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Elf Cat | Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Care

Grey elf cat looking back
Origin:United States
Height:9 – 14 inches
Weight:10 – 15 pounds
Lifespan:8 – 14 years
Coat Length:Hairless or semi-hairless
Coat Colors:Any coat color or pattern is possible, but most commonly seen are grey, pink, black, and beige
Temperament:Sweet-tempered, cheerful, amiable, intelligent, playful
Hypoallergenic:Yes
Suitable for:Active individuals and families; households with kids and other pets; apartment-living

The elf cat, also known as the elf Sphynx cat, is a breed that has become increasingly famous in the United States. With its signature curled ears and high energy, this little feline will surely make cat enthusiasts smile.

In addition, elf cats often possess a warm and gentle disposition, making them suitable for most households. Hence, their popularity continues to rise as more and more people discover their unique charms.

It is vital, however, to acknowledge the specific needs of this rare cat before bringing one home. So, continue reading, as this article will discuss everything you need to know about owning an elf cat!

What Is an Elf Cat?

An elf cat with grey patches of skin

Often described as a spontaneous mutation, the elf cat is a new breed that results from crossing Sphynx cats with American Curl cats. The elf cat looks similar to a smaller Sphynx cat but with ears that have curled tips. The elf cat goes by other names, such as elfin cat and Sphynx cat elf.

Having the American Curl and the Sphynx as parents, it is no wonder the elf cat has gained popularity.

This feline’s distinctive curled ears, reminiscent of the American Curl, and hairless body, like that of a Sphynx cat, make it stand out from other breeds.

On top of its unique look, an elf cat is known for being playful, intelligent, and loving. Such traits make them ideal companions for families with children and other pets.

Elf Cat Origin and History

As a relatively new breed, the elf cat’s history and origin have not been well-documented. Fortunately, this section will shed some light on how this distinctive cat with curled ears came to be.

To start, Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom, cat breeders from the United States, began producing elf cats in 2002.

They wanted to create a hairless cat, like the Sphynx, but with curled ears and prominent cheekbones.

So, with a clear goal in mind, they bred an American Curl with a Sphynx cat that possessed the said traits. The result was a striking feline that has become increasingly famous over time.

It is worth noting, however, that the original breeders claim that the elf’s curled ears are only cosmetic modifications. They will not affect a cat’s personality or health in any way.

But just like other new breeds and hybrids, the elf cat is yet to be recognized by the World Cat Federation (WCF) and The International Cat Association (TICA).

Despite this, some American cat clubs still allow elf cats to compete in shows alongside any recognized breed, including purebred cats like Persian, Siamese, and Ragdoll cats.

Elf Cat Appearance

Elf cat kitten on white background

The reason behind the creation of elf cats is simple: Karen Nelson and Kristen Leedom, the initial breeders, wanted a cat exhibiting curled ears, prominent whisker pads, and a hairless body.

You will also notice that elf cats share triangular, wide-set eyes with the Sphynx. But unlike the original breed, these felines typically have longer legs and powerful hindquarters.

However, the most distinguishing feature of this hybrid is its curled ears.

In fact, a closer look will reveal that their appendages lack ear furnishings. They are also curved in a smooth arc, almost resembling that of a dog’s ears.

Furthermore, thanks to its Sphynx and American Curl parents, the breed benefits from having a coat that can come in different colors and patterns. These shades include but are not limited to grey, black, beige, and pink.

So, given these unique traits, it’s easy to see why many people are so attracted to this affectionate cat breed, especially when they’re seen loafing.

The following video features a very curious curly-eared elf cat:

Elf Cat Size and Weight

Generally, an adult elf cat weighs between 10 and 15 pounds, with a height ranging from roughly 9 to 14 inches at the shoulder. It’s also estimated that this cat reaches its full size at about 12 to 18 months.

However, despite these general guidelines, no breed standard exists for this type of cat yet. Thus, it’s difficult to predict exactly how large or small your baby elf cat will grow to be.

Aside from that, genetics, nutrition, and health status will play a huge role in determining the final size of your kitten. That said, a vet or a breeder may be your best bet in getting more accurate details regarding your cat’s final size.

Elf Cat Temperament and Personality

Elf cat kitten on white and pink background

The overall disposition of your elf cat relies on many factors, including training and environment; however, there are a handful of traits common in all elf cats.

As a product of the American Curl and the Sphynx, elf cats are often playful and energetic. They are also curious by nature, so they will want to explore their environment at every opportunity.

Similarly, they are very friendly and affectionate with people, which makes them great pets for owners who enjoy having a companion around during their day-to-day activities.

The elf also inherited the intelligence of their parent breeds. They can quickly adapt to new situations without getting stressed out or causing problems for others.

But remember that no two elfin cats are identical. It means early socialization and training are necessary to help them flourish as adults.

Elf Cat Lifespan and Health Issues

The average lifespan of an elf cat is between 8 and 14 years, with some living longer. But due to their gained genetic diversity from their mixed ancestry, some health issues tend to be more prevalent in elf cats.

If you are planning to own an elf cat, you need to watch out for the following health conditions:

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM): An elf cat with HCM develops an enlarged heart. This progressive condition is typically accompanied by shortness of breath, fainting spells, and abnormal heart sounds.
  • Feline Urticaria Pigmentosa: Urticaria pigmentosa is a genetic disorder that causes raised, red bumps on the skin of Sphynx, Devon Rex, and elf cat breeds. While it is not contagious, it can be hard to manage if left untreated for too long.
  • Body Temperature Regulation Problems: Even though elf cats’ curled ears don’t cause them any problems, their hairless skin does. They can’t regulate their body temperature very well, so they are more likely to get overheated or chilled than other cats.

As shown above, elf cats can suffer from many health issues. From skin problems to heart disease and even cancer, this hairless cat breed is not always as healthy as it should be.

However, with proper care and preparation, your elf cat’s life expectancy can dramatically increase. Some ways to do this are by investing in a pet insurance policy and regularly visiting your vet for checkups.

How to Take Care of Your Elf Cat

A hairless elf cat with wrinkles

Owning an elf cat is a serious responsibility, so you need to know how to take care of it properly. Because if you don’t, you might end up with a sick or injured feline companion.

But to make things easier for you, this section will outline the basics of how to take care of your elf cat, including its dietary, grooming, cleaning, training, and exercise requirements.

Food and Diet

As a general rule, your elf cat should be given a high-quality diet that is suitable for its age, size, weight, and overall health. But note that cat nutritionists suggest that ½ to 1 cup per day is sufficient for most felines.

However, if your elf cat is still growing or perhaps even pregnant, you will need to increase the amount of cat food they consume daily. It is also beneficial to switch them to a diet that is high in protein and low in fat.

For obese and spayed/neutered elf cats, on the other hand, you may want to consider switching them over to a low-calorie diet instead.

But no matter how old or heavy your elf cat is, it is safe to feed them treats. Just remember not to overfeed them, though, as this can result in many health problems.

Cleaning and Grooming

While it is true that elf cats do not shed heavily, their skin is still sensitive to dirt, dead skin cells, and other irritants. In reality, some owners say that their little ones may get a bit of acne if they are not cleaned properly.

Therefore, regular wiping with a damp cloth and mild soap is recommended for elf cats.

Bathing them once every two weeks is also necessary, as their sensitive skin is prone to oil build-up.

Training and Exercise

When it comes to training and socialization, elf cats are generally easy to work with. They’re amiable, cheerful, and clever, so you’ll have no trouble getting them to do what you want.

However, positive reinforcement will be the most effective method for training your elf cat. You can accomplish this by providing it with treats, toys, and catnip.

In terms of exercise, 10 to 15 minutes of playtime daily is sufficient for keeping your elf cat in shape. But keep in mind that most activities are best done indoors, as elf cats are sensitive to the sun.

Ultimately, it’s vital to remember that cats are family members and should be treated as such.

How Much Does an Elf Cat Cost? Kitten Prices & Expenses

Four elf cat kittens for sale and adoption

Compared to American Curls and Sphynx cats, an elf cat typically costs somewhere in the middle, between $1,500 and $3,000. This price is driven by many factors, such as its rarity and your chosen breeder’s reputation.

Despite the extreme rarity and high demand for hairless cat breeds, you can still find them at shelters and rescue organizations. In fact, for about $200 to $800, you can adopt your very own elf cat.

On top of the cost of the cat itself, the following are some initial expenses associated with owning a Sphynx cat elf breed:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$20 – $50
Food and Water Bowls$10 – $25
Litter Box$20 – $160
Litter Sand$15 – $25
Collar and ID Tag$5 – $20
Cat Bed$15 – $30
Cat Carrier$20 – $60
Toys and Scratching Post$15 – $70
Grooming Essentials$25 – $35
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $250
Initial Vaccine Shots$25 – $50
Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medications$30 – $100
Neutering or Spaying$200 – $500
Microchip$40 – $60
Miscellaneous Supplies$15 – $30
Total Initial Cost$555 – $1,465

It is clear that owning this hairless cat breed is not cheap. But bear in mind that the expenses listed above are only estimates.

In addition, there are many ways to save money on your Sphynx elf cat’s care. For instance, you can buy cat food in bulk, make do-it-yourself cat toys, and groom your cat at home.

Places to Find Elf Cat Kittens for Sale and Adoption

Searching for elf Sphynx kittens for sale and adoption can be a challenging task. With so many kitty mills, as well as unreliable breeders and pet stores out there, it’s hard to know where to start looking.

To help you out, below are some reputable sources where you can look for elf cats for sale:

  • NoCoatKitty – People residing in Southern New Jersey and Miami can purchase elf kittens from NoCoatKitty. Their hairless cats cost around $1,800 to $3,000, and deposits are accepted once an elf cat is 5 to 6 weeks old.
  • Paradise Kittens – As a TICA-registered cattery, Paradise Kittens is committed to providing only the best quality felines. Their Sphynx elf kittens for sale are also very healthy and come with all of the required vaccinations.
  • Furless Feline Sphynx Cattery – Located in Texas, Furless Feline Sphynx Cattery specializes in breeding and selling purebred Sphynx and Sphynx hybrids, including the elf cat. To reserve an elf cat from them, though, note that a deposit fee of $500 is required.

Make sure to also check out our recommended Sphynx breeders. A few might have kittens available right now, while others may have some in their future litters. Either way, these are all good places to start your hunt.

Aside from buying a Sphynx elf kitten, you can also adopt one from a local shelter. Sadly, these adorable hairless cats often end up in shelters when their owners cannot take care of them anymore.

Thus, if you prefer to adopt an elf cat, you can check the following sources:

  • Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue (SPCR) – Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue has a wide variety of cats available for adoption, so they will likely have an elfin cat that matches your preferences. Their adoption fee ranges between $75 and $600.
  • Kitten Rescue – Since its inception in 1997, Kitten Rescue has helped over 31,000 cats find their forever homes. Given this track record, the chances that they have an elf cat available for adoption are high.
  • Sphynx Open Arms Rescue (SOAR) – While Sphynx Open Arms Rescue specializes in saving the Sphynx parents of elf cats, they also sometimes have elf kittens available for adoption. Further, they have an active Facebook page where you can check for updates about their adoptable cats.

All in all, in adopting a pet, it’s important to do your research in order to ensure that you are getting a healthy cat.

Pros and Cons of Owning an Elf Cat

Cute elf cat kitten with big ears

Although Sphynx elf cats are highly amusing and enjoyable to own, there are certain aspects of elf cat ownership that you should consider before making the leap.

To begin, the following are a few of the pros of owning an elf cat:

  • Low-shedding cat breed: Similar to Sphynx cats, an elfin cat belongs to the hairless cat breed category. This means that it does not shed as much as other cats and is generally more allergy-friendly. But note that it is normal to find fine hair around its eyes, nose, and genital area.
  • Quite an eye-catcher: Since the standard elf Sphynx cat has no coat and can be very small, it is tough to ignore them when they are around. Thus, if you are planning on introducing your cat to someone new, they will likely never forget such an encounter.
  • Always energetic: Having parent breeds that are known for their extroverted nature and high activity levels, an elf cat will always have plenty of energy for games, playtime, and chasing things around.

Meanwhile, below is a list of some of the cons of owning an elf cat:

  • Prone to skin issues: With it being hairless, expect that the elf cat will have delicate skin that’s prone to many skin issues such as infections, rashes, and dryness. These issues may require you to clean your pet regularly and apply moisturizer to its skin.
  • Has a low tolerance for sun exposure: Sadly, elf cats are not well-suited for extended periods in direct sunlight. Their skin burns easily and is sensitive to heat, so they should be kept indoors as much as possible.
  • Highly energetic and mischievous: As indoor cats, Sphynx elf cats are likely to get bored and will want to play, run around, and climb. Furthermore, they do not tolerate loneliness well. Therefore, these domestic cats need owners who will play with them every day.

Overall, elf cats require a lot of time, money, and effort from their paw parents. Nevertheless, the love they give in return makes any sacrifice well worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hairless elf cat with wrinkle skin

Are Elf Cats Rare?

Considered by The International Cat Association as an experimental breed, elf cats are quite rare. But with their newfound internet fame, there is a growing demand for these marvelous cats.

That said, finding elf Sphynx kittens for sale and adoption is still tricky. This means you may have to wait for months before you get your hands on one.

Are Elf Cats Hypoallergenic?

For the most part, elf cats are considered hypoallergenic. However, while shedding is not a problem for elf cat owners, this cat breed is still not fully hypoallergenic.

Unfortunately, dander can be found not only on the hair of mammals but also on their saliva, urine, and sweat glands. Therefore, those who are allergic to fur may still suffer from symptoms when exposed to elf kittens.

Luckily for you, regular wiping with a soft cloth — especially in the areas where dander tends to build up — can help keep your pet’s hairless body clean and free of allergens.

Are Elf Cats Hard to Take Care Of?

As with most cat breeds, elf cats are not difficult to care for. They have a reputation for being independent and self-sufficient, which makes them ideal for aspiring pet owners who don’t have much experience with cats.

These cats’ hairless bodies also mean they require more caution when it comes to sun protection.

Final Thoughts

With both the Sphynx and the American Curl as their ancestors, the elf cat is a unique pet that is sure to be a hit with cat lovers. In fact, they are friendly and smart, which makes them a great match in any home setting.

In addition to such notable personality traits, they sport amazing curled ears and come in different colors — such as beige, pink, gray, and black — making them even more adorable and lovable!

But it is worth noting that these affectionate cats require a special kind of care, as their hairlessness makes them sensitive to cold weather or other environmental factors.

So, do you think this very new breed will be able to compete with other cats? Make sure to drop a comment about the elf cat below!