Most cat lovers could name several pedigree cat breeds and recognise them on sight, although pedigree cats are much less common than domestic moggies, and there are far fewer pedigree cats around than there are pedigree dogs.
Additionally, there are only a relatively small number of pedigree cat breeds recognised in the UK, and many popular cat types that a lot of people assume are pedigrees aren’t actually afforded pedigree status by the GCCF (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy) at all.
The process of a new cat breed being founded, bred in large enough numbers to constitute a viable breed population, being assessed for health and fitness for life and being considered for pedigree registration is a long one; which makes it notable when a new breed does gain formal recognition.
The latest new cat breed to gain formal recognition by the GCCF in the UK is called the Lykoi, and this breed has now been formally recognised since October 2017.
However, they are still relatively unknown in the main part, and most cat lovers in the UK won’t ever have seen a Lykoi cat in the flesh! With this in mind, this article will provide a short introduction to the Lykoi cat breed and its newly awarded pedigree status.
Read on to learn more.
The Lykoi is a pedigree cat breed that was developed from domestic shorthaired cats that exhibited a natural genetic mutation, which resulted in a highly unusual coat style that can be either fully or partially hairless.
The mutation in question’s first recorded occurrence was around two decades ago, and resulted in the cats having an appearance that is widely said to resemble that of a werewolf! In fact, the name “Lykoi” is the Greek word for “wolf.”
The Lykoi cat temperament is widely reputed to be highly affectionate, very laid back, kindly natured and generally friendly and personable, in contrast to their miniature werewolf appearance!
There are a great many interesting Lykoi cat traits as well as their unusual appearance, including the breed’s tendency to shed hair heavily but regrow the coat in later life.
All Lykoi cats will of course look slightly different and the amount of fur that any given Lykoi has can be variable in particular.
However, their general appearance is of a cat with a potentially somewhat sparse or largely absent coat (although some Lykoi have full coats too!) that has a notably soft feel to it, with roan patterning with a very uniform distribution of the white hairs, causing an almost charcoal-coloured coat shade.
The amount of white in the coat can change over the course of the cat’s life, with 50% white considered the breed’s ideal but anywhere from 30-70% being common.
The amount of coverage of the coat (or the number of hairs per inch of skin) is sparser in the Lykoi than regular cats, and in some parts of the body, may consist of only soft, downy hair and no undercoat. This can result in a slightly unkempt and so-called werewolf-like appearance, which is the breed’s defining trait!
Lykoi cats are also rather lean, with golden eyes and rather pointed ears, somewhat like the shape of oriental cat breed heads, producing the breed’s unique look.
Hair is generally the most sparse on the cat’s face.
The coat type that the Lykoi exhibits occurred in the first cats that founded the breed as a naturally occurring genetic mutation in regular domestic shorthaired cats. This trait was then selectively bred for until a stable breed population large enough to pass the trait on in perpetuity was established successfully.
DNA testing on the Lykoi has ruled out a hereditary relationship to either Sphynx cats or Devon rex cats, both themselves unusually coated cat breeds.
The gene responsible for the Lykoi coat is a recessive one, which means that in order to ensure that the coat trait is reproduced in litters, two Lykoi need to be bred to each other – and outcrossing to normal-coated cats will not result in the passing on of the trait in question unless random chance ensures that the normally-coated cat is also a carrier of the same unusual coat gene.
The first cats known and recorded as displaying the gene mutation causing the unusual Lykoi coat were identified around twenty years ago. However, as a naturally occurring genetic mutation, this trait may well have presented in other cats in the past, but was not recorded or recognised, nor considered desirable and worth reproducing.
When a breed is as young as the Lykoi currently is, it is very hard to make definitive claims about breed health.
However, the GCCF refuses to recognise new breeds with known, serious and deleterious health issues, and currently there are no known hereditary concerns about Lykoi health, particularly as it pertains to their coats.
That said, the Lykio population itself is small and so, at risk of the genetic dangers of inbreeding, as only a finite number of unrelated cats are available as breeding stock.
Testing has been performed for any skin anomalies or issues relating to the Lykoi coat and returned a result that the follicles lacked all of the genetic building blocks they need to produce normal fur, but no associated skin or health issues were found at the time.
The GCCF itself states that “Lykoi cats are robust and healthy with no known breed-specific health issues,” and the breed was awarded formal GCCF pedigree status in October 2017.
The Lykoi’s average lifespan is around 12-15 years when properly cared for.