The Lykoi, which is also known as the “werewolf cat” or “wolf cat,” is a new cat breed known for its patchy and sparse fur that reminds people of a werewolf. The name Lykoi is derived from the Greek word for “wolf.”
The Lykoi’s characteristic fur is due to a mutation. In 2010, Patti Thomas found a pair of mutant cats in Virginia, and Johnny Gobble found another pair in Tennessee in 2011. Gobble was a veterinarian and gave his pair extensive tests to make certain that their partial hairlessness wasn’t due to a disease. He also had specialists check their overall health, paying particular attention to the possibility of heart or skin problems. The specialists determined that Gobble’s cats were healthy and that their unusual fur was due to a benign mutation. They also determined that the cats did not have any Sphynx or Devon Rex ancestry and that their mutation was unique to them.
The next step was to try breeding them. Gobble and his wife, Brittney, worked with Thomas to breed their two sets of cats. They also used black domestic shorthairs in their breeding program, since one set of kittens had a black mother. The breeders also found that black cats produced the most striking looks. Thomas and the Gobbles have added other cats with the Lykoi mutation in order to expand the gene pool and avoid the health problems caused by inbreeding.
The breeders presented their cats to The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2015, which designated them as an Advanced New Breed. As such, Thomas and the Gobbles could show the cats, but they were not eligible for any awards. Two years later, TICA granted the Lykoi Championship status, which meant the cats could now compete for prizes. The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) also recognizes the Lykoi as a Championship breed.
Why do Lykoi cats look the way they do?
As already mentioned, Lykoi cats owe their looks to a mutation. They have a mutated gene that interrupts the growth of their fur. Most Lykoi cats have no fur at all around their toes, eyes, and nose. They also have no undercoat. Lykoi cats go through cycles during which they shed and lose most of their hair.
While the Lykoi’s sparse fur doesn’t impair their health, it does increase their susceptibility to both sunburn and hypothermia. They should thus be kept indoors.
A Lykoi’s partial hairlessness also means that skin oils will build up in their ears and around their claws. Like the Sphynx cat, Lykoi cats will need to be bathed to keep the oils under control.
What are Lykoi cats like?
Most Lykoi cats have a roan coat in which the largely black fur is interspersed with white hairs. Breeders have gradually been working with other colors, but only roan cats can be shown.
Lykoi are medium-sized cats with slim builds. Males are typically larger than females.
The Lykoi’s personality is often described as “dog-like.” They are affectionate, curious, and, they enjoy games like fetch. They are energetic and would rather play with their people rather than sit in someone’s lap.
Lykoi cats are still rare and are thus expensive. The kittens grow and develop a bit more slowly than most other cats and are thus not ready to be adopted out until they are between 12 and 14 weeks old.