Wow, the Lykoi cat.
What is it? Where did it come from? Why does it look that way?
These are questions that have been asked over and over since the Lykoi started as a breed. I hope to answer these questions and many more in the following story.
The Lykoi started their journey to becoming a breed in 2011. The very first Lykoi cat for the Lykoi breeding program was born to Brittney Gobble and myself in the Fall of 2011 to prove the cats were a breed with a unique gene. The five foundation cats were then all registered together that same year with The International Cat Association(TICA). Since then, the work of multiple breeders, pet owners, and loyal fans have elevated the Lykoi to an almost rockstar status.
Development of the Breed
During their 5-year journey, there have been several accomplishments that the Lykoi have completed to make them different from other breeds of cats and unique in their journey. First, all the foundation Lykoi used to start the breed are from strays, shelters, or feral colonies. It is a natural occurring mutation in the domestic housecat that can appear from time to time.
The gene has appeared from all corners of the world, and 17 of these naturally occurring mutations have been incorporated in the program. This playfully has earned them the nickname “second chance breed” since they all started from rescue cats that may not have survived without our help and many of which were dropped at shelters due to people not realizing how special they were.
Second, they have received grants for research into their genetics, skin, and hair. There is a team of scientists (geneticists, dermatologists, etc) continuing to collect data on the Lykoi to explain the interaction the recessive gene has on their color, hair coat, and the hairless pattern they develop. Third, they were passed to Championship status in TICA in the fall of 2016. That means they can be shown in competition with every other breed of cat in May of 2017. That hurdle establishes them as a breed of cat in the world which is recognized by one of the leading cat registries. And fourth, with the help of many of the Lykoi breeders, TICA members, our researchers, our genetic diversity with so many foundation cats, and our kitten owners, the Lykoi have developed into a very healthy, beautiful breed that many people could enjoy.
People have said the Lykoi are ugly but many have said they are absolutely beautiful. The Lykoi have a gene that is unique to the breed that causes not only the roan pattern (an intermix of normal color hair with white hair), but also the pattern balding of the hair coat. We have seen many cats that have similar characteristics to the Lykoi, but we have found that the cats must have both the partial hair coat look and the roan color pattern to be a Lykoi.
The kittens are born with a normal coat and look the same as any other normal kitten. They have no balding or roan coloration. Then, in about one to two weeks, the kittens begin to lose their coats and start appearing fluffy. They can lose most of the coat to the entire coat during this process. Then after a few weeks the Lykoi coat starts growing in. Typically, by three to four months old, the kitten will have its complete Lykoi appearance.
This Lykoi coat looks like it would feel stiff or like bristles, but it actually is very soft and silk like. People are always surprised by the coat softness when they actually pet the cat. The coat is not always stable. That means that the cat could shed the entire hair coat and then regrow a new one that is more coated or less coated. After this molt, the roan coloring can also change that makes them appear more black to more white. There are certain lines that are more stable than others. That is why the Lykoi cats can look so different. Some may look more naked like a Sphynx while others can look almost completely coated. Some have better masks, and some have thicker coats. The Lykoi do keep some characteristics more consistently. The ears and nose are always hairless, there is roaning in the coat, and the feet are sparsely haired. These characteristics do not change no matter the extremity of the molt. Their coat color can be any color that a normal cat can be. The black is the standard which is the color that most people see and recognize as the werewolf cat. Black roan is also the only color that can be shown.
Special care hair coat, and Shedding
Even though the Lykoi are a special breed, they do not require different kinds of special care. Since they are from the domestic cat, they are treated like a domestic cat. They can eat normal cat food, use the same litter and litter box, and stay in the same bedding as normal domestic cats.
They do have some special requirements. Due to their partial hairless coat, some Lykoi will accumulate oils on the nails and inside the ears. Simply wiping the nail with a cloth and regular ear cleaning when this happens is all that is needed. They also have to be protected from the cold and the sunlight since they have more skin exposure than a normal cat.
Although Lykoi skin has been known to tan in the summer and the hair coat thicken in the winter. We have seen stray Lykoi from feral colonies in many situations where they live outside in the winter with no problems and in the summer with no burns. Lykoi cats also shed like normal cats. They are not hypoallergenic and most people with allergies to cats will have allergies to Lykoi. A small number of people that have allergies claim their Lykoi cat causes no problems with their allergies, but this not enough for me to say cat allergy people can have one. Other than that, just simply loving a Lykoi is what is left for their care. Most people consider them normal cats with a werewolf look.
The behaviors of the Lykoi are slightly different that other cats. Like other cats, they enjoy having people around, they love to be petted, and they love play interaction with people. They are not always a lap cat. They will sit with you for some time, but then they get curious about other things and get up to go exploring. We have seen Lykoi have guarding behavior over children and other cats.
It is as if they feel like they are the king of the home and it is their duty to watch over everything. We have seen Lykoi play fetch, learn to use a toilet, stand on their hind legs, and use their front paws like hands to reach under things. We even had one during play carry an item in its paws as it hoped across the floor on its back paws. They are full of energy which seems to only run out briefly just to start over again. When there are multiple Lykoi in a room, they tend to play and track like a pack.
We have had litters playing when one smells something to investigate and every sibling decides to follow with their tails up and erect like a pack of wolves after a scent. Their behaviors are why many people have called them a more dog like breed than many other cat breeds. But, in the end, they are still cats, and you will see much of their lives acting like housecats.
Getting a Lykoi
People see them, read about them, and then ask “How do I get one?”. Getting a Lykoi is not as hard as it used to be. People started wanting them when they first saw them in 2011. There were no kittens born that could be placed in pet homes. Now, most breeders will have kittens available for pet homes. It is still very limited. There are less than 150 standard Lykoi in the world, and that number includes both pets and breeding animals. Even though it is a new breed, there is already fraudulent advertisements and sales of cats that are not Lykoi. Some people will claim to sell you a cat and then disappear as soon as they have your money. I would advise the anyone interested in owning a Lykoi should get in touch with a breeder, talk with them, and then decide if you want to get a Lykoi.
I want to thank everyone that has supported the Lykoi over the years, especially our dedicated fans. Without the fans, we would not have the positive support to establish this beautiful breed in the world.
About the Author:
Johnny Gobble is a practicing Veterinarian in Vonore, TN USA for the past 21 years. He
lives with his wife, Brittney, and there three children (Ali, Brooklynn, and Obadiah) in
Sweetwater, TN USA. They have been involved in cat breeding and TICA nearly ten
years and have over 20 years of combined breeding experience. Johnny is the co
founder, first breeder, and major contributor to the Lykoi Breed. He is the Breed chair
with TICA, as well as, being in communication with the researchers for the Lykoi. More
than 70% of the Lykoi in the world are a direct result from the work that Johnny and
Brittney have done.
Official Website: http://lykoikitten.com/