Do Hairless Cats Lick Themselves?

do hairless cats lick themselves

Have you ever wondered if hairless cats like the Sphynx lick themselves just like cats with fur? Cats that lick and groom themselves learn this behavior from their mothers. They also learn to self-bathe by the time they reach eight to 10 weeks old. 

Do hairless cats lick themselves?

Yes, hairless cats lick themselves just like cats with fur. They do this to maintain the cleanliness of their scanty hair and skin. However, it is hard for them to do it properly because of the folds in their skin. The skin of hairless cats is also oilier than normal cats, so licking themselves is not enough. Their owners should bathe them at least once a week to remove excess oils and to keep them cool. 

According to Lynn Paolillo, certified feline master groomer and certifier for the National Cat Groomers Institute,  the oils of the skin are spread around the fur on cats with hair and distributed onto the hair shafts. Hairless cats like the Sphynx have excess oils since the oil has nowhere to go. Thus, the oils end up clumping together in the folds of their skin, meaning they need more regular baths. Ms. Paolillo further notes that hairless cats should be bathed with a gentle, pet-safe shampoo to protect their sensitive skin and to avoid over-stripping the oils. 

Here are her recommendations for bathing and grooming your hairless cat:

  • Use warm water and suds your cat with a gentle, pet-safe shampoo. 
  • Rinse the shampoo off thoroughly to avoid irritating your cat’s skin.
  • Wipe and clean the ears with cotton balls using a gentle, cat-safe ear cleaner.
  • Make sure to dry your cat’s skin completely after rinsing her off. 
  • Avoid applying lotion to your hairless cat’s skin as she will only lick herself and ingest the product. 

Are hairless cats hypoallergenic?

No, hairless cats are not hypoallergenic; no cat is truly hypoallergenic. All cats, regardless if they have fur or not, produce the Fel d 1 protein, the allergen that triggers cat allergies. The allergen is present in a cat’s saliva, urine, and sebaceous glands. While hairless cats spread fewer allergens because they do not shed fur, they still produce allergens when they lick themselves.

Hairless Cat Breeds 

1. Sphynx 

Sphynx cats are athletic and love being with their humans and other pets. They are charming and enthusiastic pets. Not all Sphynx cats are hairless; some have fine down hair or peach fuzz, which makes them velvety to the touch. 

2. Peterbald

These cats are intelligent, affectionate, curious, and sociable. The breed’s hairless gene is dominant instead of recessive. They have a more delicate bone structure than Sphynx cats and their coats may range from bald to barely fuzzy. 

3. Donskoy

This breed has webbed toes and is slightly more wrinkled than the Sphynx breed. These cats are sweet-tempered, inquisitive, friendly, and like to be with their humans. 

4. Minskin 

This breed is a mix of the Sphynx and Munchkin breeds.  They have short legs but very affectionate and have outgoing personalities. Their coat tends to be most dense around the face and ears, so they look a lot like hairless kittens. 

5. Elf Cat 

This breed is a mix of Sphynx and American Curl breeds. They have distinctive long, pointy, and slightly curved ears. These cats are sociable, playful, active, affectionate, and loyal. 

Do hairless cats smell?

Among the hairless cat breeds, the Sphynx breed is more prone to smell than the others due to its genes and other external factors. However, this does not mean that all Sphynx cats stink and smell. Their smell depends on the amount of grooming and care that the cats receive from their owners. 

Why do cats groom and lick themselves?

  • To emulate what their mothers did when they were still kittens 
  • To clean their injuries
  • To lubricate their fur and maintain healthy skin
  • To hide their scent from predators 
  • To remove loose hair, parasites, and dirt 
  • To cool themselves off when the saliva evaporates on their fur 
  • To feel good and express a friendly relationship with fellow cats, also called allogrooming

Do cats really get clean when they lick themselves?

Yes, cats really get clean when they lick themselves. Licking is an effective mode of hygiene for them. Cats are fastidious groomers and they spend at least five hours each day just grooming themselves. They have sandpaper-like tongues that lick their fur and moisten it. Their tongue is covered with backward-facing spines called papillae which are tiny spikes of keratin. These spike the fur and filter out everything, effectively removing dirt and debris from the fur. They also use their teeth and paws to help themselves get clean.  


Hairless cats have no hair or very thin hair, but they do lick themselves to maintain the cleanliness of their scanty hair or fur. However, licking themselves is not enough because they have oilier skin. They should be bathed weekly to remove the excess oils and to keep them cool. 

Image: / GlobalP