By Victoria Cumings
If there’s a kitty on the Upper West Side who will truly knock your socks off when you see her, it would be this beautiful feline. Stunning Charlotte is a hairless Sphynx, a breed of cat famous for its complete lack of fur. Whilst a hairless cat might take some people by surprise, just a few minutes spent with Charlotte will prove she’s really no different inside to the more usual fur-covered felines – lovable and cuddly, curious and cool!
For anyone wondering how this striking-looking breed evolved, hairlessness in cats is a naturally occurring genetic mutation, with the Sphynx developed through selective rearing starting in the 1960s. Charlotte’s mom became fascinated by the breed as a teenager, with her research eventually leading her to become so enthralled with Sphynx cats that she went to great lengths to find one to give a home. It’s not easy to adopt a hairless cat as there are almost none in shelters. Having no luck with rescue organizations or on Petfinder, Charlotte’s mom eventually located someone in Idaho who had a mother cat about to give birth to kittens. Several photos and videos later, she flew cross-country in January 2022 to collect baby Charlotte. The four- month-old kitten had received her vaccinations and was ready to kick-off a new life in the Big Apple!
Charlotte’s pretty name fits well with her gracious demeanor. On the small size like her parents Tillamook and Osbaldo, Charlotte weighs in at a dainty 8lbs. This makes it easy for her mom to take her for walks, carrying her in her arms to explore the local parks and streets on the UWS. Being a feline version of a people-person, Charlotte looks forward to her trips outside. A favorite hang-out spot is the Black Press Coffee café. Charlotte cheerfully sits in her mom’s lap on a stool by the window, quietly eyeing the door as customers come in to line up and place their orders, many stopping to admire Charlotte or ask if they can give her a gentle pat. Perhaps she loves the attention, perhaps the smell of the coffee beans, or perhaps just the buzz of the crowded space. Whatever it is, hustle and bustle doesn’t faze Charlotte; the activity around her seems to give her a sense of calm and content.
Given her unique looks, it’s no wonder the coffee shop patrons want to meet Charlotte. Whilst she is indeed fully hairless, Charlotte does have some light fuzz on her body and a special texture to her mostly pale pink skin, which feels like a slightly wrinkly velvet. A few darker patches dot her head and back, with the peach fuzz also present on her ears and on the bridge of her nose. Adorably, Charlotte has only one tiny whisker! Being so ‘naked’, it might seem Charlotte would get cold. But in Winter her fuzz gets slightly thicker, keeping her warm. Also, unlike most cats, Charlotte is not averse to wearing clothes, especially her cute little striped turtleneck she dons for trips outside. Being a New Yorker, she also has a fierce cat ‘hoodie’, drawstrings and all, and her mom is thinking of making her a tiny hat. Being covered up is also quite useful in the Summer as Charlotte’s delicate skin can be prone to sunburn. Though the breed has evolved so their skin heals quickly, Charlotte’s mom takes extra special care of Charlotte, patting her down with water wipes if she gets a bit grimy and meticulously keeping her claws trimmed and her large ears cleaned out. Whilst not particularly enjoying the ear attention, Charlotte doesn’t mind mom using floss picks to groom her nails: like many an Upper West Side lady, she clearly enjoys a good manicure!
Despite her small size, Charlotte gets mightily hungry. She’s always keen for some grub and, in fact, without a fur coat has to eat a lot to keep her metabolism high, which helps her stay warm. This lucky kitty can therefore basically eat as much as she wants, which she takes full advantage of as she certainly isn’t shy about getting vocal when she wants a meal. Her thoughtful mom has tried various bespoke offerings, such as fresh ground raw cat food, but ultimately Charlotte favors her regular canned wet kitty fare over treats or anything too exotic. Speaking of treats, Charlotte has a unique smell, reminiscent of a combination of mushrooms and potato . . . similar to a Triscuit!
When at home, Charlotte is full of energy and enjoys exploring the apartment, jumping onto shelves, zooming around, then stopping to give the furniture a good scratch No need for fancy toys; Charlotte amuses herself with items lying around the house, such as packaging bits and bobs, and loves to seek out flashes of movement, be it from a dripping tap or a sliver of sunlight flickering across the wall. Charlotte also enjoys burrowing into bedcovers, sometimes staying there for hours. She particularly has fun playing hide-and-squeak, having mom guess which of the little bumps under the blanket is her, then letting out a delighted squeal when she’s found, like an excited mouse or dog toy. After a catching a few hours of sleep, Charlotte is an early riser, biting mom’s toes at 4am to ask for breakfast.
Charlotte and her mom sure know how to have fun. For Halloween one year they dressed up as Elliott and E.T. The hilarious pair caused quite the stir in the neighborhood, with many surprised and smiling onlookers. Given her furrowed forehead and kitten-like attitude, Charlotte’s grandpa, on first meeting her, suggested she was half grumpy old man, half little tyke. Without fur, her long lean arms and paw digits have a human-like quality. But, of course, one is immediately reminded she’s a cat when she stretches down to lick her own feet or and when she shows off her cute-as-can-be spindly tail.
Given the significant amount of time they spend together, kitty and mom truly adore each other. During the pandemic, Charlotte’s gentle calm and sweetness provided welcome comfort from the uncertainty and chaos in the world, but her fun antics too were a welcome distraction from the boredom of isolation. According to her mom, for whom Charlotte’s confident demeanor and close companionship is a true blessing, Charlotte’s theme song is ‘Here I am’ by Dolly Parton. The two are a match meant to be!
Amazing Charlotte – bold, bare-skinned, and rockin’ some serious cattitude on the upper West Side!