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Bambino Cat: Tiny and Virtually Hairless, This Cat Is Truly a "Bambino"

Although new to the feline world, the Bambino cat has already begun to make an impression. This tiny feline breed made its first appearance in 2005 and was registered by The International Cat Association as an experimental breed in 2006.

Small hairless cats have been around for a number of years. One of these inter-breeds, acquired by Stephanie and Pat Osborne of HolyMoly Cattery, was particularly enchanting in appearance and personality. The Osbornes researched this little cat's health and hardiness extensively, at which point they established the Bambino breed in 2005. The name "Bambino" means "baby" in Italian; Pat is of Italian ancestry and thought that was a perfect name for this breed, which keeps a kittenish personality and appearance for its entire life.

The first litter of Bambinos was born to that cattery in 2005, at which point the Osbornes applied for registration through The International Cat Association. In 2006, TICA accepted the breed as an experimental one and began registering them in that fashion. The Rare and Exotic Feline Registry also accepts Bambinos for registration.

Foundation breeds
The Munchkin
Although some have said this cat is a cross between a Dachshund and a cat, it's not really true. It just looks that way. Extroverted and energetic, the Munchkin is ready to play at any time with just about anyone – cats, dogs, other kids – anyone. With short legs and a small to medium size of 5 to 9 pounds, the Munchkin is similarly sized to most domestic cats except for its short legs – something it certainly doesn't mind. This little dynamite will jump around as gracefully as any other cat; it just may take a few jumps rather than one leap (as with most cats) to get where it wants to go. A relatively young breed, the Munchkin's health is good although they can have an inward curvature of the spine known as lordosis. TICA says that this is a "physically sound" breed. The Munchkin comes with two varieties of coats – shorthaired, with medium undercoat and the semi-plush overcoat with a lush appearance, and the semi-long-haired coat, with a medium undercoat and a silky texture. Long-haired cats have tail plumes, ruffs, and britches. Both coat varieties come in all colors. Average life expectancy is 9+ years.

The Sphinx
Although this is a "hairless" cat, it's not really hairless – and the same holds true for the Bambino. The skin feels like a chamois, and is covered with a very fine down. It's almost invisible by feel and by sight. The muzzle, ears, feet tail and (if male) scrotum are usually covered with short, soft, fine hair rather than down. Eyebrows and whiskers can be present or absent. In personality, the Sphinx is intelligent, high energy, and sweet. Life expectancy for the Sphinx is 9 to 15 years.

Bambino cat appearance
"Hairless" (actually covered with a fine down which gives this breed a chamois look and feel) and with short legs, this little cat looks like its name "Bambino," which translates to "baby." The breed has a long to medium length body, broad chest, and round tummy. The tail is a "whip" tail, but endearingly, some Bambinos have "lion tips," which is a tuft of fur at the tip of the tail. The face has prominent cheekbones and whisker pads, with sparse, short whiskers. The eyes are large and wide spaced, and the ears are also large and upright. In adulthood, these cats will weigh 5 to 9 pounds.

Interestingly, although most Bambinos are short-legged (thanks to the "dwarf" gene inherited from the Munchkin), some Bambinos are born with long legs; these cats do not inherit the dwarf gene from the Munchkin, but are still considered Bambinos.

Your little cat is friendly, affectionate, and very intelligent. Don't be afraid to handle your little pet – with care – because he or she loves to be cuddled on laps just like any kitty. Adaptable and ready to fit in anywhere, this little cat also loves to travel and will go anywhere with you without a fuss.

Environmental concerns
Because bambinos have little fur to speak of, you should take care to provide your pet with specially formulated feline sunscreen if outdoors, and fleece lined jackets and clothing for the out-of-doors. Similarly, bedding should be fleece lined to protect sensitive skin.

Because the breed is so new, with the first litter born in 2005, relatively little is known about the health of this breed. Currently, lifespan is generally thought to be about 12 years.

Of the parent breeds, the Sphinx does have some health problems that may or may not appear in the Bambino, although as a hybrid, the Bambino is probably less prone to these than the Sphinx.

The Sphinx can develop a cardiac condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and can also develop neurological disease that's called hereditary myopathy. The most common form of guitar disease in cats, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes a thickening of the heart muscle. Breeders cannot say with certainty that a cat will never develop HCM, so avoid breeders who say this.

Myopathy affects muscle function, and can result in death when a cat can no longer swallow. This is a rare condition that breeders are working to eradicate. Sphinxes are also prone to skin conditions; one is called uticaria pigmentosa and the other is called cutaneous mastocytosis. Periodontal disease is also common in the breed, but brushing on a regular basis with a pet toothpaste can help maintain oral health.

The Munchkin's health problems are relatively rare, except for some skeletal problems (lordosis) as previously described. This, too, is a new breed, so health problems are not entirely known.

Grooming the Bambino
Grooming a Bambino is relatively labor-intensive, although certainly worth the trouble. Bambinos should be bathed weekly to monthly, depending on oil output, to remove sebaceous secretions from the skin. In between baths, you can wipe down your pet to remove oil build up on the toes and skin. Like Sphinxes, Bambinos have oily skin and can develop skin problems if not cleaned regularly. (They'll also damage your furniture, clothing, and other things they come in contact with if not bathed regularly.) Use mild soap; wipe eyes free of mucus and trim nails. A Bambino's claws can actually develop a waxy buildup (thanks to sebaceous secretions) that will also need to be cleaned off regularly.

Bambino cat.
Retrieved August 8, 2015.

Bambino Cat.
Retrieved August 8, 2015.

Hairless Cat: The Ideal Home, Care and Possible Allergies.
Retrieved August 8, 2015.

Retrieved August 8, 2015.

Retrieved August 8, 2015.