Meet a cat breed so new, it’s only on the cusp of showing: the Lykoi. When natural mutation precursors of this wolf-like cat emerged in 2011, Tennessee veterinarian Johnny Gobble took notice.
“No, I don’t have a gene-splicing machine in the back,” Gobble laughs. “I get that question asked by people all the time.” The breed standard for the Lykoi is written so as to echo Gobble’s first pair of Lykoi, which he bred in December 2011, in order to make sure breeders mirror the original mutation. Although there is a recessive gene for solid-black Lykoi, the goal is to keep the wolf-like appearance. Gobble is working on elongating the curled, opossum-like tail, and developing more dog-like ears and eyes. Unlike any other cat breed, Lykoi have equal parts solid-white and solid-black hairs, which are very soft, despite their wiry appearance.
The Lykoi resembles such Hollywood wolves as in “The Wolf Man” and “Teen Wolf,” with puffy cheeks and hairs that grow in a charcoal frame around their bald eyes, nose and muzzle. The name Lykoi was given by Virginian Patti Thomas, fellow cat lover and breeder, and owner of the first two Lykoi bred, because “lykoi” translates to “wolf” in Greek. “I originally wanted to call them Copposums, but my wife didn’t like that very much,” states Gobble. Despite being known as the “Werewolf Cat,” their tender, curious nature defies the more aggressive nickname.
When Lykoi are born, their hair is black, but within two to three weeks, the hair starts falling out and growing back in little tuffs. At about five weeks, the black and white hairs that separate the Lykoi from any other breed start to grow. Depending on the season, Lykoi will lose and regrow their hair. It was this trait that caused people who already owned a Lykoi to think there may be something wrong with their cats, and had them spayed or neutered, hence the reason they’ve never been bred before now.
Lykoi have an obvious physical similarity to the Sphynx and Devon Rex. Brittney Gobble, Johnny’s wife, who specializes in breeding Sphynx with a focus on health and type, wanted to see if the Lykoi was in fact a type of Sphynx. The DNA results showed that Lykoi are in fact not related to either breed, and excitement and curiosity ensued.
The next step toward becoming a Championship breed is increasing the population of Lykoi kittens. So far, there are seven registered Lykoi breeders around the world, including in France, South Africa and Canada. The goal for the Gobbles is to earn that Championship registry by 2016. Until then, there’s a possibility Lykoi kittens will be sold, but there is a waiting list – a very long one. More than 115 people are standing by as of now.
For more information about the Lykoi, head to www.lykoicat.com or contact Johnny Gobble at firstname.lastname@example.org.