Elf cat breed description: the gremlin of the cat world, one of the weirdest breeds

László Enikő

2023. March 17 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

This unique-looking cat is a cross between the Sphynx and the American Curl. But the quirky look masks a sensitive personality, as well as being a playful, sociable and intelligent cat.


His body is hairless, his ears are curled back, and his glittering eyes seem to be trying to unlock the deepest secrets of your soul. Although he has no fur to comb, hairless cats need more care than their furry cousins, so you’ll need to take that in mind before you choose them.


Elf cat is a very young breed, having been around for less than 20 years. But their popularity is growing, thanks to their striking looks and amazing inner qualities. The breed societies do not yet recognise it as a pedigree cat, as they consider the breed too young and still in its infancy. However, at TICA’s cat shows you can already meet Elf cats, because they are accepted for registration; and are considered a variant of the Sphynx.

The breed was created by Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom, who came up with the idea of breeding kittens in 2004, with the personality and appearance of a Sphynx but with ears that curl back like the American Curl. And the kittens did indeed become hairless, talkative, playful and active like a Sphynx, but with their ears curled.


As it is not yet an officially accepted breed, there is no official standard. In appearance, it bears a strong resemblance to the Sphinx, as indicated by its face, whiskers and hairlessness. It has a slim, medium height, muscular body and a large chest. The back is slightly curved, the tail of medium length, in proportion with the body. The skin is wrinkled around the ears, face and shoulders. Its ears are curled back. Its most striking feature is its hairless body, which can be of any colour and pattern. There may be a very fine and short layer of hair on the ears, nose, tail and feet. Another striking feature is his lively gaze. Eyes are walnut-shaped, oval above, rounded below. They can be blue or gold or sometimes blue. The breed has sparse eyebrows and whiskers. Expected lifetime 10-14 years.


The Elf is a very affectionate, playful, active and attentive cat, a really great pet. He is always close to his owner, waiting to entertain him. He demands attention and companionship, and gets along easily with other pets, even with a dog. Spend 20-30 minutes a day playing more intensively with him to release excess energy and also strengthen the bond between you. He likes to climb and jump, so it’s important that he has plenty of opportunities to do so, otherwise your more valuable decorations may be harmed. Since he is very intelligent, you can teach him a few tricks. He is very friendly, not shy or reserved and not afraid to show his affection.

Ideal environment

Since he has no thick fur to protect himself, it is very important that he does not get cold in winter. During the cold months, keep his body warm with cosy sweaters and right room temperature. In summer, you need to protect him from the sun, otherwise he can get sunburn which can put him at risk of skin cancer. As he is a lively pet, it is worth giving him several climbing opportunities. The elf cat is also a great family companion and a great playmate for children. But it’s important to teach the little ones how to treat an animal gently and respectfully.


Although he has no coat, he will give its owner a lot of trouble to groom his body. Bald cats have no hair to disperse the oils in the skin, so their skin can quickly become very oily. For this reason they need frequent bathing. If this is neglected, dirt will build up on the cat’s body and cause skin problems. For bathing, use warm but not hot water, a soft washcloth and a shampoo specially formulated for cats, preferably fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin. It is important to rinse thoroughly, as deposits of the product can cause irritation in your pet. The animal should then be wiped properly to prevent it catching cold.

Since curly ears also do not grow hair to trap dirt, they also need to be cleaned very often. It’s a good idea to wipe his toes frequently with a damp cloth, as dirt and excess sebum can easily accumulate there too. Claws should be trimmed regularly if they do not wear at the right pace. When feeding, a high-calorie food should be chosen, as these cats burn more calories than furry cats to keep warm. It is advisable to feed food specifically for hairless cats.

Common health problems

The Elf cat has most of the same health problems as his ancestors. This can lead to skin diseases, especially if the owner neglects proper care, as explained in more detail above. They can develop ear problems and sunburn and get cold in the winter due to a lack of hair.

cat breeds elf cat grooming a hairless cat hairless cat

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