Until very recently, I had never heard of a “Lykoi Cat,” also known as a “Werewolf Cat.” Lykoi’s are known for a genetic mutation that prevents them from being able to grow hair normally. The lack of hair makes them look like werewolves. In 2010, a breeder/veterinarian in Tennessee along with his wife, together, known as the “Gobble Family” decided to breed them. Some people see this breed as a novelty. Others are less than thrilled.
After learning about this from a thoughtful article in Nautilus Magazine, I was upset that a genetic mutation that does not benefit the cat was being exploited. This mutation leaves the cat vulnerable to being cold and therefore, this should be an indoor cat only. Feral cats with this genetic mutation die in the wild due to exposure. Should a cat like this escape (as one is bound to do), it will have no way to keep warm. Just like declawing a cat is not beneficial to the animal, perpetuating this mutation is taking away the cat’s natural defenses – for human pleasure and amusement.
Some people who are in favor of breeders will make the argument that most breeds are genetic mutations. However, many breeds suffer health problems as a result of breeding. Thankfully, the Lykoi has not shown any specific health problems; however the scientists studying the Lykoi warn that it is too early to tell. Normally a breed will not display health problems until the cat is at least 6-7 years old. The Lykoi kittens are only four years old.
Similarly, the Sphynx cat is also a result of a natural genetic mutation that humans decided to exploit. During the attempts to breed more hairless cats in the 1970’s, many kittens died. Additionally, some males were not interested in mating and females that were pregnant, lost their litters. Sphynx cats are also susceptible to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold and should never be left outdoors because their skin can burn. Sphynx cats are known to have severe problem with heart disease. And while their coats look maintainance-free – they are not. Sphynx cats have oily skin, and they require weekly bathing to prevent sebum from accumulating in the folds of the skin and causing problems.
My two cents…
Beyond the moral/ethical concerns regarding the breeding of genetic mutations that do not benefit the cat, and the health complications that are perpetuated – I don’t think we should be breeding cats, when so many are euthanized every year. Especially when this breeding is solely for the amusement of humans. Being a cat lover, I can certainly appreciate a beautiful cat and a beautiful breed. However, having volunteered at a rescue for as long as I can remember, and having rescued every single one of my cats, I have a hard time with the concept of bringing more cats into the world when there aren’t enough homes for all of them as it is. In the U.S. alone, nearly 1.4 million cats are euthanized every year according to the ASPCA. That’s 1.4 million wasted lives. It’s 1.4 million too many.
How do you feel about the Lykoi Cat? If you would like more information about this breed, you can read the full article and decide for yourself. A respectful conversation is welcomed!