ALL CAT BREED PROFILES

Lykoi: Werewolf in A Cat’s Body

close-up image of a Lykoi kitten looking at something
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Apart from being a cat lover, are you also excited by new and unexplored stuff? Well, one cat could just be what you need to spice up your life. If you have fancied adopting a wolf, and yet you prefer cats to dogs, getting a Lykoi could be the closest you can get to doing it legally.

Apart from a genetic mutation that brought about their werewolf looks, there are many more exciting facts about the Lykoi. Their varying levels of hairlessness and their unique coat pattern are just a tip of the iceberg. These cats are definitely more than meets the eye; contrary to their rather “spooky” appearance, the Lykoi is affectionate, intelligent, and they make wonderful playmates for your kids.

Studio image of a Lykoi cat on a red background

With so many pieces of information on the Lykoi cat out there, one full package of information would do you a lot of good. Are you on the waiting list or are you still pondering about it? We have not spared any effort to ensure that you have all the information that you need. By the time you are done reading this piece, be assured that you will be in a better position to make up your mind.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Average; not to be allowed outdoor

  • Grooming: Above Average; needs to be bathed often

  • Health: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Cat Breed GroupSemi Hairless, Natural Breed
SizeAverage
WeightMales: 10 – 13 lbs.

Females: 5.5 - 8.8 lbs.
Lifespan12 - 15 years

Lykoi cats are averagely-sized. Their males are noticeably larger than their females. Different people describe the cats’ appearance differently. While some think of them as cute—beautiful even—others think they are ugly and spooky.

Their coat can vary from being completely hairless, partially-haired, to completely haired. The hair is soft to the touch and roan-patterned. The hairlessness of the face remains constant. There’s no hair around the eyes, the chin, the nose, the muzzle, and behind the ears. This gives the cat their famous werewolf look.

A Lykoi cat in a natural enviroment

A Lykoi’s skin is pink in color. It can darken with exposure to direct sunlight but return to normal when the sun is less severe. However, they are born completely black and only attain this flesh color and roan pattern at around the age of one to two weeks.

Main Highlights

  • Their skin condition is not as a result of a genetic disorder. Lykoi cats were bred from cats that went through a natural mutation.

  • They have a distinct werewolf appearance.

  • Their coat varies from hairless to haired.

  • They are averagely-sized with males being larger than the females.

  • They have no relation to the Sphynx or the Devon.

  • Their coat color comes in shades of black and white, as well as a unique roan pattern.

  • The first Lykoi kittens were born on the 14th of September, 2011.

  • The cats are sociable, playful, and intelligent.

  • They get along with all, including kids and other pets.

  • They have no known breed-related health issues, though this is a fairly new breed and investigations are still underway.

  • They feed on normal cat food.

  • Their grooming depends on each individual cat’s needs.

  • The lifespan of 12 to 15 years is just an estimate since the breed has not been around for that long.

  • Few—if any—Lykoi cats have been adopted, although the breeders are working on that.

Breed History

The first pair of Lykoi cats were born to two unrelated litters. One of them—the one born in Virginia—was presented to Patti Thomas, a breeder and a cat lover, as a possible Sphynx mutation. A DNA test by Dr. Leslie confirmed that the litter presumed to be mothered by a normal black short hair was neither Sphynx nor Devon.

Limited by time and resources, Mrs. Thomas handed over the kittens to Dr. Jonny Gobble and Brittney Gobble through the connection of a mutual friend—Cheryl Kerr. Other similar kittens were reported in Tennessee shortly after. Mr. and Mrs. Gobble obtained the first pair.

Through DNA testing, UC Davis confirmed that the second pair was also in no way linked to the Sphynx or Devon. What followed was a thorough genetic testing and health evaluation to rule out any genetic or health disorders that could have led to their unique traits.

close-up image of a lykoi cat looking up

The dermatologists linked the lack of an undercoat to the inability of some hair follicles to create hair. The few follicles which created hair were also not able to maintain it for long. This explains why the Lykoi can become completely bald after a while—even though they initially had some hair. Cardiologists also ruled out any heart disorders.

Having determined the complete health of the cats, and that the mutation occurred naturally, breeding began. On the 14th of September, in the year 2011, the first litter from two Lykoi parents were born.

Since the original breeding, the Gobble couple has been able to get other Lykoi from several other places while Dr. Leslie Lyons and her team are working around the clock to discover as much about the werewolf cat as they could.

close-up image of a lykoi-kitten

According to the breeders, solid black cats express the werewolf pattern more clearly, and hence more emphasis is put on them. Only black domestic shorthairs are being used to outcross this breed in order to broaden the gene pool.

While all the outcrossing has been done in Tennessee, breeders in the USA, Canada, and several other countries can now take part in the breeding effort of the Lykoi. The breed has been registered by TICA under its experimental breed category.

Size

The Lykoi are averagely-sized with lean bodies. The males are larger than the females. The former weigh between 10 and 13 pounds while the latter fall somewhere between 5.5 and 8.8lbs.

Lykoi can be hairless, partially haired, or completely haired. From their indefinite hair description to their distinct werewolf features, this cat has absolutely managed to stand out from the rest.

A Lykoi cat outside in the summer sun looking at something

This cat has a wedge-shaped head and a pair of large, round, golden eyes. Their ears are wide-based, alert, and pointed towards the tips. The ears and the nose feel like leather to the touch. Their legs are medium in length and sparsely-haired while their tail looks rather short compared to their body.

Personality and Character

Lykoi cats are affectionate and sociable. They love being around people, but they can also enjoy some time alone. They are playful and quite intelligent. Some of their traits can be likened to that of a dog’s. They play fetch, hunt, and chase toys. They can also be trained to use the toilet, stand on their hind legs, and use their front legs as hands.

lykoi-cat in a room looking directly at the camera

They appreciate being held in their owner’s lap, but with their robust energy, they would rather run around and search for imaginary prey. If there are other Lykoi, they get along just like a happy pack would. Just like other cats, they enjoy a good bask in the sun, although they shouldn’t be exposed for too long due to their sparsely-covered kin.

A Lykoi cat will protect what they love—including toys and people—but they are generous to those who are friendly. Still, this cat will take some time to warm up to a new person or a new pet until they are assured that the stranger is not a threat.

Health and Potential Problems

Presently, there are no known health issues specifically associated with the Lykoi. However, they could be as susceptible to health problems as any other cats. A lot of examination was done before the experts allowed mass breeding for this new breed to rule out health and genetic disorders.

lykoi-kitty on the grass looking directly at the camera

However, new breeds might take up to 6 or 7 years to display health problems. More investigations are still underway to determine if there are other underlying health issues. Like any other cats, they should be vaccinated and dewormed regularly.

Care Features

Since Lykoi originated from domestic cats, they do not need too much specialized care. They eat the same foods, can use same beddings, and they could definitely do with some clean and private litter box.

The Lykoi are affectionate and social. Spending time with them goes a long way in strengthening the relationship between them and their family. Better still, playing with them not only helps with the above but also gives them an opportunity to vent their excess energy.

Lykoi kitten playing in the yard

Since they have more skin exposure than normal cats, they require protection from extreme sunlight and cold. Keeping them as indoor cats can help with this and also keep them away from other physical threats. However, they do appreciate a little outdoor experience. Since the Lykoi is intelligent, you can train them to walk on a leash.

Their coat condition may lead to them requiring a bit more grooming compared to normal cats due to the accumulation of oils. A regular visit to the vet will also go a long way in ensuring that they stay healthy.

Feeding Schedule

Lykoi cats are known to eat practically any type of cat food. However, cats are carnivorous and should be fed on meat-based food low in carbs. Care should be taken when transitioning between different foods. The process should be gradual to avoid upsetting your cat’s tummy and also to test how much your cat likes the food.

lykoi kittens in a studio

Adult diet is normally introduced at 8 months. Feeding in the morning and the evening works but it is advisable for the cat to have access to food at all times due to their high energy level. As kittens, these cats tend to have trouble putting on weight. However, their activity level starts reducing at around 9 months. This calls for a stricter diet to keep the cat from becoming overweight.

Also, ensure that the food provided is high-quality. You can check this with the breeder or the vet if you’re not sure which one to choose. Fresh water should be available at all times.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

While there is an ongoing investigation to determine the effect of the recessive gene on the color and pattern of their coat, previous investigations have ruled out any link to genetic disorders. The coat can be hairless, partially haired, or fully haired. The hair can be a mixture of amelanistic and black hair, although emphasis is being put on black cats by the breeders since Lykoi cats with this color look more like werewolves.

The coat pattern which is called roan is unique to Lykoi cats. The cats shed all their hair at least once and can go for some time without it. Their skin is pink but can turn pitch black after only a few days or weeks of exposure to sunlight. This can be reversed with reduced exposure.

two Lykoi kittens looking at the camera

A Lykoi cat needs regular bathing because the exposed skin tends to accumulate the natural oils released by the body. A bathtub or a sink with warm water might not freak out your kitty as much as running water. Use a hypoallergenic pet shampoo. A human shampoo might irritate the cat’s skin. A good choice of shampoo will ensure that you don’t strip your cat off all the oil and you also don’t moisturize too much to cause excess greasiness.

The amount of grease depends on your cat’s amount of hair. Your individual cat’s coat should determine how often they need a bath. The ears need to be cleaned regularly as well. You will easily know when to clean them because they will look dirty. There are commercial pet ear cleaners or ear solutions to help with the task. Be sure to only clean what you can see to avoid hurting your kitty.

A man holding a Lykoi kitten

The nails need to be trimmed too. It might take some getting used to, but with time you will get the hang of it. Seek some assistance before trying it for the first time. The dirt buildup can be easily cleaned using wet wipes. Pressing on the nail near the skin helps to expose the whole of it. If you have trouble holding your cat in place, try wrapping them in a towel and only expose the part that you need to work on.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Being a high energy and playful pet, the Lykoi makes a great companion and playmate for kids. Kids will feel secure around them due to their protective and affectionate nature. They might take their time with unknown people and pets, but when introductions are done properly and gradually, the Lykoi get along with all.

Wrap Up

The Lykoi—developed from two sets of litters that had undergone mutation—has turned out to be the darling of many and “nightmare fuel” in equal measures. You either love them or are apprehensive about them. This can be contributed to their werewolf-like face, indefinite coat condition, and their rare coat pattern.

Notwithstanding all these, Lykoi cats are affectionate, intelligent, and they make great companions. They are good with kids too! As far as maintenance goes, they don’t need anything way out of the ordinary compared to other cats.

close-up image of  a Lykoi kitten

There might still be more to be discovered about this breed in terms of health, lifespan, and other aspects—given that this breed has only been around for a couple of years. As the waiting list grows hand in hand with excitement and expectation, the above info gives you a head start if you’re planning to adopt a Lykoi.

Are you excitedly following the latest news on this new breed? Is there any information that we might have left out? If you’re excited about cats with uncommon coats, yet you can’t wait for a Lykoi because cats of this breed are still not widely available, why not check this cat out? Due to their jet black hair, these cats are no less controversial, yet adorable at the same time. We will appreciate it if you could share your feedback with us below.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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