The Lykoi Cat is a natural mutation from a domestic shorthair that has the appearance of a werewolf. The mutation has occurred in domestic cats over the last 20 years, but to date, no reports of anyone starting a breed have been made. Our founding cats come from two unrelated litters. The first litter was presented to Mrs. Thomas in Virginia as a possible Sphynx mutation (which was later disproved with DNA testing). This litter was born around July 2010. The mother appeared to be a normal black domestic shorthair. Dr. Leslie Lyons did a complimentary DNA test for the kittens to confirm they were not Sphynx or Devon. As Mrs. Thomas did not have the time or resources to do the work to all the genetic and health testing needed or to establish a new breed she opted to give them to Dr. Johnny Gobble (at the suggestion of a mutual friend, Cheryl Kerr). We were immediately fascinated by the appearance of these cats! I (Brittney Gobble) drove to get the two unusual cuties and their mother. Since we live in different regions of the United States this was a bit of an adventure, but the kitties were great travelers! Soon after I responded to an advertisement that had been sent to me by Cheryl Kerr about another set of similar appearing cats in Tennessee. When I arrived to pick them up I could immediately tell that these two siblings had the same gene as the first pair we had gotten. We see the second set of siblings as a blessing from God! After genetic testing and health evaluation, they were added to the program to increase the number of cats in the gene pool (these two were born approx. September 2010).
Upon receiving the "mutants" (as they were lovinly nicknamed until a breed name was decided on), Johnny (who is a veterinarian) decided that testing would need to be done to ensure that we are not dealing with disease or disorders causing the hair coat appearance. Infectious disease tests were performed first in his clinic. DNA testing was then done by UC Davis to confirm that the second set of cats did not carry the Sphynx/Devon gene (all results came back proving that NONE of the founding cats have the Sphynx/Devon gene). We also performed DNA panels for genetic disease, color and blood type on all the founding cats. At the University of Tennessee, dermatologists examined them for any skin abnormalities (and they too fell in love with these cats!). Along with biopsy samples of the skin, the dermatologists could find no reason for the coat pattern. What they did find is that some hair follicles lacked all the necessary components required to create hair (which is why Lykoi lack an undercoat). They also found that the follicles that were able to produce hair, lacked the proper balance of these components to maintain the hair (which is why Lykoi do molt and can become almost completely bald from time to time). Our cardiologist also performed cardiac scans to look for any structural problems with the hearts. In the end, we found that the cats are healthy and the hair pattern is not from any known disease or disorder. It was determined that it was indeed a true natural mutation and the Lykoi breeding program began! September 14th, 2011 we welcomed the first kitten ever from a Lykoi to Lykoi Cat breeding.
The name "Lykoi Cat" roughly means "Wolf Cat" in Greek....a very fitting name for these guys! After the name was agreed upon, Johnny sent in all the necessary documentation and fees to TICA to have the Lykoi breed listed as "experimental" (basically letting TICA know we were beginning the process of establishing a new breed).
We have noticed that the black colored cats express the pattern of the werewolf cat more dramatically so we are focusing on only producing solid black cats that have the gene. Since their parentage is domestic shorthair (no known pedigreed cats have been involved) we are outcrossing using only black domestics. This is being done to broaden the gene pool and ensure healthy kittens. The founding Lykoi and subsequent outcrossing has all been done here in our cattery in Tennessee. We have now placed breeding Lykoi with breeders in the USA, Canada, and several countries around the world. We are also keeping in contact with Dr. Leslie Lyons and her team who are working on discovering more about this unique gene and the entire Lykoi gene pool!
Since the original breeding, Johnny and Brittney have been able to obtain Lykoi that have occurred in the feral cat population from places like Texas, Missouri, Canada, California, South Carolina, as well as a couple others. Cheryl Kerr located a colony in Vermont and we were able to be a part of that as well (also helping with getting the other cats in the colony spayed/neutered and vaccinated).