Eyona the werewolf kitten rescued in Cape Town by the TEARS
Animal Rescue Feral Cat Project
by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
The colouring, stance, and partly hairless face of these cats give them a look much like a wolf, hence the name Lykoi, taken from the Greek word Lycos, meaning wolf.
Although odd-looking, these are real cats who have inherited a gene mutation which affects the growth and colour of their coats, being a mixture of white and coloured hairs and random patches where the hair does not grow. There have been sightings of these cats in wild and feral colonies around the world; now they are a registered breed in America and are being purposefully bred.
Kittens are born with a normal coat; when the kitten coat is lost the new coat will form in some kittens in the litter. Although any colour can appear with the white, black is the most popular colour as the cat looks more wolf-ish. Lykoi moult at undetermined intervals, and hair re-growth may be different to the previous coat.
The fur covering can be quite thin as there is no undercoat. Lykoi are very sensitive to heat and their skin can darken when they are in the sun or feeling too hot. When they cool down their skin will return to its natural pink colour. Cats that live in warmer climates may have less hair than those that live in cooler places. Even with less hair than most cats, they can still cause allergies in cat-sensitive people.
The Lykoi share many traits with wild or feral cats; they have a high prey-drive, are scent-driven, always aware of their surroundings, active, intelligent, and cautious in new situations. As family cats that are loyal, protective, and social towards people and other animals.
Being descendants of domestic and feral cats, they tend to be healthy with no known health issues. They do need protection from the sun and cold, and some help with removing excess oil from their coats.
Their size and weight is similar to a domestic cat, around 4Kg for a male and 3Kg for a female. They have short legs and their tails are shorter than their bodies, which gives them a stocky appearance, although they are naturally lean cats.
While there are always people who want something novel, different and unique, is it ethical and in the best interest of cat to create a new breed of cat based on a genetic default when there are so many perfect and healthy stray, feral and homeless cats? In a natural environment would these survive for long with their reduced coat offering little protection from the environment and weather?