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Throughout history, mankind has clamored for a cat that looked like Lon Chaney. And the Lykoi cat breed is here to answer that need.
Also sometimes called a “wolf cat,” the Lykoi is certainly one of the most visually unique cat breeds in the world. Despite their feral appearance, they are friendly, affectionate, playful cats who get along with humans and other animals.
There’s no way around it: The Lykoi might be a...challenging cat to love. This werewolf-like cat is generally medium sized with a slender, toned body and wedge-shaped head that features a hairless “mask” of skin around its eyes, nose, muzzle and backs of the ears. Some Lykois are even completely hairless. This often gets them confused with Sphynx cats, though the two share no genetic connection.
What coat the Lykoi does have is fine, short and has a coarse appearance, despite being relatively soft. Black roan Lykoi cats are the standard color, with a slightly silvery appearance. The Lykoi has no undercoat, leaving him with just the thin top hairs, which can make them look almost mangy. Their eyes are nearly round and amber or green in color.
This breed is an affable, easygoing cat. The Lykoi cat’s personality allows it to get along well with humans, cats, and dogs with equal ease, according to the Cat Fanciers' Association. Lykoi cat behavior is generally pretty playful, but they also wander off on their own for periods of time.
They’re open to strangers, but may remain somewhat aloof, as they prefer the company of their regular human companions and may stick to them when company is over.
Because of that thin coat, Lykois are recommended as exclusively indoor cats. Their hair provides little protection from cold or direct sunlight, so keeping them well clear of both will go a long way towards keeping your Lykoi healthy and happy.
Beyond those main concerns, the breed is pretty adaptable. They don’t climb or hide any more than a typical breed, so a multi-level scratching post and a couple of toys should suit them perfectly well. Multi-pet homes are rarely a problem for Lykoi kittens, especially if they’ve been properly socialized when they’re young.
Despite their fine, relatively short coats, Lykoi are not considered a hypoallergenic breed. Lykoi are heavy shedders, sometimes even more than a typical domestic shorthair.
Do you enjoy brushing cats? Because you’re going to have to brush this cat. They are fairly regular shedders and, a couple times a year, Lykois can shed their entire coat, before growing it back for the next season. Brushing two to three times a week will keep you ahead of most of the regular shedding, but the cats will also need bathing once a month or so to keep their exposed skin clean and free of oil buildup.
The Lykoi is such a new breed, it's really still too early to have a good grasp on their genetic makeup and potential issues. Getting them checked for all of your standard cat issues, including Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) and heart issues is your best bet. From there, engage in a healthy dialog with your veterinarian about how your Lykoi is aging and keep an eye out for any potential issues at home.
The mutation that gives the Lykoi its distinct coat and appearance has been a randomly occurring phenomena in feral cats for years. In 2011, breeders Patti Thomas and Johnny Gobble founded the breed, producing the first litter of werewolf-kittens.
According to The International Cat Association (TICA), the breeders matched a pair of unrelated Lykois to prove the breed specifically came from the cats' genes. Some Lykoi cats are still born to feral cat colonies.
TICA granted the Lykoi registration status in 2012. As of 2017, TICA has approved the breed for championship status.
The name Lykoi is a variation of the Greek word for wolf, Lycos, TICA writes.
- All of the current domestic Lykoi in the world can trace their lineage back to feral cats.
- An extremely rare breed still, there are fewer than 100 show-standard Lykoi in the world.
- They look like freaking werewolves. You shouldn’t need a fact any more fun than that!