One of the things that make cats so adorable is their fluffiness. After all, who can resist petting that silky soft fur? However, some cats come without fur, and they are just as charming as their furry cousins.
One such cat breed is the Donskoy cat, also known as Don Sphynx or Russian Hairless. Although they are not nearly as popular as Sphynx cats, Donskoy cats have a growing fan base.
Donskoy Cat Characteristics
|Fur color||Usually gray, but can be of any color|
|Fur pattern||Rubber bald, flocked, velour, and brushed|
|Fur length||When there is fur, it is usually short|
|Eye color & shape||Almond-shaped and slightly-slanted eyes that can be green, yellow, orange, blue, etc.|
|Weight||Males 10-12 lbs|
Females 8-10 lbs
|Expected lifespan||12+ years|
|Temperament||Gentle, loving, sociable, and attention-seeking. It loves having companionship, and it shouldn’t be lonely for prolonged periods of time. Donskoy is an intelligent and inquisitive cat.|
|Kids and other pets||Friendly toward kids and other pets, but it needs to be socialized from an early age, with clearly set boundaries.|
|Sociable and cuddly||Very sociable and cuddly, these cats enjoy being petted, cuddled, and handled.|
|Activity level||Donskoys are playful and curious cats, so make sure to provide them with enough activity and interactive toys.|
Requirements & Traits
|Feeding||Meat-based foods with more caloric intake than furry cats need. Can eat some dairy products but in moderation.|
|Grooming||Needs to be wiped every day and washed once a week.|
|Shedding||Specimens that have some hair will shed, but minimally, while completely hairless ones have no fur to shed.|
|Hypoallergenic||More hypoallergenic than furry cats, but they still can produce a protein responsible for allergic reactions.|
History and Origins
The Donskoy cat is a relatively new cat breed. It was discovered in the 1980s in Russia when professor Elens Kovaleva rescued a female kitten from the street and took it home. She named it Varvara, and at first, the kitten seemed to be an ordinary cat.
However, after several months, Varvara started losing her fur and became completely bald. Elena thought it was some medical condition, and she tried numerous treatments over the years, but without any result.
Eventually, Varvara had a litter of kittens, and what was peculiar about those kittens was that they were either born bald or they had fur which fell off after several months.
One of those kittens was adopted by a professional cat breeder Irina Nemikina, who quickly realized that the hair loss wasn’t caused by a disease and that it was a consequence of a genetic mutation.
She managed to breed her cat with domestic cats, and as a result, more kittens with no hair were born. Irina named this new breed Don Sphynx because of its similarity to famous Sphynx cats. Later Don Sphynx became Donskoys, and in 1987 they were recognized as a new breed.
Donskoy Cat Personality
Donskoy cats are smart, sweet, and affectionate cats. They are also extremely loyal, and their loyalty is often compared to that of dogs.
Donskoy cats are curious, and they love to explore their surroundings. Their playfulness can quickly evolve into mischief, so make sure always to have your eye on them.
Donskoy cats don’t like being lonely, and if you have to leave them alone every day for several hours, you should consider getting them a companion. These cats are quite sociable, and they get along with both children and other pets.
However, you need to socialize your Donskoy cat from its early life. And, when it gets introduced to a new animal or a new child, you should let them play under your supervision for the first couple of times.
Donskoy Cat Appearance
Donskoy cats are often compared to Sphynx, another hairless breed. Some people find hairless cats interesting, while others find them repulsing.
The first thing you will notice about Donskoy’s cat is its fur (or its absence). However, what is even more fascinating is that Donskoys can have four types of coats instead of just being bald. These different coat types are also connected to other facial features.
- Rubber bald coat – The cats with this type of coat are true hairless cats, as they have no hair at all. Their muzzles are short, with extended cheekbones and wide eyes.
- Flock coat – The Donskoy cats with flock coats might seem like true hairless cats at first, but if you go over their skin with the palm of your hand, you will notice there are soft, chamois-like textured hairs. Most of these cats lose their peach fuzz as they grow up.
- Velour coat – The Donskoy kittens born with this coat usually have hair all over their bodies. The only bald spot is on their head. As they grow up, their fur will keep falling off, and they will only be left with a few small patches of hair on their tails, heads, and legs.
- Brush coat – The cats with brush coats have sparse, bristled, wiry, and wavy hair. Their bodies are still not fully covered with hair, but it is much less bald than the Donskoy cats with other coat types.
Donskoy cats have medium-sized and slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes. Their eyes can be of any color, blue, green, yellow, gray, orange, hazel, etc.
Donskoy cats are medium-sized cats. Males are usually bigger than females, with their body length ranging between 13 and 15 inches and their body weight ranging between 10 and 12 pounds. On the other hand, females can usually reach a body length of 11 to 14 inches and a body weight of somewhere between 8 and 10 pounds.
Other Body Characteristics
Donskoy cats have solid and muscular bodies. Their backs are straight, and their shoulders are narrower than the rump. The body has many wrinkles, especially around the head and neck.
The Donskoy cat’s head has a wedge shape, with a flat forehead and several wrinkles between the ears. The cheekbones and eyebrows are well-developed, and the nose is straight and of medium length.
This cat breed has closely-spaced and large ears that sit high on their heads. The ears are rounded and slightly tilted forward.
Donskoy cats have muscular legs with long, webbed toes and rounded paws. Their tails are long and straight, with a rounded tip.
Daily Life With Donskoy Cat
You might think that the absence of fur might mean less maintenance in terms of grooming. However, that can’t be further away from the truth when it comes to Donskoy cats.
Just like any other house cats, Donskoy cats will thrive on a meat-based diet. These cats love wet and dry cat food, but you can also occasionally feed them with raw meat.
However, if you do so, try to keep that raw meat in the fridge for at least several hours. This way, you will kill some potential bacterial pathogens and protect your cat from potential food poisoning.
Since Donskoy cats have little or no fur at all, their skin is susceptible to various issues. To prevent those issues from happening, try to feed your Donskoy cat with high-quality foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Donskoy cats can also eat some dairy products, such as yogurt or cheese, but try to avoid these products if possible. Adult cats have no need for drinking milk, and they can even become lactose intolerant.
Also, you should feed your Donskoy cat more often and provide more calories per meal than you would with a regular cat. Since Donskoy cats have little or no fur, they spend a good portion of their energy trying to stay warm.
Cats’ hairs can be annoying, especially when they end up in places where you don’t want them, for example, your clothes or even food. However, these hairs have multiple functions, and the first one is keeping the cat warm.
Another important function is absorbing the oils from the skin and preventing various dirt particles from reaching the skin. That’s why Donskoy cats require special care when it comes to their skin.
Since there is no fur covering the skin, Donskoys can get dirty. Although they will try to lick and clean themselves, it might not be enough. Also, Donskoy’s skin excretes various oils, but since there is no hair to absorb them, the skin will become too oily.
To prevent that from happening, you need to wipe your Donskoy cat every day with a damp cloth. Refrain from using any cosmetic products unless your vet recommends them.
Additionally, you will have to bathe your cat at least once a week. Make sure to use lukewarm water and try to be as gentle and calm as possible.
Similarly, you will have to clean your cat’s ears at least once a month. And, if possible, you should train your cat to endure tooth brushing and nail trimming.
Protecting Your Donskoy Cat From The Elements
Another challenge with Donskoy cats is how to keep them warm during cold weather and how to protect them from the sun during summer. Since they usually have no fur, Donskoys shouldn’t face cold temperatures.
If you live in an area with a cold climate, try to keep your Donskoy inside as possible. And if you notice that your cat might still be cold, you need to buy them some warm clothes.
On the other hand, if you live in a place with lots of hot, sunny days, you must protect your cat from sunburns. However, don’t use your sun protection because it might contain some ingredients that will harm your cat’s skin. Instead, consult your local vet, and they will be able to recommend you a suitable product or other solution.
Donskoy cats require lots of activity and regular exercise to stay healthy, fit, and entertained. If you buy them enough toys and provide them with enough places to jump, climb, and run, your Donskoys will stay athletic.
If you want your Donskoy cat to be even more active, you can take it for a walk occasionally, given that you leash trained it previously. Also, you can let your Donskoy cat play outside, but only if you can protect it from the cold/heat.
Most Common Donskoy Cat Health Issues
The genetic mutations that cause Donskoy cats to be born with little or no fur can also affect their health. Despite all of that, Donskoy cats are quite healthy, and they can live long and happy lives if you take good care of them. Still, you need to be aware of some diseases that you can expect when having a Donskoy cat.
Feline Ectodermal Dysplasia
This condition can cause several health issues, such as irregular teeth growth. If your cat has this condition, you might notice some of its teeth are missing, while others are growing into abnormal formations.
Another potential problem that ectodermal dysplasia can cause is the inability to sweat. Although sweating is only an alternative way for a cat to regulate its temperature, this issue can become serious for cats that live in hot climates.
Finally, feline ectodermal dysplasia can affect the female Donskoy cat’s ability to lactate. If she is spayed or you don’t plan to breed it, that is not such a big issue. However, if your cat is expecting kittens, she might be unable to feed them.
Due to their unique genetic makeup, Donskoy cats are prone to tooth decay, gum infections, and other dental problems. Their teeth can change color or fall out, and their gums can become swollen, red, and infected.
To prevent this from happening, you need to keep your Donskoy cat’s teeth clean. Regular brushing will significantly reduce the risk of any teeth-related problems.
Also, if your cat is sick, don’t give it any medicine that wasn’t prescribed by your vet. Some antibiotics and other medicine can damage your cat’s teeth, so don’t risk it and consult a professional. They will know which medicine is safe to use.
I think this one is obvious. Animals have their fur for a reason, to protect them from colds and from various skin infections and other issues. That’s why hairless cats such as Donskoys are especially prone to skin issues.
One such issue is urticaria pigmentosa. This condition is characterized by red papules on the skin, and it also involves the buildup of defective mast cells in the skin, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow.
As already mentioned, Donskoy cats can be easily sunburned, which is not only painful but also dangerous for their health.
This condition is caused by an abnormal signal transmission from the cat’s nerves to its muscles. As a result, the affected cat suffers from muscle weakness.
This muscle weakness can sometimes be so severe that the cat is unable even to raise its head. Some other symptoms include fatigue, eating and swallowing difficulty, and inability to walk.
Another quite common condition not only among Donskoy cats but also among other cat breeds, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is characterized by an abnormal thickening of heart wall muscles.
As such, this condition can be mild and without affecting the cat’s quality of life or longevity. However, in more severe cases, it can cause heart failure.
Donskoy Cat Name Suggestions
One of the most fun parts of getting a new cat is coming up with a name for it. Donskoy cat is an unusual breed, and it deserves some unusual and cool names!
- Don, Donnie, Donna
Buying or Adopting a Donskoy Cat?
This is still an extremely new and rare breed, and it is highly unlikely that you will find it on the street or in a shelter. Probably the only way to get a Donskoy cat is to buy it from the breeders. This will cost you anywhere between $500 and $2500.
Before you decide to purchase this cat, take in mind that this breed has recently been criticized due to a range of genetic health issues that it can suffer from. Many cat enthusiasts and breeders are questioning the ethics of creating a breed that is prone to so many health issues and hence subjected to needless suffering.
Donskoy Cat Alternatives
Donskoy cats are still not that common in the US. Finding one in a shelter isn’t likely, and chances of finding a Donskoy breeder are only slightly better. But if you want a hairless cat, you can always get a Sphynx cat instead.
Another alternative to Donskoy cats is Peterbald cats, another hairless breed with Russian roots. However, just like Donskoy cats, Peterbalds are hard to find in the US. Consider getting a Cornish Rex or Oriental Shorthair cat, as they have similar body proportions to Donskoy cats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Donskoy cats originated from Russia, while Sphynx cats come from Canada. Also, a gene responsible for hair loss is recessive in Sphynx, while in Donskoy cats, it is dominant.
Theoretically, yes, but you shouldn’t. Both breeds can have so many genetic-related health issues, which can be even more serious in their offspring.
Yes, Donskoy cats will occasionally grow some of their furs back, usually before the winter months. However, when the warmer weather comes again, these hairs will fall off.
Since they are unusual and relatively rare, Donskoy cats can be pricey, with some specimens being sold for $2500.
These cats are sweet, playful, intelligent, loving, and affectionate. They are good pets indeed!
Donskoy Fun Facts
- Apart from their hairless bodies, wrinkled skin is another defining feature of Donskoy cats. These cats have wrinkles around their heads, ears, jowls, chins, and cheeks. The more wrinkles, the better! (Too bad this isn’t the standard for human beauty too)
- Dmitri Donskoy was a Moscow prince from the 14th century that’s now venerated as a saint in the Russian Orthodox church. It is unknown if the Donskoy cat got its name from this historical figure or if it was a mere coincidence.
- Donskoy cats were initially avoided and considered sick because of their hairless bodies. Then, after the professional breeder proved that their baldness was a result of genetic mutations, this breed became highly valued.
I think Donskoy’s cat origin story is funny and enlightening in a way. It teaches us that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. People thought that the first Donskoy cat and her kittens were sick and even contagious, but it was actually a start of a whole new breed.
Donskoy cats are still relatively rare and unknown, especially when compared to similar Sphynx cats. However, Donskoy cats are beautiful creatures and lovely pets, and I am sure their time to shine will come very soon!