The Donskoy is a mostly hairless cat breed that originated in the former USSR in the 1980s. The breed is also known as the Don Sphynx, Don Hairless, the Russian Hairless and the Don Bald Cat. Although it looks strikingly like the Canadian Sphynx, the two breeds are thought to be unrelated.
According to MessyBeast.com, bald cats of Oriental build were seen in Russia as early as 1981, but in 1987 professor Elena Kovaleva found a bald blue tortoiseshell kitten in the town of Rostov-on-Don. Sadly, the kitten was being used as a football by two boys. Kovaleva rescued the kitten, named her Varvara and got her to a vet. Although treated for hairlessness, or alopecia, the kitten was bald all of her life.
Varvara became healthy enough to slip off with a local fully furred tomcat and produced a healthy litter in 1989. Several kittens were bald. A bald black kitten named Chitya was bought by cat breeder Irina Nemykina, the owner of Myth cattery. No matter what cat Chitya was bred to, the results were bald or mostly bald kittens. This suggests that the bald mutation was somehow dominant in Chitya and in the resulting kittens.
The Donskoy became a recognized breed by the World Cat Federation in 1997 and by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2005. This is still a very rare breed, but has been used as the basis for yet another hairless cat breed, the Russian Peterbald.
The Donskoy strongly resembles a wrinkled, bald or mostly bald Siamese. It does, however, have webbed toes, particularly large ears and often a small pot belly. TICA describes them as being “sturdy” with “strong bones.” They often do not grow as large as a Siamese but stay about the size of a feral cat. Males usually are larger, heavier and have a thicker face and neck than females. The skin can be mottled in any color.
Donskoys usually aren’t completely bald. There are four acceptable coat types known as Rubber Bald (the ideal), Flocked, Velour and Brush. Flocked and Velour have very short hair that feels almost velvet-like. The hair can be all over the body or just on the cat’s points. Kittens can be born Velours and then become Rubber Bald as they age. The Brush type has a harsher, Rex-type coat.
Hairless or mostly hairless cats like the Donskoy cannot survive outdoors. They are easily chilled or sunburnt. They need to be bathed every week or they become very greasy. The become greasy because their hair cannot absorb their body oil. Their wrinkled and nude skin can be easily prone to cuts or minor wounds because they lack the cushioning of fur.
Messybeast.com “Hairless Cats.” Sarah Hartwell. http://www.messybeast.com/curly-cats-bald.htm
TICA. “Donsky Breed Introduction.” http://tica.org/public/breeds/dh/intro.php
Wikipedia. “Donskoy.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donskoy_(cat)