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Donskoy

Donskoy

Place of origin

Russia

History

For many years, the Canadian-bred Sphynx was unopposed on the show bench as the sole hairless cat breed. Other hairless cats had appeared but had either become foundation cats for the Sphynx or had not been bred. This changed in 1987 with the Donskoy, which originated in the small Russian town of Rostov-on-Don. The foundation cat was a blue-cream tortoiseshell female rescue named Varvara (or Varya). At first, it was believed Varvara was hairless due to illness or a skin condition, but as time went on Varvara was found to healthy. Around 1989, Varvara was bred to a neighboring tomcat and produced several hairless kittens, demonstrating the mutation to be a dominant gene. The progeny were bred to European Shorthairs and Domestic Shorthairs and became the foundation cats of the Donskoy Sphynx breed.

Unlike the recessive hairless mutation that created the Sphynx breed, the Russian hairless mutation is a dominant "hair loss" gene, meaning that only one parent needs to have the gene for hairless kittens to be produced. Some kittens born from mating a Donskoy to a fully furred outcross can have a residual curly or fine coat at birth. This fur is shed between two months and two years of age. Other kittens from matings between Donskoy and furred cats retain a curly coat throughout their life and are known as brush coated. When this first generation of offspring are bred among themselves, kittens who are hairless at birth appear in the litters.

Physical description

The Donskoy is a solid, medium-sized cat with a short wedge-shaped head with prominent cheekbones; large, upright ears; and wrinkles on the face, forehead, and jowls resulting in an "old man" expression. Some Donskoy have whiskers, others don't. Young cats may have curly whiskers and short fur on the muzzle, on the cheeks, and at the base of the ears.

Donskoy have endearing, almond-shaped eyes and paws that look almost like human hands. These cats may grow a fine coat of fur in the winter.

Colors and varieties

These cats are recognized in all colors. Because hairlessness in these breeds is a dominant trait, expression of the hairlessness trait varies more widely than in the recessive Sphynx. Cats with one copy of the gene may have a different feel to their skin than cats with two copies of the gene. Variations include complete hairlessness on the body, resulting in a rubbery feel to the skin that resembles vinyl; a soft, velour coat of short hairs that feels like crushed velvet; and a curly, coarse, brushlike coat. The amount of hair may change with the seasons, becoming denser in the cooler months.

Temperament

The Donskoy is an affectionate and sociable cat who enjoys the comforts of an available lap.

Activity level

High

Vocal level

Moderate

Special needs

Because hair growth does not pull skin secretions (sebum) from the skin, hairless cats need to be bathed and their ears cleaned regularly to prevent these secretions from accumulating on the skin and in the hair follicles. They should also be provided with warm areas to crawl into and should be protected from excessive cold or unfiltered sunlight, as they may sunburn. Because they do not have fur to protect their skin, their nails should be kept well groomed, and they should be kept from exposure to sharp objects in their environment to prevent scratches. Rough play with other pets in the household can lead to skin injuries as well.

Variations

In 1993, some Donskoy cats were mated to Oriental/Siamese in St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1993, resulting in an Oriental conformation hairless cat known as the Peterbald. In 2005, the Ukrainian Levkoy Cat was created using the Donskoy and Scottish Fold. The Ukrainian Levkoy has a wider, rounder face than the Donskoy. The ears do not fold tightly to the skull, as in the Scottish Fold, but stand out from the head and fold near the ear tips. This variation also occurs in the various coat types of the Donskoy and in a prick-eared form due to recessive genes.

Peterbald

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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