Lykoi cat breed: the cat nicknamed the werewolf, who owes his interesting appearance to a strange mutation

László Enikő

2023. April 7 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Although many people might not think it because of its undeniably odd appearance, the Lykoi is in fact an extremely kind, loving companion who is a joy to live with. An intelligent and playful cat, so if you're looking for a truly special pet, look no further!


Many people call it the werewolf cat, because of its somewhat horror movie appearance. But the quirky exterior masks a sensitive and kind interior, not to mention that if you want a truly special companion, the Lykoi will give you one. With its unique, partially hairless coat, which gives it a wolf-like appearance, the Lykoi cannot be confused with any other cat breed. Name by the way from the Greek word lycos, meaning wolf.


Surprisingly the Lykoi is not a man-made cat breed, but a natural mutation that occurs randomly in the wild population. A representative of the breed was first discovered in 2010 in a wild colony in the United States. Genetic studies and test pairings have shown that the Lykoi gene is recessive and not linked to any other known hairless mutation. The breed was founded in 2011 by Patti Thomas and Johnny Gobble, when the first intentionally bred Lykoi was born from two similar-looking Lykoi-type cats discovered in the wild population. Since its discovery, other similar mutations have been reported in other countries, some of which have been added to the genome to diversify the bloodlines.

In 2012, the Lykoi was submitted to the International Cat Association (TICA) registry and was unanimously approved for registration status. The breed has now achieved championship status. They are currently working to expand the breeding programme. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is expected to grant championship status to the leagues in 2023.

Breed standard

The Lykoi is a truly unique looking, semi-hairy, wolf-like cat. Soft to the touch fur according to the standard resembling a possum. The amount of fur depends on the season. The undercoat is deficient all over the body, the topcoat is very rare and deficient, especially on the back of the ears, the mask (eyes, nose, muzzle, chin), legs and feet. The most common and most striking colour is black salt and pepper, which is a mixture of black hairs and some white hairs, giving the animal a very vibrant appearance.

The head has a modified wedge shape with rounded contours from the nose to the cheeks to the ears. Slightly rounded forehead, slightly longer than wider. The muzzle is of medium length; fleshy, with finely rounded hairless whisker pads. The muzzle ends in a well-developed chin, aligned vertically with the nose; full but not protruding. The nose is hairless and leathery to the touch, slightly rounded at the tip, and has a masked appearance with hairless areas around the eyes. The ears are pinnate, rounded-tipped, vertical and erect. Its eyes are large, walnut-shaped, slanted upwards. The body is slightly slender and elegant. The neck is of medium length; neither thin nor very muscular. The legs and feet are sparsely furred, moderately long and muscular. The toes are long. The tail is shorter than the body and tapers towards the end. Expected lifetime 12-15 years.


A Lykoi is an extremely friendly, intelligent and energetic cat. It’s really easy to live with. He’s happy to play fetch, but for him it’s all about having fun and being with the people he loves. He is not afraid to show his love, if he wants to be cuddled he will show it to his owner. As he is very clever, you may want to teach him tricks to exercise his sharp wits. His owner is guaranteed not to get bored with such a playful and lovable cat!

Ideal environment

He is adaptable and really pleasant to live with. He is very social and friendly, whether with his owner, guests, other animals or children. Because he is very lively and playful, he is an excellent playmate, but if he doesn’t have a partner, he can also entertain himself on his own. But you shouldn’t leave him alone for too long, because he needs company and without it, he gets lonely. He also gets on well with strangers and welcomes them when they come to visit. He is only suitable for indoor keeping as his coat makes him sensitive to weather changes. He can easily burn in summer, and in winter, his sparsely furred body can get cold.


Its unique coat requires special care. The Lykoi are sometimes sheds all its fur and grows a new one instead, so a thorough combing is needed. If you use a brush, make sure the bristles are extremely soft so they don’t scratch the sensitive skin. As with the completely hairless breeds the Lykoi need more frequent bathing than a normal cat. Bathing with a moisturising shampoo removes excess oil from the skin and prevents pores from clogging, which can lead to blackheads. How often Lykoi needs a bath varies from cat to cat.

As the Lykoi has a very sparse coat, the oils in the skin sometimes accumulate on the claws and ears. It is therefore very important to check and clean them regularly. If his ears look dirty, gently wipe them with a soft, damp cloth. Claws should be trimmed from time to time if they become too long. If excess oil builds up on the claws, as mentioned above, it is easy to remove with a damp cloth.

Common health problems

The Lykoi is a very new breed, so there are no known health problems typical of it. Some people mention skin problems, but a properly and regularly groomed animal will not have such problems. Typical Lykoi diseases are those that can develop in all other cats, but are not breed specific.

cat breeds lykoi semi hairless cat

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