Werecats Are Real [Video]

werecatsThey are called Lykoi cats because this new breed looks like werecats or werewolf cats. These felines are real and their unique appearance is due to a “mistake” in the DNA of the short-haired mother. This mistake causes the felines to stop growing hair in various places, therefore, Lykois have patchy fur that gives them their scruffy appearance.

According to Ian Chant, a science writer for Nautilus, interest in the werecats is growing. Natural selection would have eradicated the mutated breed if human nature had not intervened. The Lykois came from the domestic short-haired feline, naturally.

In 2011, Johnny and Brittney Gobble began breeding the first werecat bloodline. Science is unsure in which gene the mutation can be found. It is likely there is a full region of genetic coding that affecting the hair growth of these felines, Chant reports. The name, “Lykoi” came from “lycanthrope,” the Greek word for werewolf.

These cats, which have the appearance of werewolves, came from a domestic short-haired mother with a mutated gene. According to the breeders, who are pioneers in their field, this anomaly has been around for 20 years. However, this is the first time, on record, that anyone has bred the Lykoi cats. The first werecats that were tested came from two completely different litters.

The first litter had a seemingly normal, black domestic short-haired mother, but she carried the mutated gene. The kittens were taken to Virginia to determine if the mutation was Sphynx. However, DNA testing proved the kittens were neither Sphynx nor Devon.

There are similarities between the three breeds: Sphynx, Devon, and Lykoi. Each of these cats has little to no fur and the Devon may have patchy fur like the Lykoi. These breeds also share large pointed ears. The Devon molt like the werecats and all three breeds are natural mutations of short-haired cats.

The Gobbles were informed of a similar litter of werecats in Tennessee. They obtained the two new kittens and could immediately see they had the same gene mutation in their own litter. The new werecats underwent health evaluations and genetic testing, as did the first litter.

The Lykoi kittens went through tests under the care of Johnny Gobble, who is also a veterinarian. He wanted to determine the cause of the patchy fur in the Lykoi. He ran tests for infectious diseases, genetic disorders, and blood type. Dermatologists, at the University of Tennessee, examined the kittens and took biopsies to test for skin anomalies. Nothing was found, however. No health reasons were found to be the cause of the signature scruffy fur of the werecats.

It was discovered that some of the hair follicles did not have all the nutrients needed to grow fur. This explains why the Lykois do not have an undercoat. Moreover, the follicles that did produce hair were lacking the necessary balance of elements that would enable them to keep their fur, instead of molting.

werecats

Then, the Gobbles took the kittens to an animal cardiologist to be sure there were not any problems with the heart anatomy of this unique breed. These kittens were found to be in great health, and the wolf-like appearance was determined to be a simple, natural mutation. Based on this discovery, the Gobbles decided to become the first recorded Lykoi breeders on Sept. 14, 2011.

These real werecats are born with an overcoat of hair. Nevertheless, they will not have hair growth around their noses, muzzles, toes, or eyes. Thus, giving the appearance of a werecat or werewolf. Business Insider says these felines behave in a manner similar to dogs, as they are affectionate, curious, playful, and friendly animals, which can be appreciated by watching the video at the end of this article.

Lykois are a fairly new breed and, thus far, seem to be healthy cats. Nonetheless, breeders are wary there may be issues due to the sparse and patchy fur, which is a signature trait of the werecat. If a cat has oil built up on his skin, it can make it more vulnerable to ear mites and infections, according to Chant. Thus, regular bathing is necessary to control oil production. In addition, the Gobbles say these unique cats are vulnerable to the cold and would not survive an outdoor winter.

The werecat mutation is recessive, which means the babies would need to inherit two copies of the gene. Two Lykois have to be bred together, otherwise it is unknown if the babies will have the real mutated gene. A “normal looking” cat could carry the rare DNA, but it would not be known until the feline gave birth.

Lykois do not seem to have the health sensitivities that some other selectively bred animals are susceptible to, such as Persian cats, who are at a high risk for brachycephaly, dermatophytosis, polycystic kidney disease, and a portosystemic shunt, or Siamese cats, who are susceptible to chronic bronchial disease and hydrocephalus, which are all life-threatening illnesses. The Gobbles claim the mutated gene has not shown any signs of health concerns. They also believe the werecats may have stronger immune systems than other breeds they have experienced.

The video below is taken after a photo shoot. Brittney Gobble recorded the Lykoi kittens playing and destroying the set she had put together. It shows how playful these little werewolf cats can act.

By Jeanette Smith
Edited by Leigh Haugh

Sources:
Business Insider: A Genetic Mutation Makes These Cats Look Like Werewolves
lykoikitten.com: Breed History
Nautilus: Watching the Birth of a New Breed the Werewolf Cat
UFAW: Siamese, Persian
Tica: Cat Breeds
All Images Courtesy of Brittney Gobble

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