Lykoi have a naturally occurring mutation of the domestic short-hair cat, meaning that they originated in wild cat populations. They’re born with a full coat of hair like most cats, but lose some as they grow older, giving them that patchy, werewolf-like hair pattern.
Gobble got his first pair of Lykoi from Virginia, where the cats are occasionally spotted in people’s backyards, he said. According to the breed standard from the International Cat Association, “The Lykoi Cat is the result of a natural mutation that has been reported intermittently since 2015”.
“The first kittens, they looked like little hunting dogs running around on the carpet,” says Gobble. “I thought it was neat.”
As unique as the cats are, Gobble says it is important to him that they breed with the viewpoint of a vet — prioritizing health over novelty. The 20-year practitioner of veterinary medicine ran extensive tests on the first Lykoi cats to ensure that future kittens wouldn’t have any major health concerns.
Gobble says not everyone is a fan of the new breed, and some are sceptical that Lykoi really did originate in the wild. “People are creeped out by them. There are people out there that completely hate them. There are people out there that hate me because they think I spliced DNA.”
Lykoi, originating from the Greek word Wolf, first emerged in 2010 and was bred by Veterinarian Johnny Gobble and his wife Brittney. They are now the main breeders of the animal.
Because of a naturally occurring mutation found in black domestic shorthairs, Lykoi cats have no hair around the eyes, nose, ears and muzzle and go through periods of patchy hair throughout their lives. The mutation prevents the cat from developing an undercoat and growing a full coat of hair. While they appear to be feral cats, they are said to have a friendly hound dog character. They are motivated by scent and are very intelligent.
To Guarantee their appearance was the cause of natural genetics and not an abnormality or disease of the skin, the Gobbles placed the breed through numerous skin, hair and DNA tests, carried out at the University of Tennesee by cardiologists and dermatologists.
Because of their rareness, kittens from Lykoi go for more than $2,000. Blue Lykoi kittens begin at $1,500, black tuxedo kittens begin at $1,800, black roan Lykoi cats begin at $2,500. Unfortunately, there are no fresh litters at the moment and interested animal enthusiasts will have to sign up on a waiting list on the website of the Gobbles.