What to Expect
If you choose to own a Sphynx as a treasured companion, be prepared to have an inquisitive, fearless companion. No new person is a stranger, and no animal is too big or scary to head butt and make friends with. If your Sphynx has been well socialized they should be friendly, outgoing, and confident after the initial settling-in period. Your Sphynx will demand your attention. If you are not inclined to be accommodating to a cat who wants to sit behind your head buried into your hair, or under your shirt, or have a nose buried into your ear; then maybe you should seek a less friendly and affectionate breed. Do not be afraid to handle your Sphynx firmly, they will not break. In fact, they appreciate the attention. They love a good rubbing. (Stroking is too gentle and tickles most Sphynx). Be prepared for a wonderful companion that seems to be a cross between a cat, a dog, a monkey, and a small child who will steal your heart for years to come.
Socialization and Desensitization
D’Nile's guiding principle is to start every kitten’s socialization period as soon as possible in its life. This is the period when each kitten learns how to interact appropriately with other cats, people, animals and life situations. The older a kitten becomes the harder it is for a cat to learn to accept new situations. This is typically considered the natural slowing to a young cat’s socialization learning curve. The age specific period has a natural purpose of changing the point in a kitten’s life from when their attitude is naturally fearless, curious, and spontaneous to a more suspicious and cautious predator. D’Nile believes it is important to expose every Sphynx to as many different people, places, types of animals and objects in this early stage of their life. This exposure should be combined with a positive association making each interaction enjoyable and social. Positive interactions with people with many different ages, ethnicity, uniforms, smells, and of course with physical disabilities (and their assistance devices, such as wheelchairs or crutches) will generate foundations for safe, calm, and pleasant interactions throughout your Sphynx lifetime. D’Nile understands the importance and refers to several studies that: demonstrate the more human contact a kitten receives before seven weeks of age, the friendlier that kitten is likely to be towards humans later in the kitten’s life. However, continued handling and enrichment is equally important after your kitten goes home with you from D’Nile. We recommend you set aside at least an hour each day for the continued socialization of your Sphynx kitten. Make sure your Sphynx is held often and picked up while being walked around the house. It is important to touch your kitten all over and rub gently inside the ears, between the toes along the tail and spine, stretch out the legs, and rub the Sphynx belly. This insures the Sphynx will be confident in handling for future grooming as well as vet visits or possible injuries. We will expose each kitten to a variety of surfaces such as carpet, linoleum, grass and concrete. We also provide a variety of enrichment toys for kittens to explore and investigate. Sounds and lights are incorporated as well as textures and smells, these toys are rotated often to prevent boredom. We recommend each new kitten guardian to continue this practice in their home as well. It is D’Nile's policy to vacuum while kittens are safely contained in the room and eventually even while the kitten is being securely held. It is important not to try to shield your kitten from loud noises such as the vacuum and household appliances. As long as your Sphynx kitten is safe, noises should be incorporated as much as possible in each kitten’s socialization process. This can reduce your Sphynx’s future stress during parties, large gatherings, loud music and even holidays such as July 4th. If your kitten shows a fearful or emotional exaggerated reaction to a situation or specific thing, then we recommend desensitization training. Systematic desensitization is a structured plan to make an animal or person less sensitive to certain people, places, events, or noises. We recommend using special treats that you only give your kitten these special training times. Small pieces of your kitten’s favorite treat such as freeze-dried chicken or chicken liver is a great motivational treat for your kitten. These specific treats you decide upon should only be given during these specific desensitization training sessions. Each session should be very brief and always end on a positive note. Begin a training session when both you and your kitten are relaxed and you have the patience to work with your kitten. Simply expose your kitten to a limit it can handle, increasing each time. Your kitten is young and mentally immature. Expect to move slowly and take small steps. Vary the time of day and location of each session of the desensitization training, and with different interactive toys for your kitten. We always recommend praising your kitten for any level of success. For you and your kitten, socialization and desensitization is a lifelong process for both you and your new beloved Sphynx. D’Nile is always willing to give continuous support after you take your kitten home.
D’Nile Sphynx recommends you take the time to remember that when your new kitten goes home at 12 weeks of age, your new D’Nile Sphynx kitten’s baby teeth are starting to fall out and replaced by their permanent teeth. Your new baby will be teething so it is a cat’s natural instinct to hunt, pounce, stalk, bite, and claw. D’Nile Sphynx wants to make sure each new kitten owner is aware of the importance of preventing unwanted play aggression. This play aggression can become a lifetime habit that can prevent you from spending time with your kitten, bonding, and can even lead to injuries. D’Nile always reminds every new parent to remember that hands are only for loving, petting, snuggling and love. If you want to play with your new kitten use a feather, string stick toy, or laser light (never shine any laser light into any pets’ eyes.) These toys are the proper way to play and entertain your Sphynx. Don’t let your kitten chew or bite your hands as this can cause a bad habit to set in. Your kitten should always associate your hands only with love and affection and always seek you out to be petted, rubbed and scratched. If your kitten tries to bite or scratch you, remove your hands immediately, and replace them with a toy to redirect its attention. If your Sphynx still tries to bite or scratch your hands, state loudly and firmly “OUCH” and remove all attention from your kitten. Playtime is over for at least that few moments. When your kitten is calm you may attempt to play again. If your kitten still insists on behaving aggressively, repeat the loud “OUCH” statement, and walk away disengaging in all attention until a later time. The Sphynx breed in general is a very intelligent breed and are easily trained. It is very important to give them the proper play time, exercise, and mental stimulation each day.
Teaching Your Kitten To Come When Called
D’Nile Sphynx always recommends starting to train your kitten to come when you call their name as soon as you bring your new kitten home. D’Nile starts this training process as soon as you pick out your kitten and informs us of the name you chose for it. Learning the technique of coming when called not only causes your pet to interact with you and engage its mental faculties; this is also an essential safety tool. This is an essential safety tool every Sphynx owner should use regularly, and for your pet’s entire life. Learning this may save your pet’s life if it comes to a house fire, family evacuation, or even if your pet dashes out of an open door. The training then begins by regular use of each kitten’s name associated with petting and when ever food is prepared and placed in front of them. Even if your Sphynx is already present then you should still call its name along with “here kitty kitty”. It is essential when training your Sphynx any new behavior to be consistent and figure out what motivates them. Sphynx are often highly motivated by their sense of smell and tasty food. Start by calling your kitten’s name when they are already present, and reward them as soon as they turn their head to look at you. You can then move a few steps away and call your Sphynx while engaging them with a toy or offering a treat. Remember to practice teaching your kitten to come to you from every room in your house, and during different times of the day. Arousing your Sphynx curiosity while calling its name will also be a good chance to have them come running. Use a squeaky toy or shake their favorite treat can and they will come running. Remember to always use positive praise and reward them as soon as they come into the room. Don’t let them forget why they came to you in the first place. Start the training sessions when both you and your Sphynx are in the right frame of mind and feeling patient. D’Nile recommends starting with small intervals of time to begin with, then working up to longer periods as your kitten grows. Sphynx kittens, like children, can have a short attention span so it is important to recognize this and change up their toys and playtime. D’Nile Sphynx hope you will always use these techniques as an enjoyable exercise and a lifetime bond.
At D’Nile Sphynx, we start our kittens off at a very young age with wearing clothes so when it comes to harness training they have already been introduced to the feel of fabric next to their skin. Harness training is taking the idea of desensitizing the cat/kitten to the feel and touch of the harness one step further. One of the most important steps for successful harness training is finding the perfect harness for your Sphynx. D’Nile Sphynx recommends harnesses with more fabric to them such as walking jackets or vests. This can help prevent some of the chaffing, or pinching, or possible choking. Equally important to the success of your harness training is patience, consistency, and finding a distracting toy and tasty treat your Sphynx simply cannot resist. The first step is to simply put the harness on your cat and it is important to make sure it fits properly. It is a good idea to take your Sphynx to the pet store to be sized correctly. Once you have the right harness, try increasing the amount of time your Sphynx wears the new harness until it no longer notices it. Now it’s time to attach the leash. Remember to keep calm and use treats as distractions. This will allow your Sphynx to associate harness wearing with a positive attitude as well as having your undivided attention. Make sure to follow your Sphynx from room to room as it wears the harness with its leash attached so that it does not get caught up or tangled on anything. This may frighten your Sphynx and could set the training back. Once your Sphynx seems completely relaxed and at ease with wearing the harness and leash, take a step forward in front of your Sphynx holding a treat out in front of the Sphynx at eye level. You may also drag a favorite toy along the ground in front of your kitten as you walk in front of it. This phase must be practiced patiently and may take time so be patient with your young Sphynx. You will be glad you put in the time and effort. If you insist on walking your Sphynx outdoors then please know your neighborhood well. If you have barking dogs or dogs running loose, this is very dangerous for your Sphynx and you should only let them out in the backyard. Remember Sphynx are very social and they tend to get into trouble by not knowing the dangers of a dog or a small child. Sunscreen must be used if your Sphynx goes outside on a harness.