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Feline-phobes beware. If you are the type who avoids crossing paths with a black cat or suspects your kitty is just waiting for you to die so it can tuck into an oversized buffet meal of your body, there's a new breed that may give you nightmares. The Lykoi cat, with its patchy grey fur and huge golden eyes has the distinct appearance of being a tiny werewolf, and its name derives from the word "lukos" which is Greek for "wolf." "The show-quality cats have that classic scary movie look," breeder Johnny Gobble, who is also a veterinarian, tells Yahoo Shine. "Like a human who is partially being covered by hair."
Before we go on, let's get something out of the way: These cats are not an Internet hoax. A spokesperson from the International Cat Association confirmed to Yahoo Shine that the Lykoi cat was recently accepted for registration by the group's board. While still considered an experimental breed, it's the first step in being able to participate in championship shows.
Another myth is that the Lykoi is some kind of Frankencat, but in fact, it is a naturally occurring mutation in domestic shorthairs that's basically been eliminated from housecats but still exists in some strays. "Because I'm a vet, some people assume I created the Lykoi in a lab," says Gobble. "I joke that, yes, I combined a possum, a monkey, and a cat." He adds that he originally suggested they call the breed "Capossum" —from "cat" and "possum" a name that he says his wife Brittney immediately rejected. Going with Team Jacob instead of Team Possum was probably a wise move.
The real story behind the spooky looking cat's origin is that the Gobbles, who also breed Sphynx, were given a pair of kittens that had been misidentified as partially haired Sphynx. (Remember when Dr. Evil's Persian cat Mr. Biggelsworth loses its hair? That creature is a Sphynx, a bald breed that conjures the image "naked mole rat" but has a devoted following due to its intelligence, curiosity, and, especially, its heat-seeking cuddliness.) About a month later, they were contacted about another littler of kittens that had the same strange appearance. These two litters were first lines of Lykoi. Scientists at the University of California, Davis confirmed that the cats did not carry Sphyx genes. They were also given a clean bill of health moving forward as a potentially distinct breed.
Brittney Gobble describes the Lykoi's personality as "houndlike" and says they are little hunters who will "peek around a corner and then run straight for you." They can be wary with strangers but warm up after a few minutes. "Once they attach to you," says Gobble, "They have that doglike loyalty." Their coat feels silky, and they fully shed once a year.
Although the first litter of Lykoi was born in 2011, over the past week, images of the cats suddenly began to zing around the Web. "Likes on our Facebook page have quadrupled over the past few days," says Gobble. "We're being inundated with requests for kittens." Unfortunately, Lykoi lovers will have to wait. The breed won't be available to the general public for two to three more years so the breeders can establish the standard in a healthy and ethical way.
— Sarah B. Weir
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