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The Donskoy & Peterbald – History and General Characteristic

| December 26, 2011
Brown tortie tabby brush coat Peterbald

Abrodiel 2 hot for u. Peterbald, Brown tortie tabby brush coat. Breeder: Christina Schroede, Owner: Roeleen Bloemohf

The Donskoy & Peterbald – “Russian hairless cat” History and General Characteristic

In 1987 a female brush coated kitten was found in a small town called Rostov-on-Don in Russia. She was the foundation female of the two Russian Hairless breeds known as the Donskoy/Don Sphyxn/Don hairless and the Petersburg Sphynx/Peterbald. A blue tortie kitten named “Varya”, who was rescued by “Irina Kovalyova”. At the time it was thought that Varya was seriously ill, as she appeared to have lost almost all of her hair coat. After long-term treatments with antifungal medication Varya didn’t appear to be getting any better. In fact, despite otherwise good health, Varya continued to lose what hair coat she had leaving only hairs on her legs and tail with a little fuzz on her face. It soon became obvious that Varya was not suffering from a disease at all, but was a result of a new genetic hairless gene.

When [appr. 1989] Varya was old enough she was mated to a neighboring male tomcat. A healthy litter resulted but several kittens in the litter were born with the same hair type as Varya! One of Varya’s kittens {a blk female by the name of Chita} went to the cattery “Myth” {owned by Irina Nemykina} where the first true breeding of Russia hairless cats had begun. At Myth cattery, Chita was bred to a European short hair cat that was the foundation breed of the first established Donskoy Sphynx.

There was no cat club in Rostov-on-Don in those days, so Irina kept studbooks for herself. Of course, they were far from precise, yet very helpful from a genetic standpoint. According to these documents it was determined that the new gene for hairlessness is dominant to the gene for normal coat lengths. This was evident because when heterozygous hairless cats were mated to normal coated cats, a number of hairless kittens always resulted in the litter. The hairless cats of Myth Cattery were bred exclusively to European Shorthairs and Domestic Shorthairs.

The foundation cats, which resulted from the first out crossings to European Shorthairs, were, of course, heterozygous for the gene for hairlessness. Since the breed is relatively young, we are still working towards developing more homozygous lines. In some litters a number of straight haired kittens continue to be born along with the bald kittens. Along with velour and brush coated kittens. We have found the truly bald homozygous cats; if breed together the hairless gene becomes a lethal gene and died kittens arrive from the breedings. It is always best to breed homozygous cats with a cat of velour or brush hair types. Homozygous bald born kittens do come from these types of breedings.

First mating of Donskoy cats with Oriental/Siamese cats were started in St. Petersburg, Russia and in Moscow, Russia in 1993. These types of breedings were the foundation of the hairless breed called Peterbald Sphyxn. The Peterbalds were unpopular in Moscow, but they became very popular among St. Petersburg breeders.

Peterbalds were the results of out crossing a very classy tortie Oriental female {Radma von Jagerhof} with a brown mackerel tabby Donskoy, male {Afinogen Myth}, whose bone structure was a bit light, but who had a wedge-shaped head. All in all, he was a good choice for breeding with Oriental cats. This male was also mated with Russian blues. The litters from such matings were considered to be Donskoy, but some of the kittens were elegant and used to make Peterbalds. And they have become the founders for developing Peterbalds throughout Russia and USA.

In the summer of 2000 Sherri Mossop of Possoms Cattery in Warren, Michigan USA started looking into a hairless breed of cat. The American Sphynx was the only breed of hairless cat she was aware of. While surfing the yahoo classifieds, she came across an advertisement for rare Sphynx cats. Sherri replied to the ad, only to find out the ad was for a Donskoy Sphynx. She was told they were very rare, came from Russia and were better than the American Sphynx due to their dominant hairless gene. The Sphynx is still a relatively new breed of hairless cat. With out knowing the Donskoy Sphynx was any different than the American Sphynx, Sherri Mossop purchased her first Don Sphynx “Egor”. “Egor” is better known by his American name, “Stepan Out of Possoms”.

On her way home with her new cat, Sherri proceeded to look over Stepan’s paper work. What she found to her surprise was all the paper work the breeder had given her on Stepan was written in Russian from a club called World Cat Federation (WCF). She had never heard of WCF. Upon arriving home, she began to surf for the WCF club. She found the club operated out of Germany. She became acquainted with those in the WCF and a friendship developed between her and the Vice President. She made every effort to learn all about the WCF and how it was ran.

Very impressed with the Donskoy Sphynx, Sherri Mossop started to look for other Dons in USA. None was to be found. Stepan stood alone as the only Donskoy Sphynx in the USA. It was not until a year later she found some living in another state. They were all either spayed or neutered.

With the knowledge that Stepan stood alone as the only whole Donskoy Sphynx in the USA, Sherri Mossop began to talk to breeders in Russia. She wanted to learn all she could about bring this new hairless breed to the US. She found the true name of the breed to be Donskoy Sphynx. It was later 1998 that the name was shortened to Don Sphynx.

Sherri Mossop was fascinated with the breed, the more she learned the more she wanted to know. She had gathered a lot of information, and wanted to share the information she had gathered and help teach other breeders in the USA about the breed. She started a Donskoy Federation of America Club. It was a tribute to the Donskoy Sphynx here in the USA.

In the Year 2001, Stepan Out of Possoms started showing up at Mid-Michigan cat shows. He was the first Donskoy to attend a CFA cat show.

In the Year 2002 the Donskoy was accepted in the TICA registry as the Don Hairless. The Don Sphynx had its name changed.

In the Year 2003, Stepan’s offspring, attended CFA and TICA shows. They were shown in the HHP classes and did very well. Since then there have been few others being shown HHP in California.

In the Year 2004, the Don Breed group really started to grow. Now there are 4 USA breeders and 2 Canadian.

In the Year 2005, Don Hairless Breed Club was formed. This year Sherri Mossop turns the breed club chair over to Evelyn Jacobs a Canadian Donskoy breeder. Together they stayed strong about the Fact that the Don hairless in TICA was really a new bald breed and that the True Russian name is a Donskoy. So a Donskoy members vote was taken and as a group we were able to get TICA to change the name Don hairless to Donskoy for those who wanted to stay true to the Russian breed.

In 1996, the Peterbald was accepted by one of the Cat Associations in Russia. One of Nocturne iz Murino’s daughters, named Dauphine Extra Fine, Jacoja (Fanya,) is known as the first Peterbald to be brought over to the United States to start the Peterbald program here. Several breeders before going to her current home owned Fanya at Magnoliachat. Her son, Magnoliachat Durango (Endy), formerly of CowboyClaws, is still involved in development of the Peterbald. At CowboyClaws, we imported our original Peterbalds from 4 different Russian breeders to develop our own lines. We ran our Peterbald program concurrently with but not a part of the group who were attempting to get the Peterbald accepted in TICA. When the first few attempts at acceptance failed, most of the first USA breeders pulled out of the program. Other breeders have dropped off along the way so that at this point in time, CowboyClaws is one of the longest running Peterbald programs and is one of the most experienced breeders working with the widest variety of coat types.

We have worked with the new American TICA breeders in activities such as giving kittens, exchanging kittens, to expand bloodlines as well as mentoring several new catteries and being available for questions or concerns. Two Peterbald cats imported from Russia by CowboyClaws were later sent to start the first Peterbald breeding program in Canada at Parminous Cattery. Because of these types of activities, nearly all of the kittens being shown in North America have our lines or our cats, in their pedigrees.

Genetics of the Russian hairless cat:
Originally the name “Sphynx” was attributed to hairless cats, bred on the basis of the mutation revealed in Canada. Canadian mutation is appointed to a recessive allele – hr. Specimens that are homozygous for this allele (hrhr) do not always display hairlessness in its’ full expression: sometimes they have thin residual coat with a corrupted texture, that is more prominent on legs, muzzle and tail (these are so-called Points).

Russian mutation behaved in some other way. It revealed itself as early as in the first generation bred from two cats – normal and hairless. The results of such mating were quite mixed: some of heterozygous offspring had a residual curly coat at birth, which could be extremely short (“velour”) or of normal length but rare, and shafts of hair were thin. These coat texture abnormalities often came together with a bald spot on the crown, resembling a monk tonsure. These kittens lost their coat as grew older – hair bulbs died on some regions or on all surface of skin (except for points). The “shedding” happened in the period from 2 months to 2 years of age.

Other heterozygous kittens were born covered with thick curly hair of normal length. Most of them stayed completely “coated” for their lifelong. Cat specialist conditionally called this variety “brush”.

Among the second generation, i.e. animals born from both “shed” parents or one – of “brush” variety and another – a “shed” cat, there was one more type of kittens – completely hairless at birth. They even could have no whiskers and their elastic “large” skin was wrinkled.

However the new mutation did something more to the general appearance of animals than just a disruption the coat development. Among the offspring, especially velour-coated, there were kittens of a very specific type: with a shortened muzzle, clearly seen cheekbones and widely set up eyes, separated with a breath. These features were tightly bond to the coat development and almost never been displayed in a “brush” type specimens. The balder the kitten was the more vivid were the mutant type features… though this happened only in the kitten hood – in contrast to “velour” animals, which kept the specific mutant features in adult age.

Adult hairless at birth Donskoy had a wedge-head of medium length, slightly defined (not prominent) cheekbones. The only peculiarity seen in the skull of these specimens is a “cut” chin, which is typical for most of bloodlines, though not required and, in fact, not desired.

Such complex mutations as hairlessness, no doubt, have effect on physiology along with morphology. In this sense, the most evident Donskoy feature is reduced growth (which also correlates with the coat development): hairless and sometimes “velour” animals grow noticeably slower than their “coated” siblings. In the adult age the former are virtually of the same size as the latter.

This kind of atrichosis (hairlessness) also influences the cat’s behavior: it was noted that Donskoy very well resists emotional stress.
Inna Shustrova, Candidate to Doctor of Biology sciences
Taken from “FRIEND: for cat fanciers”, # 2 (1999)

General characteristic of the Donskoy:
Donskoys are quite elegant and sturdy with strong boning. Males as a rule are generally larger than females. The Donskoy is a very intriguing, unique, softhearted and social cat of medium size with soft hairless wrinkled skin that feels hot and velvety to the touch. The Donskoy is very active, friendly and highly intelligent. The Donskoy is very good-natured and gentle, easy to groom and handle as a result of their loving and amiable disposition.
Distinctive attributes: Donskoy’s open their eyes early. The Donskoy can be born with its eyes open; other Donskoy’s will open their eyes within the first three days of its life. Sleepy eyed, contented is the Donskoy look.
General characteristic of the Donskoy

General characteristic of the Peterbald:
Peterbalds look a lot like Oriental Shorthair cats. Peterbalds are energetic, well tempered, and peaceful cats that love attention, and need to be communicate with their family. They are an excellent companion and family pet, as they live with people, other cats, and other animals in harmony.
The overall impression of an ideal Peterbald is an elegant and intelligent cat. The Peterbald has a sturdy, lean elongated body that contributes to its graceful movement.

General characteristic of the Peterbald

Health issues:

Donskoy and Peterbalds are relatively new breeds and we have yet to discover a specific prevalent health issue to this breed. However, there is emerging evidence that all hairless breeds, including hairless dogs, pigs, and rats, seem to have issues with gums and teeth. In essence, this is logical as the teeth are formulated out of a hair, and when you are dealing with a gene mutation that affects the hair, you can expect to see teeth issues. Hairless cats are therefore at high risk for teeth and gum issues, and owners need to use vigilance and regularly check the teeth and gums. Additionally, for very obvious reasons, Hairless cats are more likely to get sunburns and chills.

*Some illnesses/diseases that have been found within some breed lines:

Juvenal cataract
Haemophilus felis
Feline Uveitis (Intraocular Inflammation)
Lower immune systems
Lowered sperm counts
Sudden kitty death syndrome {bald to bald breeding found to be Simi-lethal gene}
Crystallized liver in newborn kits under 4 weeks of age, mostly seen in full bald births
Eye infections {due to lack of eyelashes}
Ringworm, fungal bacteria’s {can pick up easier, due to lack of hair}
Yeast infections in ears {due to no ear hairs, germs get in easily}

We have found the balder the kittens, the higher the body temp. they run. Kittens run at 101 to 103. They need higher protein diet since they burn more heat off their body than a hair coated kitten.

Over bathing can cause the skin to produce more oils than necessary and become a problem. Most breeders have found bathing when only truly needed is necessary. Once every 2 months is great for the skin. You can just use a washcloth or pet wipes to remove unwanted dirt build up between baths.

Copyright & Credit:
Sherri Mossop at Possoms cattery:  Home of the: Donskoy, Peterbald & Savannah “Possoms Cattery & rescue”
Linda Usher at Cowboy Claws Cattery:

Photo copyright and courtesy:  Roeleen Bloemhof ,  Mistbesque Cattery

Category: Breeding and Genetics, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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