LETHBRIDGE -- Twenty hairless Sphynx cats that were rescued from a home in northern Alberta last month have been adopted out to caring homes throughout Western Canada.

Sphynx cats are a breed of cat known for its lack of fur. The cat may be completely hairless, or very fine hair, giving the skin a texture of chamois leather. The cats have a narrow, long head, and webbed feet. They may or may not have whiskers.

The 20 felines were removed from a home near Edmonton three and a half weeks ago, and placed in the care of the Alberta Sphynx and Lykoi Rescue Society, which specializes in the breed.

The rescue group turned to a Lethbridge vet clinic for help, and the animals were adopted out after they were nursed back to health by veterinarian Kate Lupton and her team at the Family Pet Hospital.

“It’s a massive difference, to see the cats blossom and get to know their personalities, and that they are healthy,” said Jenn Begley, founder of the rescue society.

When Begley first saw the cats last month, she described their condition as “disturbing.”

She said the felines had been loved, but not properly cared for. They were skinny, had broken teeth, discharge in their eyes, runny noses and foul urine.

Dr. Lupton did initial assessments and prepared a care plan for each one.

Begley, who lives in Calgary, took up temporary accommodation in Lethbridge, to help clinic staff care for the cats.

She said caring for 20 cats and arranging adoptions was a long and tiring process, but also very rewarding.

“Just to see the joy from people that have adopted them! I get photos and messages on how they are doing, and it makes it all worth it.”

“It was exciting when we finished the last one out of the 20,” added Dr. Lupton.

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Dr. Lupton said she knew the cats would go quickly, despite a $600 adoption fee, and in some cases, the potential for ongoing medical issues.

“They are nice cats. Really nice personalities, all of them, so I’m not surprised and I think they will do well.”

Begley said the cats have gone to homes in Lethbridge, Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, as well as B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Begley said getting 20 cats at one time was an overwhelming task for a small rescue organization that normally takes in about 10 cats a year. The vet clinic transformed an empty room in the basement into what the staff called their “nudist colony.”

Many of the staff volunteered their own time to help look after the cats.

The rescue group said the adoption fees and donations from the cat loving community have covered all of the medical costs, which included spaying and neutering the cats, as well as medical and dental surgery.

People and businesses also donated cat food, litter, blankets, beds and even a cat stroller.

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“I am always amazed at how generous the community is,” said Dr. Lupton. “It’s always a nice reminder that people care. Especially the cat community.”