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The Sphynx

West Bloomfield resident and business owner shares her family’s experience with their three pet sphynxes: Gandhi, Pharaoh and Uncle Fester.

When West Bloomfield resident Nikki Budaj-Chatfield walks in the door after a day at work, she is not only greeted by her husband, two sons and poodle– but also three sphynxes. 

“I always say the sphynx is a cross between a monkey, clown and dog,” Budaj-Chatfield said, laughing. “There might be a little cat in there in the sense that they use a litter box and purr, but these cats actually want to be with people! They don’t hide when people come over or have the same fears most cats do.”

According to petmd.com, the sphynx is a high-energy cat that can perform acrobatic tricks and is excellent at balancing, climbing atop doors and bookshelves and even perching on shoulders like a bird. A true extrovert, the sphynx is known to love human attention and to entertain.

The sphynx is a medium to large-sized cat and muscular and heavy for its appearance and size. While sometimes referred to as the “hairless cat,” not all sphynxes are hairless; rather, they are actually covered with a fine gossamery down, which can barely be felt or even seen by the naked eye. Additionally, the sphynx is known for its wrinkles around its shoulders, between the ears and around the muzzle. 

“They’re the cat that gets along with every single animal, never hissing or spitting,” Budaj-Chatfield added. “Yeah they tend to freak people out, but they’re honestly the best pet.”

Budaj-Chatfield became a mother to her first sphynx, “Gandhi,” in 2013 and, soon after, to his half-brother “Pharaoh.” When her husband’s cat (with fur) passed away, they decided to add one more sphynx, “Uncle Fester,” to the household as they got used to having three cats around.

Although Budaj-Chatfield had a small dog growing up, she said this is not where her passion for animals came from. Instead, not being a party girl in college actually led her to regularly volunteer at a local rescue and foster dogs and cats.

“My friends would go to the bar, and I’d head over to the shelter to pull a dog,” she explained. “At the time, I had an entire house to myself, as well as a fenced-in backyard, so fostering was easy to do.”

After graduating college, Budaj-Chatfield became a dog groomer, and, in 2012, with the help of the Hebrew Free Loan, opened Scrubbers Self-Serve Dog Wash & Grooming in Royal Oak. She and her husband are business partners with locations now in West Bloomfield and Rochester Hills, as well.

“Because of my profession, and the fact that I deal with hair on a daily basis and am completely covered in hair when I get home, I have zero interest in cleaning up hair in my house, too,” Budaj-Chatfield said. “Cleaning up after my kids is enough, but since I love animals, a poodle and hairless cats is the way to go.”

Although the sphynx seemingly lacks hair, Budaj-Chatfield still prioritizes grooming. Cats’ body oils are normally absorbed by their fur; however, since these cats are not plentiful in that department, they do not have a natural way of keeping the oil on the skin in balance. Therefore, regular bathing routines have to be put in place.

For those considering the sphynx as a pet, Budaj-Chatfield is “all for it.” However, keep in mind that no cat is entirely hypoallergenic, and since allergic reactions are normally caused by the body oils, the sphynx may be more of an allergen for some due to its excess oil. 

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