Woman who brought Britain’s first sphynx cat 30 years ago defended it after being called the ugliest in the world
Jan Plumb has spent decades breeding sphynx cats – the hairless felines – with an impressive 45 cats entrusted to him over the years.
She currently has six that keep her busy alongside her role as secretary and social worker for the Sphynx Cat Club.
Jan, 75, raised her first cat after bringing her from the Netherlands to these shores in 1988 and then started to breed.
She now lives at home with her husband Les, 82, in their home in Christchurch, Dorset.
Another sphynx owner has been forced to defend her wrinkled pet because her face makes it look like she is constantly scowling.
Six-year-old Xherdan has a constant angry frown, leaving some people “a little scared”.
But despite their bad reputation with some, Jan has unconditionally loved the breed for over 30 years.
She said: “I am very proud to have presented them and how very popular they have become.
“We started a company in 1991 [The Sphynx Cat Club] and now we have a fairly large number of subscribers.
“We had our first sphynx – Tulip – from the Netherlands in 1988.
“Our friends said they knew an owner after we mentioned the cats. We saw them in a magazine in 1984.
“We were then introduced and they said they had one for placement.
“We took him home and he was quarantined for six months before he could have him. We had no problems from that point on.
“[Sphynx cats] are real cats on the knees. They are in everything, they can open doors and closets. They want to sleep in your bed. They are very friendly.
“There is no such thing as a sphynx. Anyone who has one always has more.”
Expert Jan spent the next 32 years raising and raising 45 cats.
She became synonymous with the breed, founding the Sphynx Cat Club and being touted as an authority on all things related to it.
But she has slowed down in recent years and is now happy at home with just six: Meg, Mkai, Ruby, Willy, Perrrcy and Orion.
Jan said: “Sphynx cats can sell for between £ 700 and £ 1,200. That’s because we have to do a lot of testing now.
“But it’s no different from buying a Persian cat – you need genetic testing. That’s why the price is like that.
“All of our cats are now sterilized – I have been breeding for 32 years.
“As a secretary and social worker, I now take care of the placement of sphynx cats that come from abroad.”
Although hairless cats have been around for generations, the Sphinx was the first hairless breed that was bred specifically for this trait.
The breeding program began in 1966 in Ontario, Canada, when a pet cat gave birth to a hairless male kitten.
However, most sphynx cats born today are descended from three hairless kittens found in Toronto in 1978.
It is believed that there are now around 600 of the breed in Britain.