If you're looking for a truly unusual looking cat, the Bambino may be the perfect feline for you. Their short stature and hairless bodies give them an elf-life appearance you won't soon forget.
The Origins of the Bambino Cat
The Bambino is a cross of a Sphynx cat and a Munchkin. This breed hasn't been around long and was first created in 2005. It was actually developed simultaneously in the same year by both Russian and American breeders. Currently, the Bambino is not recognized by the Cat Fancier Association but was classified as an experimental breed by The International Cat Association in 2006. The breed gets its name from the Italian word for "baby."
Bambino Cat Characteristics
Bambinos are a "dwarf" breed and this name comes from their short, stubby legs and small bodies. An adult Bambino will weigh between five to nine pounds and are around seven to eight inches high. Their heads are very much like the Sphynx's with a triangular shape and big eyes. The Bambino's ears have small tufts of fur on them and have been described as looking like the ears of a lynx. Some Bambinos may have a bit of fur on the end of their tail like a lion.
Bambino Cat Coat and Grooming
Aside from their small size and stubby legs, a Bambino's most distinguishing feature is the lack of hair. Like their Sphynx cat relatives, not all of them are not truly hairless and if you hold one up close, you may feel a soft "peach-like" fuzz on their bodies. Solid black, white or cream are common colors for the Bambino, although they can come in just about any color or pattern which will be visible on their skin rather than fur. Similar to Sphynx cats, they also need regular weekly bathing to keep their skin healthy as they develop an oily film that can lead to skin problems if not cleaned, as well as rub off on your clothes, furniture and bed coverings.
Bambino Cat Care Specifics
Like the Sphynx, Bambinos are sensitive to temperature changes and have a higher than normal body temperature compared to other cats. You may want to keep them warm in the winter with a sweater. They also have a higher metabolism than other cats and will need to eat more food than you might expect for a cat their size. Bambinos should also never go outside and remain indoor-only cats to protect their skin from the rays of the sun, as well as very hot or cold temperatures.
Bambino Cat Personality
The Bambino is a cat that loves having fun and hanging out with his or her people. They are a very playful, active breed and while they're definitely affectionate, they will not be sedate lap cats. Make sure that you provide them with a lot of mental enrichment such as food foraging toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and play time with you. They're great candidates for trying out some trick training with a clicker. Bambinos tend to get along well with everyone, including children and enjoy the company of other cats and dogs. They also are a talkative breed so expect to have plenty of feline conversations with a Bambino in your home.
Bambino Cat Jumping and Mobility
Some people may look at the short legs of the Bambino and assume this cat cannot get around very well compared to a normal long-legged cat. Especially if you watch them walk, they're known for a "waddle" because of the shape of their legs. However, these cats are actually very acrobatic, can race around your house at high speeds and while they may not be able to meet quite the same heights as other breeds, they can still jump quite well on their own. Don't assume that they can't get onto counters or furniture!
Bambino Cat Health Concerns
Since Bambinos are a fairly new breed, their average lifespan is still a bit of an estimate. Based on their parent breeds, it's reasonable to expect them to live between nine and 15 years. They are known for being susceptible to several health problems including:
- Heart disease, particularly hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the cat's heart muscles.
- Skin problems which can be prevented through regular bathing with an appropriate shampoo.
- Sunburn and melanoma due to their lack of fur protection.
- Lordosis, which is an overly curved spine.
- Pectus excavatum which is a malformed thorax giving the cat's body a "bowed" appearance.
How Much Is a Bambino Cat?
The average cost of a Bambino kitten is between $1,800 and $3,000. You may find kittens for substantially more though as they're a newer breed that's harder to find. Since the Bambino isn't recognized as an official breed by any of the major cat fancier registrations, you'll need to put more time and effort into researching breeders online thoroughly. Because these kittens draw high prices, breeding practices will vary so it's critical to work with a responsible breeder to find a healthy kitten.
Is a Bambino Cat the Right Cat For You?
If you're looking for a cat with a big personality in a small package, and don't mind the lack of fur, the Bambino could be a good choice for you. They do have some regular grooming needs to keep them healthy and you'll need to make sure they are comfortable during hot or cold months. They can make wonderful, engaging and whimsical companions in the right home that can provide for their care and keep them as entertained as they'll entertain you.