As a breed, hairless cats are known for their wrinkles, Sphynx cats especially. They can have wrinkles all over their body, but most noticeably around their head and around their abdomen when sat down. But why do they have all these skin folds and wrinkles exactly? Read on for all you need to know…
Why do hairless cats have wrinkles? Hairless cats due to the loose skin which aided protection during fighting, as they were both predators and prey, it helped them run at top speed possible and also acted as channels for blood to run down to keep it out of their eyes.
The history of hairless cats’ wrinkles
As with many cats, the reason for certain characteristics and physical features are usually because of what they were originally bred for. These aspects then go on to become more of fashion feature of the breed.
The wrinkles are actually just a lot of loose skin which let the cat to move around freely within the skin and continue to fight even if their opponent had a hold of them.
Hairless kittens also have wrinkles on their face as they help to keep the blood out of their eyes. The blood will run down the wrinkles instead.
With time, the wrinkles and loose skin have become synonymous with the breed and are now a fashionable feature of the cat.
Because of this, their wrinkles have been bred to become more prominent and pronounced in modern times.
When do hairless cats get their wrinkles?
Wrinkles add to their adorable charm, but did you know there’s an actual developmental aspect to how and when the wrinkles appear on a hairless cat? Here’s what you can expect to happen…
When do hairless cats get their wrinkles? Hairless cats don’t have wrinkles when born but get wrinkles as they age. At 4 to 5 weeks old, a kitten will begin to put on enough fat under their skin to have some minor wrinkles. They will disappear at around 24 weeks, only becoming wrinkly again between 6 to 12 months.
That’s a very short answer and I imagine you’re probably thinking why the wrinkles appear, then go, then come back again. Take a look at the development timeline below as this will give you the detail about when hairless cats get their wrinkles and why this happens.
Hairless kittens development stages
Like humans, hairless cats go through several different stages of development through childhood and teenage phases, where you will begin to see both their physical characteristics and their personality come through.
Here’s a developmental timeline, and I’ve bolded up the parts relating to their wrinkle development.
- 0 to 3 weeks: Hairless cats will weight around 8 pounds at birth and have no visible wrinkles. At around 1 week old, fur pigment will begin to properly come through and their eyes open at around 2 weeks.
- 4 to 5 weeks: The kittens will start to develop body fat under their skin. This will result in some small and more noticeable wrinkles appearing.
- 9 to 10 weeks: Their legs will begin to grow longer and give them a gangly appearance that actually looks too tall for a cat. This is a natural stage, though it can worry new owners as the kitten you have at this point probably won’t look like the cat you were expecting!
- 16 to 24 weeks: The kitten is now at peak “gangly-ness” with long legs, a slimmer head than you would expect, and they will also lose their initial wrinkles. They will look all out of proportion but don’t worry, this is normal.
- 6 to 12 months: The kitten will begin to look more like a traditional cat. Their jaw will begin to jut out and they will grow wider in stature, including their head, shoulders and hips. During this period, they will also get their wrinkles growing in to how you would expect them to look.
- 18 months: At a year and a half your hairless cat should now be fully developed. A cat this age is usually considered to be an adult.
Do hairless cats get more wrinkles as they age?
Most hairless cats will keep the wrinkles they have from 12 months and older for the remainder of their lives. However, some owners have reported that their older hairless cats have wrinkles that get deeper.
It depends in truth. Some hairless cats do not get more wrinkles as they get older, some do become wrinklier.
Do hairless cats grow into their wrinkles?
Yes, they do. You will often see hairless cats between 6 and 12 months who have grown their wrinkles, but their body hasn’t filled out completely. You might not see your hairless cat grow into their wrinkles fully until as late as 3 years old.
Hairless cats are naturally wrinkly, meaning that they won’t fill out and become smooth (although certain breeds of hairless cats are less wrinkly than others). However, individual cats do become wrinklier than others as they mature, while others will have far fewer.
One such wrinkle is known as a ‘nose rope’, a wrinkle of skin that sits across the top of the snout, like someone has tied a rope around its head, which is more pronounced on some cats more than others.
While hairless kittens will begin to get their wrinkles at around 4 weeks old, they may lose a lot of them during their ‘gangly’ phase at around 16 weeks. As they continue to develop, however, they may regain some of these wrinkles as they grow bigger and mature, although they will most likely have less than they did as a kitten.
Why do some hairless cats have more wrinkles than others?
The reason why some hairless cats have more wrinkles on them than others will be down to a number of factors. This can include their genetics, lineage, what their parents were like, or can be as simple as varying from cat to cat.
Is there such thing as a non-wrinkly hairless cat?
In short, there isn’t really such a thing as an hairless cat without wrinkles. Wrinkles are a trait of the breed itself, meaning that most hairless cat will have at least some wrinkles, especially around their face.
Sphynx are especially known for their wrinkles, while other types of breeds, such as the Donskoy and Bambino and Peterbald, have fewer of them.
The weight of your cat can also affect the number of wrinkles, with overweight cats having more wrinkles because of the added fat. If you are worried about your cat’s weight, it is best to consult your vet who will be able to tell you what a healthy weight for your cat is and what to do to help them lose it.
If you are not keen on an overly wrinkly hairless cat, do you research to see whether what breed is a better choice for you.
Alternatively, adopt an adult hairless cat from a shelter, as you will be able to see how many wrinkles they have, unlike kittens where you will not be able to tell until they are a fully-grown adult cat.
Do hairless cats wrinkles get infected?
Hairless cats can be prone to wrinkle infections as they grow older, with the flaps of skin being difficult to clean thoroughly meaning that dirt, mites or injuries can lead to unpleasant smells, as well as discomfort and pain for your cat.
If you have noticed redness or unpleasant smells from particular areas around your cat’s wrinkles or have noticed that your cat is rubbing at its face more than normal, either with its paws or on your furniture, your cat may have an infection.
This can be distressing for your cat, becoming a very painful and sensitive area. If you think that your cat has an infection, the best thing to do is to call your vet, who will be able to give you advice and recommended treatments.
To prevent an infection from developing, make sure to spend some time cleaning out the wrinkles when washing your cat, using wipes to get into the folds and also drying them off to prevent moisture from becoming trapped and causing infections itself.
Wiping out your cat’s wrinkles about twice a week is recommended, especially if your cat has been rooting around in the dirt.
If your cat already has an infection, topical wipes can help, as well as cat-friendly topical creams to help soothe and de-inflame the area.
Your vet will be able to prescribe or recommend particular wipes and creams, with some cat owners even making them themselves with home-made recipes.
What do I put on my hairless cats’ wrinkles?
Keeping your hairless cats wrinkles clean can be as easy as giving them a quick wipe with some warm water every few days, as well as remembering to get shampoo into the folds during bath time.
If you have noticed some dirt build up around your cat’s wrinkles, a half water-half shampoo solution and baby wipes will do the trick.
When you are washing your cat be sure to dry out the wrinkles and any other flaps of skin, as trapped moisture can cause infections as well.
However, do not over-dry them as too-dry skin can cause irritation and even promote yeast infections. Keeping the balance is important, but if you are concerned about how to go about this your vet may be able to help give you some advice or instructions about how to clean and dry your cat.
Certain cats breeds have different physical characteristics, including their number of wrinkles, with Sphynx cats being particularly known for them.
However, if you are new to owning or breeding hairless cats, you may be wondering why exactly do have wrinkles? Do all hairless cats have wrinkles? And are there are particular ways to care for them?
Be sure to follow my blog for detailed answers to these questions, and if you have any, you can also make comments below or email me!