Lykoi cats have an odd appearance, and chances are, if you’ve seen one, you’ll remember it. Lykoi cats are generally hairless but may have patches of fur, a tail, and pointed ears. Many people say they look like a werewolf cat! Although this breed might be a bit frightening the first time you see it, in reality, Lykoi cats are warm, loving and friendly cats who love to cuddle and make great family pets. We will examine the Lykoi breed further here.
Origin of Lykoi Cats
The word “Lykoi” means “wolf cat” in Greek. These cats are often described as feline werewolves, so this name is fitting. The experimental Lykoi breed is quite new, having just begun in 2011. The breed resulted from a natural mutation in domestic shorthaired cats found in five kittens from feral litters in the state of Tennessee in the United States at that time. The kittens were captured and examined for health problems, and ultimately were determined to have a recessive gene. These kittens were then crossed with domestic black cats to preserve their unusual appearance and prevent health problems, and the Lykoi was born. The first two Lykoi kittens were named Silver Lining and Ray of Hope, and breeder Patti Thomas along with veterinarian Johnny Gobble and his wife Britney Gobble developed the breed. The breed was imported to the United Kingdom in 2013, with the first full Lykoi born in the UK in 2015.
Although the Lykoi resemble other hairless breeds such as the Sphynx and the Devon Rex, they are not related to either breed.
The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed in 2012, and approved it for championship status in 2017. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 2018. Lykoi cats were granted the first state of recognition by the United Kingdom’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 2017 and preliminary recognition in 2020. They are also recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA).
Physical Appearance of Lykoi Cats
Lykoi cats largely resemble werewolves. Others have noted that they look a bit like monkeys and opossums. Lykois typically live 12 to 15 years. They should always be kept indoors because of their hairlessness providing them no protection from sunlight or cold. Although they are mostly hairless, they will need regular brushing from their owners, and bathing once monthly.
Lykoi kittens are born with an even hair distribution, and will lose their hair within their first or second week of life, making the Lykoi partially to fully hairless, with no real undercoat. Its eyes, chin, nose, muzzle and behind its ears are all lacking hair. The skin that is exposed feels leathery and can darken when in the sun. Lykoi cats will excessively molt and shed the hair that they do have, making them look even more hairless at times. After they molt, their color can change a bit.
Lykoi cats are usually smaller than other cat breeds, standing 8 to 10 inches tall and weighing 6 to 12 lbs. Males are larger than females. Lykoi cats, like most feral cats, are known for lean, strong bodies.
The head of the Lykoi is wedge-shaped. They have slightly longer necks than other cats.
Lykois have wide set, tall, pointy ears, giving its face an even more unusual, wolflike look.
The Lykoi have a longer than usual muzzle and a well-defined chin.
Lykoi eyes are large, with hairless whisker pads surrounding them.
The legs of the Lykoi are medium, relative to their body size.
The Lykoi’s tail is shorter than its body.
Lykoi cats are bred with black cats, and black roan is the resulting standard color (black with white hair scattered throughout the coat). If Lykoi cats have more white color in their coat, they may appear silver. As mentioned above, when Lykois are born, they are all black, and their hairlessness develops within a few weeks.
Personality Characteristics of Lykoi Cats
The Lykoi is friendly and easygoing, getting along well with humans, other cats, and dogs. They are known to be active, playful, sociable cats who are affectionate and vocal when necessary. They prefer the company of their regular human companions and may therefore seem aloof to strangers.
You might notice your Lykoi stalking its toys from time to time. This is because they have retained the wildness and prey drive of their feral ancestors.
Lykoi cats are also quite intelligent and interactive. They study their environment carefully before making any moves (perhaps also as a result of their feral background).
Health Problems Common to Lykoi Cats
As Lykoi cats are such a new breed, their health is still a question mark. The most common problem found in Lykoi cats, as in all breeds, is kidney disease. Arthritis is also seen in Lykoi cats as they age, as is hyperthyroidism. These problems are typically common in most breeds of cats.
One health problem specific to the Lykoi cat breed is hypothermia. They can quickly become cold due to their lack of hair. They also are more prone to sunburn if in the sun for any period of time. Again, avoid taking your Lykoi outside or letting it bask in the sun coming in through your windows for too long!
Fun Facts and Trivia About Lykoi Cats
- All Lykoi cats in the world can trace their heritage directly back to feral cats.
- Lykois are a rare breed, with fewer than 100 show standard Lykoi cats worldwide.
- Lykois are not considered a designer breed – that is, they are not the product of two pedigreed breeds, but rather, the result of a natural mutation of the domestic cat population.
- Despite being hairless, Lykoi cats are not hypoallergenic.
- Lykoi cats cost about $1500 each for kittens and $2500 each for full-grown adult Lykois.
- The waiting list for those who wish to purchase Lykois is quite long, as only a few breeders (mainly in the U.S.) specialize in Lykoi cats.