints that can cause lameness in the hind legs which makes walking and jumping difficult for cats.

Corrective orthopedic surgeries are often required for grades 3 and 4 luxating patellas in sphynx and elf cats, although it is often recommended for grade 2 and higher. To correct luxating patellas is invasive surgery that requires a 12 week recovery period that involves strict crate rest for proper recovery.

Always have your veterinarian check your sphynx, elf, dwelf, or bambino cat’s knees and hips. Every sphynx breeders should have all their sphynx kittens and elf cat’s hips and knees x-rayed when they are neutered at the veterinarian. If your sphynx cat or elf cat is diagnosed with luxating patellas, consult with an orthopedic surgeon to be graded properly, and for proper management and treatment of it. Immediately report the diagnosis to your sphynx breeder or elf breeder.

Since there is strong evidence of a genetic component, sphynx and elf cats diagnosed with patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, or other physical malformations should not be bred. Parent cats of affected sphynx and elf kittens diagnosed with luxating patellas should not be bred again, be spayed or neutered. and retired from breeding.

Ask your sphynx breeder and elf cat cattery for evidence that the sire and dam’s knees and hips were checked, as well as the hairless kitten that you are interested to buy. Ask for your kitten’s hips to be x-rayed at the same time of being neutered or spayed, and to be provided copies of the results. When you bring your sphynx or elf kitten home, promptly take your kitty to a veterinarian to be examined, and also have their knees and hips re-examined as well.

There is nothing worse than having a sphynx or elf kitten that you paid a lot of money for, to discover that they have hip dysplasia and/or luxating patellas that requires tens of thousands of dollars or corrective orthopedic surgeries, long recoveries, and lifelong management and care, which is mostly a result of inbreeding. It is very sad and tragic that these innocent sphynx and elf kittens suffer as a result of unethical breeding practices.



Has your sphynx cat, elf cat, dwelf or bambino kitten or cat been diagnosed with HCM, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas or patellar luxation, arthritis, osteoarthritis, IVVD, skin problems, allergies, cancer or other health issues? Please share with us your hairless cat’s medical diagnosis and your experience with a good or bad sphynx breeder or elf cattery. Everything is strictly confidential. Other sphynx kittens, elf cat, dwelf, and bambino cat’s lives can be helped or saved by your true story. Contact us privately through the live chat (blue circle in the bottom right corner), the contact form below, or via email at: sphynxelfcatsbreeders@gmail.com

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