If you thought every kitten rescue was pretty much the same, you’d be wrong (at least this time).
In March, a stray domestic shorthair tabby cat gave birth to a litter of six kittens at The Company’s Garden, a park and heritage site, in Cape Town, South Africa. A team of staff and volunteers from TEARS Animal Rescue Feral Cat Project rescued the kittens and took them to the rescue’s facility to have them spayed and neutered.
So far, the rescue story is the same as any other rescue story, right? Well, here’s where that changes. This story involves werewolves. Sort of.
One of the kittens, discovered under a bush, looked completely different from the rest of the litter.
The strange appearance of the kitten prompted TEARS veterinarian Dr. Tracy Dicks to take skin scrapings to test for diseases of the skin, TEARS posted on its website. The results came back negative, and Mandy Store, the operations and feline program manager at TEARS, was enlisted to help discover the story behind this kitten.
“We even tested to see if the kitten was a Devon Rex but results also came back negative,” Store said in the post. “The mother and five other kittens in the litter — all short-haired domestic tabbies — gave us no clues about our new arrival so we widened our research. We were absolutely stunned to discover that we’d brought into our shelter the rarest kitten in South Africa — the weird, wonderful and legendary Werewolf cat.”
Werewolf cats, or Lykoi (literally, “wolf cat”), are not just the rarest kitten breed in South Africa. They’re supposedly the rarest in the world. There are only 35 of them, reportedly.
“The little Lykoi at TEARS is the first natural mutation in South Africa reported to me,” said Lykoi specialist and veterinarian Dr. Johnny Gobble on the TEARS website. “The Lykoi breeder in SA started with Lykoi cats from another breeder that we began with our lines so those cats were bred and did not occur naturally. All of the Lykoi that started the breed were found in very similar situations. We have some from shelters, some from feral cat colony trap and release programs, and some that were found on the streets. This is why we call the Lykoi a second-chance breed. All of the cats in the starting program were rescues. They have great personality overall, and we have found no genetic health problems so far. Since they come from the feral colonies, I think they have great immune systems.”
The naturally born Lykoi kitten found in March has since been named Eyona, which is a Xhosa name meaning “The One,” the TEARS website states. Those with that name are believed to be “attracted to mysteries and exhibit fierce independence. They are described as individuals who crave affection and understanding, but rarely find it as others do not understand them and may see them as cool and aloof. It is also said that most people will fail to realize the true depth of an Eyona’s nature.”
Understanding the importance of Eyona’s uniqueness, the TEARS Animal Rescue Feral Cat Project will not rehome him. Instead, he’s been placed in a home that will provide him with “a happy and quiet place in which to develop as a normal kitten.”
See, not your typical kitten rescue story.