Other names: Don Sphynx, Don Hairless
People’s reaction when first meeting a Donskoy is often something like: “What the heck is that?!” Indeed, their appearance is most unusual. But if you get to know these cats, you can only fall in love with them - as much for their physique as for their personality, Donskoys are endearing cats that deserve to be known and loved. Their almond eyes and the special texture of their skin and all its folds will either charm you or repulse you - but if we can be sure of one thing, it’s that no one can be indifferent when faced with so much uniqueness.
Key facts about the Donskoy
Life expectancy :
Type of coat :Naked Short Long
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Origins and history
These cats are from Russia and their history dates back to 1987, the year that the original cat was discovered in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Elena Kovaleva found a kitten in a pitiful state and took her in, naming her Varvara. As Varvara grew up, she began to lose her hair gradually and Elena tried giving her treatments to stop it but nothing worked. A few years later, Varvara gave birth to a litter of kittens, some of which were completely naked and others had hair. Then, the kitten with hair began to lose it just like his mother. Elena contacted Irina Nemikina, a renowned Russian breeder, who adopted one of the kittens and made various crosses. As fully naked kittens appeared in each litter, Irina quickly understood that this was a dominant genetic mutation (unlike for the Sphynx) and the Donskoy was born.
Physical characteristics of the Donskoy
Female : Between 10 and 12 in
Male : Between 10 and 12 in
The Don Hairless reaches adult size between the ages of about 9 and 12 months.
Female : Between 4 and 7 lb
Male : Between 9 and 11 lb
GCCF recognises all colours in the traditional and pointed categories, in any divisions except with the colour amber. TICA recognises all colours and all categories, in all divisions.
Type of coat
nude, but sometimes with light down on the nose, ears, tips of the paws, tip of the tail and genital area
The Donskoy carries a dominant gene that causes the loss of any hair that they may have when they are born. There are 4 types of nudity:
- ‘Rubber bald’: the cat is born completely naked and will remain so all their life.
- ‘Flock’: the cat appears to be naked, but actually has a very light down that gives their skin the texture of a very soft chamois. This down may disappear over time, taking the chamois texture with it, so that the cat becomes officially nude.
- ‘Velvet’: the cat is born with a bald spot like a monk’s hat on top of the head, and a woolly coat that becomes rough and gradually disappears within a year. However, residual hairs may persist on the face, legs and tail. Velvets may equally lose all of their hair and gradually become completely nude.
- ‘Brush’: the cat will slowly go bald over time, but only some of their hair will disappear. The hair that remains can be soft, wavy or more often rough, with bare areas on the head and upper parts of the neck or back.
One of the special features of the Don Sphynx is that in the winter season, they can grow a coat! It consists of a fine wool on the chest, along with hairs at the end of the tail. They then lose it later on when the temperature gets milder again.
There is contradiction between sources on this point. TICA and GCCF, both agreed on the fact that all colours are allowed: blue / aquamarine, golden yellow, green, odd / dichroic
While their nakedness might make them seem fragile and delicate, Donskoys are far from frail. They are sturdy, strong and agile.
Good to know
Just like humans, these naked cats sweat through their skin.
Do you know the difference between a Sphynx and a Donskoy? The Sphynx is from Canada, while the Donskoy is from Russia. Both breeds carry a gene that is responsible for their nudity, but in the Sphynx this gene is recessive (meaning it is not always expressed), whereas in the Donskoy it is dominant. This also affects the shape of their face, eyes and muzzle. It is believed that the more pronounced the nudity of the kitten when they are born, the more pronounced their facial features will be.
These cats are known for being more than clingy! They particularly enjoy rubbing against their humans and even sleeping under the duvet next to you. Why? Quite simply because they’re looking for warmth, using your body heat to stay toasty themselves!
These are generally pretty joyful cats who particularly love play sessions with their humans. They will need these daily and will no doubt make you laugh with their pirouettes and somersaults.
The Don Hairless will certainly keep you occupied. You’ll barely have time to put their toys away before they demand you get them out again! They’ll need a moment to catch their breath and recharge on occasion, between play sessions, but their moments of rest are short-lived.
These cats are clever and crafty. They will surprise you with their ability to learn - training sessions will be met with enthusiasm and you’ll have just as much fun as your cat!
Fearful / wary of strangers
With people who respect them and let them go at their own pace, these felines will undoubtedly be the favourite at all your parties!
Donskoys can cope just fine during your absence. But they will certainly be thrilled to have you back when you return, and will probably come begging for your attention and, of course, the warmth of your arms!
Behaviour of the Donskoy
Donskoys are not known for being particularly vocal.
Need for exercise / Sporty
If you don’t give your Donskoy enough time to exercise, you’re sure to be the first to know about it, as the consequences are not likely to please you! You may well find a roll of undone toilet paper, a disemboweled tissue box, a dug-up plant - the list goes on. It’s up to you to give them what they need to use up their energy.
Tendency to run away
Since they feel the cold a bit more, these cats tend to prefer the warmth and safety of their own home. You should still be careful once it gets hotter though, as the sun could tempt them outside through an open door or a poorly closed window...
Greedy / Gluttony
These cats may be on the greedy side, particularly given they need to consume more food than a furry cat in order to maintain their body temperature. You must be careful not to overegg the portions!
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Donskoy and cats
Donskoys can coexist with another cat without any problems as long as they are introduced correctly. If it’s another naked cat, the two may just end up using one another as hot water bottles!
Donskoy and dogs
This combination is very much a possibility. In fact, the two animals might end up feeling as if they’ve been glued together, with the Donskoy constantly cuddling up to their canine friend to enjoy their warmth...
Donskoy and children
Children who have already been taught how to treat a cat can make wonderful playmates for this breed.
Donskoy and the elderly
The Donskoy’s energy level and need for activity is likely to exceed what a calmer person is able to offer them. This must be evaluated on an individual basis, according to the lifestyles of each.
We do not have enough data to set an average price for a Donskoy, however it will vary according to the lineage, breeding, age and even the sex. For your monthly budget you should allow on average £35 per month to cater to your cat’s needs, by offering them a quality diet and ensuring they stay healthy.
Because they lack fur to absorb excess oil, Donskoys’ skin can be oily to the touch. It is recommended that you bathe them no more than once every 6 months, as the more you wash them, the more sebum they will produce. To clean the accumulated sebum between baths, you could use a damp flannel or something similar. Their ears will also require special attention - it is advisable to clean them every week. And don’t forget to clean between their toes and on the underside of their paws between the pads.
It pretty much goes without saying that these cats don’t lose any fur. You can rest assured that your sofas and your floors will always be flawless. Or at least, there won’t be any fur, but you may find little traces of sebum on pale surfaces.
Nutrition of the Donskoy
Your Donskoy will need to eat a little more than a standard cat as their lack of fur causes them to lose heat quickly. On that basis, they’ll need more calories to raise their body temperature and keep them protected from the cold.
Health of the Donskoy
They can live for between 12 and 15 years.
Strong / robust
As you’d imagine, these cats are not built for the cold. That said, they are very good at withstanding heat, and they particularly enjoy basking in the sun. However, it’s important that you’re careful to ensure they don’t get painful sunburn.
Tendency to put on weight
It is advised that you calculate their food portions carefully with the help of your vet in order to ensure that your cat doesn’t end up overweight - they are susceptible to being on the greedy side after all.
- This breed is not predisposed to any diseases in particular, although some sources mention a significant incidence of pulmonary diseases.
- Donskoys may also develop the same conditions as any other cat eventually, such as oral diseases.
On this point there are contradictions: TICA authorises pairings with the Domestic Shorthair, whereas LOOF only recognises pairings between Donskoys.