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Is the Lykoi right for you?

The basics:
Looking a bit like a Hollywood horror creation, the Lykoi is unlike any cat you’ve ever seen. With patchy fur and a grizzled coat, this breed has earned a reputation as the “Werewolf Cat”, and “lykoi” itself is Greek for “wolves”. Though they may be a bit beastly in appearance, they have a beautiful personality: loyal, loving, and devoted to family.

This cat is no Frankenstein monster: the Lykoi’s distinct coat (or lack there-of) was a naturally occurring phenomenon among feral domestic shorthairs. A Tennessee veterinarian and his wife decided to develop a standard and established the mutation as a new breed, but not before extensive examination and genetic testing was done to rule out disease or disorder as the cause of the Lykoi’s unusual appearance. With a clean bill of health, the breeding program began in 2011.

If you think the Lykoi might be for you you’ll have to be patient: there’s a waitlist for Lykoi kittens. There are only about 14 breeders worldwide.

Appearance / health:
The Lykoi is a medium sized cat with medium boning, lithe and slender. The feet are medium in size, but the toes have a long appearance. The tapered tail is shorter than the body. The head is a rounded, modified wedge, slightly longer than it is wide. The muzzle is medium in length with fleshy whisker pads, and a nose that curves concavely from brow to bridge. The large ears are set high on the head, wide at the base with pointed tips. Large, walnut-shaped eyes have an upward slant, and a gold color is preferred, though other colors are possible.

The Lykoi’s is a partially hairless cat – the degree of which can vary from almost entirely hairless to fully-coated. Any hair that is present is usually short to medium in length. They lack hair around the eyes, chin, nose, and muzzle, which gives them their werewolf-like appearance. Generally, the hair on their legs and feet is quite sparse as well. The ears and the nose of the Lykoi have a distinctly leathery texture, and their skin is pink. Exposure to sunlight can cause the skin to darken to black, though the color eventually returns to pink when sun exposure is reduced. Though the coat is soft to the touch, it looks course and even opossum-like with a scattering of white and black hairs interspersed throughout the coat. Unlike other hairless breeds that may retain something of an undercoat-like down, the Lykoi’s fur is composed of guard hairs. Other colorations are possibly, but the black roan is considered the standard.

Despite the unusual and somewhat raggedy appearance, the Lykoi has no known health issues. The coat may molt and grow back in, but this is a natural process for the cat and unrelated to health. Like other hairless breeds, the Lykoi may need to be bathed regularly. The frequency of baths will depend largely on the degree of the Lykoi’s hairlessness, and cats with the least hair require the most bathing.

Behavior / temperament:
The Lykoi may look monster-like, but they’re actually a friendly cat. They may be stand-offish and slow to warm up to strangers, but this is a loyal and protective breed when it comes to their family. Active, intelligent, and playful, the Lykoi is often described as dog-like because of their propensity for playing fetch, being very scent-motivated, and even exhibiting hunting dog-like “pointing” behavior.

Though the Lykoi loves a warm lap, they can content themselves with a warm spot in the sun without too much fuss. The Lykoi is comfortable spending time alone, and they are good at amusing themselves with toys and games. They appreciate having other pets around, but only after they’ve been given time to get to know them – however, the Lykoi has a strong prey drive, so small animals and birds are at an increased risk in a home with a Lykoi!

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