Sphynx kitten takes advantage of pet passport changes to come to Norfolk

Hairless cat settles into her King's Lynn home

Recent changes to the law on pets coming into the UK from abroad have seen the arrival of a new face in Norfolk – complete with particularly big ears and no chance of ever having a bad hair day.

Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder and young Magenta is very much the centre of attention for a King's Lynn family.

The sphynx kitten is a new arrival from mainland Europe and rule changes introduced in January meant that she didn't have to be quarantined or undergo some of the more rigorous tests which were once required.

Proud owners Chris and Sarajayne Harrison took the plunge and bought the kitten from Belgium when it became easier to bring new pets into the country.

Mr Harrison, a nurse on the children's ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn, said: 'We both lost our mothers last year and came into a little bit of money and decided to buy her.

'It was a 525-mile drive and took 17 hours – but she was worth all of it.'

Most Read

It wasn't all plain sailing though, because a vet had made a mistake in Magenta's passport and wrongly indicated that she hadn't been micro-chipped for the required 21 days before travelling.

'We had to phone the vet's again and there was a bit of difficulty with the language, and I had to take her to another vet nearby to make sure everything tallied up properly,' said Mr Harrison.

The couple have previously owned sphynx cats and have a four-year-old male, Barney, who has been getting to know his new friend from across the Channel.

There are breeders in this country, but Mr and Mrs Harrison decided to look further afield to add to the available gene pool and because Magenta has specific markings, called harlequin.

'We could have got one here, but many breeders charge far too much money and we wanted one with these markings. We can also breed from her later on if we choose to,' said Mr Harrison.

The couple could have brought a sphynx cat in from Europe before January, but the criteria were more prohibitive.

Mr Harrison originally had a sphynx cat 17 years ago because he had been allergic to breeds with longer coats, but copes with the sphynx, which does have a small amount of fine hair in places.

'They are not hypoallergenic and it's not the same for everyone. People tend to be allergic to the dander or saliva, and you still get both with this breed – but it works for me,' he said.

He and his wife were involved in showing and a cat club before the arrival of their children, but now their sons are getting older they hope to become more involved again.

Magenta has settled into her new home and James, nine, and Matthew, 11, have been playing with their new friend.

The sphynx breed first emerged in the 1960s and the hairlessness and other characteristics are genetic and not manufactured by breeders. They have become popular and can cost more than �1,000.

Pet passports have been available for many years, but from January 1 this year a number of changes were brought in to make it easier to move animals around Europe and to bring regulations into line with other EU countries.

There are a number of strict criteria which need to be fulfilled, but among the changes are that pets no longer have to be blood-tested for rabies after vaccination and they can now leave their home country 21 days after rabies vaccinations instead of six months.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter