Without a follicle of fur on their bodies, hairless cats look bizarre and rather disturbing. But these creepy-looking creatures are no less elegant and gentle than other felines, argues Alicia Rius. In her series, the LA-based photographer aims to capture the enthralling beauty and character of the rare Sphynx cat breed.
How did you get into Sphynx cats?
I’ve always been fascinated by weird things. I remember being a kid and going to oddity museums. I would look at the sheep with two heads with a mixture of fascination, curiosity and bewilderment. The first time I saw a hairless cat I felt something similar; I was so awed that I became obsessed by them. Without its protective coat, every sensation this Sphynx cat experiences I could now read on its exposed flesh. All raw, real, vulnerable. The first time I photographed one was in 2013, but it wasn’t until this spring that I decided to explore this breed further and create a body of work around them.
What in particular did you want to explore?
I wanted to focus on this breed’s anatomy: the pale, almost transparent skin, the way their wrinkles fold, and how the muscles behave with each movement. Sometimes, the way they fold themselves leaves me with very interesting shapes where I no longer see a cat but an abstract figure that is odd yet beautiful.
How do Sphynx cats compare with other cats?
From my experience, they are the most loving and affectionate breed I’ve worked with. Of course, they do seek constant heat due to their naked bodies and if they can rub against you, the better. I know that in my work, they appear edgy, aggressive and bizarre, but actually their personalities are bright, joyful and very affectionate.
What reaction do you hope for from people?
The same mixture of emotions I feel: the fascination of seeing such a rare breed and awakening one’s curiosity to understand more and be left in utter bewilderment.