Lykoi: a Lively “Monster” in the Social Media Hype

When you first see the Lykoi, many people start to ponder: Is there a were-cat sneaking up there? Regardless of the glow of the full moon, the shaggy velvet paw is a genuine pedigree cat that is enjoying increasing popularity. No wonder: the Lykoi combines an extraordinary look with an endearing personality. However, there are also critical voices about the American trend breed. Find out more about the “Werewolf Cat” and her rise to social media stardom here.

Lykoi: character

As fierce as they look, Lykoi is a friendly, outgoing creature. They curiously explore their surroundings, take an active part in the lives of their “can openers” and demand to be stroked – just like other short-haired house cats, from which they differ only in their sparse fur. At first, Lykoi encounters strangers and situations cautiously and cautiously but warms up quickly as soon as the situation proves to be safe.

The Lykoi is an intelligent and resourceful cat that is active and playful but also enjoys its rest periods. Fummel toys suit their cleverness because boredom must not set in. Everything unknown is examined with the help of the nose. For a while, they easily engage in toys on their own.

A prominent trait of the Lykoi is their sociability: at least one of their own kind, as well as people who take time for the velvet paw, should be present. Games, exploration, and action are more important than chilling out.

Keeping and caring for the Lykoi

As the owner of a Lykoi, you have to take into account that the special look of the cat brings with it special responsibilities. The fur, which is only present in a rudimentary form, can hardly fulfill its actual task – protection from the weather and other external influences. A koi must be kept indoors and supervised at all times: if it escapes into the open, it would not be able to survive there for long.

It is difficult to care for the coat with conventional brushes and combs because there is a risk of injury from the bristles and tines. You, therefore, need extra soft accessories. In addition, a sebum film quickly forms on the cat’s skin, since the body fat is not distributed by hair. Similar to Sphynx cats, it makes sense to bathe the cat sporadically if necessary. This is important, as otherwise mites and infections of the ears are encouraged.

Other than that, Lykoi has the same needs as other cats, with no specific dietary requirements appearing to exist. Look for high-quality cat food with a lot of meat and little fat and sugar.

Colors of the Lykoi

Lykoi have their own coat color: Their coat consists of black and “melanistic” hair (with reduced color pigments) without an undercoat. Depending on the weighting, the overall color can change from almost black to almost white. The technical term for this is “prickly hair” – seen among cats exclusively in Lykoi. The fact that the overall greyish color dominates in the breed is due to chance since one of the progenitors was black and was deliberately bred with black cats.

The lack of fur around the eyes, nose, and the snout is reminiscent of a mask and evokes associations with a wolf’s face (the Greek word “koi” means “wolves”.) The hairiness of a Lykoi can be different: There are specimens with thicker hair growth and those that appear practically naked. Despite its wiry look, the fur is very soft.

The History of the Lykoi

The Lykoi owes its appearance to a natural genetic mutation that occurs among shorthaired cats, resulting in partial or complete hairlessness or a wavy coat. In the Lykoi, such a gene is responsible for the animals developing tufts of fur on the head and body on the one hand and hairless body parts on the other. This gives their generally thin coat a shaggy appearance that is in stark contrast to the smooth or fluffy coats of other breeds. Because the hair on the paws is also missing or sparse, the toes look like long fingers with claws.

It is important for understanding the breeding background that the gene mutation in question is expressly not the same hereditary disposition that makes a Sphynx hairless or the coat of a Devon Rex curly, for example. So Lykoi is not a mix of Sphynx and Shorthair cats, but a whim of nature.

Lykoi breed cats have only been around for a little over a decade. In 2011, for example, Tennessee veterinarian Johnny Gobble and the year before Sphynx breeder Patti Thomas of Virginia independently discovered shorthair cats that carried the Lykoi gene and looked like it. Thomas, Gobble, and his wife Brittney mated the definitely unrelated cats: the first purposeful breeding of Lykoi. Initially, the intention was not so much to create a new breed as to provide scientific evidence: the breeders wanted to show that the appearance of the cats was not caused by a disease but was genetically caused. In fact, the Lykoi gene is recessive, meaning it must be present in both parents.

Exactly why the Lykoi now has this specifically disturbed coat growth is not yet clear. Studies have shown that the hair follicles of affected cats sometimes lack the facilities for producing hair or the components are not in the right proportion to each other. So the Lykoi is still a mystery to science.

Photos of Lykoi, effectively staged by Brittney Gobble, that took to social media went viral: the breed’s so deviant, “scary” appearance fascinated and touched not only cat lovers. Lykoi became real “trend animals”.

The Lykoi was already registered by TICA (The International Cat Association) in 2012. The Lykoi breed is therefore still very young and is in development, there are not too many breeders outside of the USA. Accordingly, the cats are rare and the waiting lists for interested parties are long. If you are interested in a purebred Lykoi, you have to reckon with purchase prices of over 2,000 euros. So far, there are breeders outside of the USA in Canada, South Africa, and in European countries such as Poland and France.

Peculiarities of the Lykoi

Amazingly, Lykoi cats shed as profusely as other shorthaired breeds. What’s more: After the change of coat – which takes place several times a year due to the disturbed hair growth – it can happen that the animals then have a slightly different new coat color. Although such an assumption is reasonable in view of the thin fur, Lykoi does not prove to be predestined pets for people allergic to animal hair.

Lykoi are prone to skin diseases: the sparse fur provides insufficient protection. Even if the breed has not been established long enough to speak of a breed-typical disposition to diseases, the problems are obvious. The animals are also less well protected against low temperatures, wet weather, or UV radiation from the sun than their fellow animals with normal fur.

Apart from these limitations associated with the coat, no breed-specific health problems have emerged – so far. There are not yet enough reliable observations on the question of how the constitution of the animals behaves in old age: The average life expectancy of domestic cats is between 13 and 15 years – the first Lykoi breeding animals are therefore only just getting old.

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