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The “Werewolf Cat” Is Everything That’s Wrong With Designer Breeds

The “Werewolf Cat” Is Everything That’s Wrong With Designer Breeds

Really? It’s come down to this, has it? A veterinarian in Tennessee has been working hard to breed a new type of cat. His crowning achievement is the Lykoi, a cat that looks like a werewolf and acts a little like a dog.

Web sites from Perez Hilton to Gizmodo are cooing over the “scary cuteness” of this new cat. Is anyone stopping to consider what type of person is most likely to want a cat that looks like a movie monster? What are these hipsters and freak fans going to do with these sweet cats when the exotic thrill wears off and the litter boxes still need to be changed?

So Whats a Lykoi Anyway?

The word “lykoi” translates from Greek as “wolf cat.” No one really “created” the Lykoi, contrary to many stories on the web. The cat is a result of an apparently rare but natural gene mutation that is sometimes seen in domestic shorthair cats.

The mutation causes it to have a strange type of fur growth. Portions of its face around the eyes, muzzle, legs and stomach are nearly bald. The rest of its fur is patchy and appears grizzled. Due to a genetic glitch in its hair follicles, the Lykoi has no undercoat.

The Lykoi or "Werewolf Cat"

A natural mutation causes the Lykoi to look like a werewolf.

During the summer of 2010, a woman with a pair of unusual kittens contacted Dr. Johnny Gobble of Vonore, Tenn. Dr. Gobble, a veterinarian, was fascinated with the mutation evident in these cats.

After running several DNA, heart, skin and other tests to be sure this recessive gene mutation isn’t a precursor to disease or other disorders, Dr. Gobble decided he wanted to breed for this specific kind of cat. According to his web site, when the Gobbles saw an advertisement selling similar kittens from a different set of parents in September 2010, they knew they had their “founding cats.”

The Lykoi personality is roughly similar to that of a hunting dog, Dr. Gobble says. They exhibit extreme loyalty and are highly motivated by scent, to the extent that “these guys go almost ‘on point’ when they get a whiff of something!” Smart and affectionate, they are said to use their paws a bit like hands and sometimes clasp them as though “praying.”

Interesting and cool? Yes, they are. The question is: Did we really need another trendy pet for people to clamor over?

Currently there are only seven authorized breeders of the Lykoi in the United States, Canada, South Africa and France. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the Lykoi as a new breed in 2012. Gobble hopes to complete the full registration process with TICA so the Lykoi may enter cat show competition as early as 2016.

See a video of a Lykoi kitten here:

Dr. Gobble says he gets daily requests to buy his kittens. People ask him about the Lykoi at least ten times a day. To say these cats are popular sellers is an understatement. They’re a gold mine, and therein lies the problem. A man named Wally Conron knows all about what’s coming next.

Regrets of the Man Who Created the Labradoodle

Wally Conron is widely credited as the man who first bred the Labradoodle, a cross between a labrador retriever and a poodle. His purpose was noble. In the late 1980s, he was trying to help a couple from Hawaii who were looking for a dog that was both hypoallergenic and able to assist the blind.

Others also wanted dogs with these qualities, but didn’t want anything put purebreds. Conron’s stroke of genius was coming up with the name Labradoodle for the poodle/retriever mix.

“I went to our PR team and said, ‘Go to the press and tell them we’ve invented a new dog, the labradoodle.’ It was a gimmick, and it went worldwide,” Conron told The Guardian. “No one wanted a crossbreed, but the following day we had hundreds of calls from people wanting these master dogs.”

In time, everybody started breeding Labradoodles and other poodles mixes, but with no consideration for genetics or background.

“I opened a Pandora’s box, that’s what I did,” says Conron now, with much regret. “I released a Frankenstein.”

For most of these unscrupulous breeders, the only real consideration is money. Much the same thing is happening with other designer dogs, such as Peekapoos, Puggles, Maltipoos and Cheagles. The list of such hybrids is dishearteningly endless.

Conron himself bred only 31 Labradoodles and then stopped. Today he lives on a pension in a small apartment. He purposely chose to make no money from the Labradoodle craze. He rues the day he ever came up with the breed.

“I’ve done a lot of damage,” Conron told The Associated Press recently. “I’ve created a lot of problems.”

Dr. Gobble seems like a nice man with a genuine affection for these cats. The Lykois themselves seem to be sweet-natured, interesting companions. Putting these factors aside for a moment, though, isn’t it abundantly clear by now that world doesn’t need more exotic breeds?

We have far too many homeless companion animals already and yet people are breeding more. Will the world someday heed the experience and advice of Wally Conron? Will we stop creating Frankenstein dogs and werewolf cats?

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Photo credit (all photos): Lykoi Cats Facebook Page / B. Gobble

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311 comments

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8:50AM PDT on Aug 5, 2014

Part 2:

"Secondly, you misunderstand why there are pedigreed rescue groups.They are NOT in existance because people don't want these breeds any longer.They exist because breeders know that in life stuff happens and cats may end up in situation where they need to be rehomed and the owner can't do it...they may have died or they are in some other crisis situation.Because responsible breeders don't want to see their cats end up in shelters these groups are formed so that breeders can work together to find homes for these cats SO THEY DON'T END UP IN A SHELTER."

This is either serious ignorance or a flat-out lie. I had mentioned in my previous comment that I work in animal rescue. I was involved for a long time with a ferret rescue, a small organization with no funding other than private donations. In order to share resources and optimize fund-raising, we allied ourselves with a number of similar rescue groups, many of which were the same breed-specific rescues I had mentioned earlier. We networked and held joint fundraising and education events. I can categorically state that these groups are NOT run by breeders.

8:49AM PDT on Aug 5, 2014

I received this in my inbox, anonymously with no means to reply. I will address it here:

"Maureen, K
I see that you have bought into the animal rights propaganda by your quote.It sounds nice but what you fail to understand is that the people behind this ultimately don't want us to have pets at all.There are certai people who would not choose to adopt from a shelter at all...I have said this befor and given reasons and they are all valid."

While some animal rights activists do want to end the practice of keeping pets, not all do. An alleged hidden agenda is also no reason to tun a blind eye to the thousands of cats being euthanized every day in North America alone, with similar numbers in many other parts of the world as well. I note that this person doesn't mention any of their valid reasons to get a breeder cat instead of adopting a cat in need of a home. I suspect I would fine most of them invalid

"Secondly, you misunderstand why there are pedigreed rescue groups.They are NOT in existance because people don't want these breeds any longer.They exist because breeders know that in life stuff happens and cats may end up in situation where they need to be rehomed and the owner can't do it...they may have died or they are in some other crisis situation.Because responsible breeders don't want to see their cats end up in shelters these groups are formed so that breeders can work together to find homes for these cats SO THEY DON'T END UP IN A SHELTER."

This is eithe

1:57PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Animals are not objects to experiment on!

10:35AM PST on Mar 4, 2014

Kevin B.
Thank you for being a voice of reason.I agree with you 100%.As a breeder(not of the Lykoi, but Korats)I am getting tried of the prejudicial breeder bashing that has been occurring that is not even based on factual information, but emotional gut responses.

5:03AM PST on Mar 4, 2014

Sorry Susan Bird, I am STILL flabbergasted by what a rampant, unabashed BIGOT you are

4:58AM PST on Mar 4, 2014

I utterly disagree - an animal like this is more likely to be wanted as it is valuable and therefore takes determination to get in the first place. Unlike the Labradoodble you cant just have any random take 2 common dogs to make one, you need to find multiple lines of this unusual muatation, and the breed has been professionally screened by Veterinarians to ensure the mutation did not entail disease.
As for the appearance - your opinion on that is what is called BIGOTRY, and you judgements are plain baseless stereotyping assumptions of the shallowest and most prejudiced kind.
You are a sad and dramatic indication of everything that is wrong with the so called 'care' community, the worst kind of kneejerk nimby who forms an opinion based on looks and then goes out to find something to support their prejudice with no respect or care for the facts.
These animals are beautiful - no matter what your bigoted mind sees, and their character seems to be impeccable, far superior to most cats. It is sad that you hate them for not having been around as a stable breed rather than occasional mutation in the past, for being something new and unfamiliar to you. But I guess we 'freaks' are used to bigots like you.

11:22AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

Jen,
I must clear up a couple of misconceptions:

1. You do not make money breeding cats.It is considered a good year if you break even.Unlike dogs, you cannot keep large numbers of cats without running into rather costly problems.You need large numbers in order to make money.Cats by nature don't do well in large groups.

2.By and large the majority of cats that are a breed have homes.This is because breeders tend to breed litters when they have a demand(buyers) for kittens.Most breeders in fact have a waiting list.The cats that you see in shelters that are labeled as a given breed, are in all probability not that breed at all but a look a like.In order to be a breed whatever, the cat must have the papers that document its parentage.No papers,no breed.

8:52PM PST on Mar 1, 2014

Oops, my bad, I went back and re-read, this was natural mutation. But, still, leave it alone. Now, it's just going to become a money-maker.

8:49PM PST on Mar 1, 2014

This is ridiculous. Don't we have enough feline breeds out there now that need homes? Why do you have to tamper with nature to create something new.......hmmm, financial reasons, I suppose. Sigh!

11:10AM PST on Mar 1, 2014

What I see here is a lot of people making value judgements based on assumptions and prejudices not facts and this is so wrong.Mandy is making a very valid point.Yes, this cat looks unusual but there are very normal, ordinary people who like the unusual.This is a cat that I would consider.I have allergies so this kind of cat is ideal for a person like me...I also like Devon Rexes another cat that many people consider to be weird looking.
Sure there are many that choose a cat because of the way it looks, but by an large most people who choose a pedigree cat, do quite a bit of research beforehand, so they aren't choosing the cat for looks alone.People need to stop making knee-jerk value judgements and statements.

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