Lykoi Breed Profile

Origin & History

The Lykoi is a very new breed that was created after a cat with the name of “Eva Hava” gave birth to two semi-hairless kittens with a striking wolf/ werewolf like look in VA, USA.

These two kittens were Wolfie Silver Lining (male) & Ray of Home (female). The two were given to Sphynx breeder Patti Thomas on September 4, 2010.

She named the soon to be new breed Lykoi, which roughly translates to “Wolf” in greek. Because of this, Lykoi cats go by nicknames such as wolves, werewolf cats or wolfkin.

Medical testing was undergone on the two Lykoi, and they were both found to be in excellent health and without any known feline diseases.

In 2011, two similar looking kittens were born in TN, USA, these two kittens were given to Dr. Gobble, in hopes that they could be used to establish a new cat breed. In 2011 the first intentionally bred Lykoi was born.

Outbreeding or outcrossing with domestic shorthair cats were used to reduce inbreeding and diversify the gene pool of the new breed to prevent health problems and maintain a healthy genetic variety within the breed. Domestic shorthairs are still the only allowed cats for outcrossing to grow the breed.

In 2013, the Lykoi was given preliminary new breed status with The International Cat Association (TICA). At this point, there were now 13 breeders around the world dedicated to breeding new Lykoi.

In 2014, Dr. Leslie Lyons of The University of Missouri conducted genetic testing on the Lykoi. She found that the Lykoi do not share the genes responsible for partial hairlessness in the Sphynx and Devon Rex breeds.

In 2015 the South African Cat Club governed by WCF announce the worlds first Lykoi Champion.

In 2017, the breed was classified as an “Advanced New Breed” and given championship status in TICA. An application for Misc. status in the CFA was submitted in 2017 as well.

As of January 2019, the Lykoi is currently listed as an experimental new breed in the CFA

Coat, Colors & Appearance

A medium sized cat with a muscular slender body, the Lykoi is an eye catcher in more ways than one. The roan coat makes it stand out visually and the intense golden eyes combined with the wide based, tipped and alert ears contribute to its energetic, almost mystical appearance.

For those that don’t know, a roan coat is a coat that has a mixture of colored hair and amelanistic hairs (hairs with no pigment). The ratio of this mixture can vary with 30% to 70% of colored hairs with 50% being ideal according to the CFA Breed Standards. This is found in a variety of other animals but the Lykoi is the only cat breed with such a coat. For example, if a Lykoi has black hairs as it’s pigmented hair, it will result in a silver look due to the mix of white and black guard hairs.

The amount of hairlessness can vary from cat to cat, while the undercoat is always lacking the density of the guard hairs varies with some being almost completely hairless while others being haired. Lykoi will molt most of their hair at least once. When it molts, it loses most or all of its hair for a while before it grows back again.

Furthermore, the absence of hairs around the eyes, chin, mouth, and muzzle give the Lykoi a unique facemask which contributes to its wolf or werewolf like appearance. The Lykoi also lacks hair behind the ears.

The Lykoi comes in a variety of colors such as pure white, black and red. However, black is the only color allowed for showing with TICA, whereas the other colors are acceptable for breeding only. The CFA allows all colors when it comes to the solid colors in the roan pattern. A Lykoi cat is born with a solid black color until the roan pattern emerges after one or two weeks. The only color patterns allowed for competition is mink, point, and sepia, while all other patterns and colors are allowed outside of competition.

Earlier this year (2019), Patti Thomas, the aforementioned founder of the breed shared the news on her Facebook page that the first longhair Lykoi has been born. The cat is white in color.

Males can be substantially larger than females.

Personality

The Lykoi is an affectionate and intelligent cat that gets a long well with children as wel as with dogs, which makes it a great family cat.

Because it is so intelligent it can almost seem dog-like in its ability to learn games like fetch.

Your Lykoi can entertain itself with toys but like all cats they should be stimulated with regular playtime so that they do not get bored and lash out. Your Lykoi may be a bit shy at first but usually warms up to new people, children, and dogs after it is certain that it is safe.

Even though they love to run around and have they also enjoy some cuddle time on your lap!

Health

The Lykoi is a generally healthy cat but due to its coat or lack thereof, it is important to keep it as an indoor cat only. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the skin to darken due to pigmentation, however, the skin should return back to its normal pink once it is kept away from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

There is very little inbreeding in this breed and it therefore has less genetical health issues that unfortunately can arise in popular breeds due to poor breeding practices from irresponsible “breeders”.

Like any cat it can develop health problems regardless of genetics and just because it is a generally healthy and well managed breed, does not mean it is immune to illnesses that affect other cats.

What Makes the Lykoi Different?

The partial hairless appearance of this cat is the first thing people notice. Being the only cat breed in the world with a roan coat does not only make them look unique but it furthers their uniqueness compared to other breeds.

The reason behind their hairlessness is also interesting as it does not share the same genes responsible for the hairlessness in the Sphynx and Devon Rex cat breeds. Scientific research discovered that their hairlessness comes from a very rare genetic mutation.

As mentioned earlier in this breed profile, the Lykoi was studied by Dr Leslie Lions in 2016, and she published her findings in the paper Clinical and Histological Description of Lykoi Cat Hair Coat And Skin.

The principle findings of the paper can be summarized with the following:

  • Lykoi have fewer hair follicles than normally coated cats.
  • The Lykoi has a unique feline phenotype that may serve as a novel dermatological biomedical model.

Their werewolf and wolf like appearance along with their love for playing fetch and hunt like a wolf in packs helps create even more mystery and intrigue surrounding this breed.

Grooming Your Lykoi

Much like the Sphynx, the Lykoi is fairly easy to groom, but should be bathed once a week or bi-weekly. Because of the lack of an undercoat, skin oils can build up and clog the pores of the skin if the cat is not bathed regularly.

In addition to bathing, regular trimming of the nails, and brushing teeth on a bi-weekly basis is recommended. It also recommended to clean the ears periodically with a soft damp cloth.

Even though the cat is partially hairless it is not considered a hypoallergenic cat. This is because it produces the same amount of Fel-d1 and Fel-d4, a protein unique found in the saliva, skin, and urine that causes allergies in humans. For more information on arguably the only hypoallergenic cat breed and why we are allergic to cats check out the Siberian Breed Profile.

Buying A Lykoi

Since the Lykoi is such a new breed, most kittens are sold to other breeders for continual growth of the breed. Those kittens that are sold to non breeders are Pet Quality Lykois and you should expect to pay $2500+, according to the World Lykoi Association.

Adopting a Lykoi

Due to the rarity of this breed, finding a Lykoi for adoption will not be easy. Your best bet is to look at the TICA and CFA registered catteries and see if they have some retired males or females up for adoption.

List of TICA Breeders

Alternatively, you can check out our friends at Specialty Purebred Rescue, an organization that deals specifically with the rehoming and adoption of purebred cats.

5 Reasons Why Cats Roll In Dirt

Everyone that has been around cats long enough has seen them suddenly dropping down and roll around in the dirt outside. This behavior is also referred to as dust bathing and is not unique to cats. Both of my cats love to do this, but they don’t limit it to dirt surfaces, they also love roll around on the stone patio outside or on the lawn. No matter the surface, the question still remains – why do they do this?

Based on research and my personal experiences my 5 theories for this behavior are:

  • Because it feels good. When I see either Thor or Freja roll around like this, it reminds me of when I scratch my back against the door frame or wall. One can hypothesize that rubbing against the dirt, pebble, grass straws etc. really scratches their itch, literally. 
  • Dirt can help cool down your cat. This is probably why this is Thor’s favorite activity on a hot summer day in the garden at my in-laws. 🙂
  • Scent marking. When cats rub their head against you they are marking you with their scent. Other animals can use this technique to spread their pheromones and scent so it is quite possible cats do it for the same reason.
  • Because it can remove fleas or unwanted bugs. Rolling around on the ground can help dislodge unwanted guests in your cats’ fur. Remember to routinely inspect the fur with a comb while looking for fleas, red spots or irritation on the skin. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has a flea problem.
  • To pass the time / entertain themselves. There is no question in my mind that cats find this an enjoyable activity. Whether that is because they find the activity itself fun, or because they enjoy scratching itches (I know I do), we can’t know for sure, but Thor even purrs sometimes while he is rolling in the dirt.

Of course, these are only some of the possible explanations for why cats do this, and it is hard to get a definitive answer. There was not much available in terms of academic or scientific material on the topic so it is left up to us to hypothesize.

What are your best theories as to why your cat likes to roll in the dirt? Share in the comments below!