Dubbed “the werewolf cat,” the Lykoi is an emerging breed of cat with partially-furred faces and paws. The nickname for the Lykoi is appropriate, because of the breed’s resemblance to a werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope.
“The name ‘Lykoi Cat’ roughly means ‘Wolf Cat’ in greek… a very fitting name for these guys,” the original breeders explained.
Just like the mythological creatures, a Lykoi cat’s fur comes and goes. They are born with almost no fur and into adulthood, hair will cease to grow in at some times as well, according to Nautilis. The felines will go through molting phases and lose fur as well.
“Lykois bear a mutant gene variation that interferes with their hair growth, robbing the animals of much of their undercoat and leaving them with hair follicles that are either unable to produce hair at all, or that can produce it but not maintain it,” Ian Chant wrote in Nautilis. “While they do have hair, it is sparse, and often missing entirely around the face and paws, lending Lykois a lean, slightly mangy look, with eyes that, unhidden by fur, give the illusion of being much larger than normal.”
“These are the result of a natural mutation that appeared in the wild cat population,” veterinarian Dr. Johnny Gobble, a Lykois breeder explained. “They’ve been reported for years, but no one has tried to breed them because there were concerns about their health.”
Dr. Gobble says that, like their canine namesakes, the werewolf cat’s personality often seems more like a canine’s.
“They can be very in-your-face,” Gobble said. “They like to follow you around and see what you’re doing.”
A few generations into the breeding, the health of a Lykoi cat seems strong, according to the breeder. Genetic tests done by Leslie Lyons found no clear genetic disorders in the new breed of cat, according to Chant, who recounted that the breeder issued a warning that it may still be too soon in the breed’s development to notice health issues. Gobble told Nautilis that all Lykois bred so far are still relatively young.
“DNA testing was done by UC Davis to confirm that these cats do not carry the Sphynx/Devon gene. We also performed a DNA panel for genetic disease, color, and blood type. At the University of Tennessee, dermatologists examined them for any skin abnormalities,” the Lykoi website stated, according to The Featured Creature. “Along with biopsy samples of the skin, the dermatologists could find no reason for the coat pattern. What they did find is that some hair follicles lacked all the necessary components required to create hair (which is why they lack an undercoat). They also found that the follicles that were able to produce hair, lacked the proper balance of these components to maintain the hair (which is why the Lykoi do molt and become almost completely bald from time to time). Our cardiologist performed some cardiac scans to look for any structural problems with the heart.”
The lack of fur would make for poor survival in colder regions if a Lykoi cat were ever to fall into a feral community, which may be why the mutation is rare in feral cats. With so many feral cats left hungry or homeless, many feline advocates look down on breeding cats on principle. The Inquisitr recently reported on a trailer park manager that demanded residents stop feeding feral cats or face eviction, and even suggested the renters attempt to poison the cats with antifreeze, which outraged cat lovers.
Apparently, the exact gene responsible for the Lykoi’s werewolf-like features is still undetermined. It is believed to be recessive given the way the traits are often not inherited. Though there have been some blue and also tuxedo patterned Lykoi, according to Nautilis, breeders of the Lykoi suspect that the mutation is primarily associated with the standard black shorthair cat, because at least one attempt at breeding has reportedly resulted in a litter of standard black cats. If the Lykoi breeder is lucky, new “werewolf cat” kittens are born.