The Lykoi is an unusual breed of cat, which is one of the more recent additions to the cat fancy. The breed name, which derives from the Greek word for wolves, is a reference to the cat’s appearance which is thought by many to resemble a little werewolf. Arising from a natural recessive mutation which alters the appearance of the coat, the cats have a moderate foreign build. They were granted the first stage of recognition by the GCCF in October 2017, and Preliminary recognition in February 2020.
The first Lykoi cats were a brother and sister named Silver Lining and Ray of Hope, found in a shelter in Virginia USA by Patti Thomas in 2010. The breed was initially developed by Thomas as well as a vet, Johnny Gobble and his wife Brittney Gobble who carried out extensive health testing to ensure that the cats were healthy, looking in particular at the health of the skin and heart. An extensive outcrossing programme was undertaken by breeders using Domestic Shorthairs and a small number of unrelated additional cats of Lykoi appearance found in other locations. The first Lykoi variants (normal-coated cats carrying the Lykoi gene) to be imported to the UK were brought into the country by Mrs Perviz Alexander in 2013 with the first full Lykoi in the UK born in May 2015.
Appearance & Colours
The Lykoi is a striking cat with an unusual visual appearance resulting from the natural coat mutation upon which the breed was developed. The very soft coat has a roan pattern with white hairs scattered evenly throughout the entire coat. The quantity of unpigmented white hairs within the coat can vary from cat to cat and can vary throughout a cat’s lifetime, from around 30% to 70% with around 50% being the ideal. While the hairs appear slightly longer than in a normal shorthaired cat, the gene also causes a reduction in coat volume so that the cats have little undercoat and only a sparse down is present in certain areas, such as around the eyes and muzzle or on the feet, contributing to their werewolf-like unique appearance. They have a lithe moderate foreign type build. The head has a modified wedge shape with rounded contours, large, high-set, vertical ears and gold oval eyes. The unique pattern of reduced hair and roan pigmentation gives their faces the characteristic look.
Active and outgoing, the Lykoi likes to play and to interact with other cats and humans. They are intelligent and enjoy active games that challenge their powers of thought. If kept together they will hunt down their toys like a little pack of wolves. They are affectionate and once they have burnt up their energy playing they like to find a warm spot of sunshine or a cosy lap to snooze in.
There are no special care requirements for the Lykoi breed. The lighter coat means that they are not prone to matting but they do require an occasional brush through. They can moult and lose some of their coat, especially in springtime, but this should grow back and is normal. Although they have a reduced coat volume, they do not need to be kept in a warmer than normal environment; they appreciate a cosy bed and, just as with any other cat, should never be shut in an outdoor area with no access to indoor shelter.
The breed has been established with a concerted effort to ensure a genetically diverse and healthy foundation with options to continue to diversify the gene pool through the addition of new blood lines. The cats are robust and healthy with no known breed-specific health issues.