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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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10:06AM PDT on Sep 18, 2015

Lynne M. First off what happened with the "twisty cat" is not going to happen here.The person involved with the "twisty cat" was a clueless idiot, who had no clue about genetics, was not working with geneticists and I would not even go so far as to call her a breeder.The breeders working with the Lykoi are working with geneticists and a professional body whose aim and concern is to ensure that the cats being bred are HEALTHY.I agree that people must be aware of what they are doing and certain checks and balances need to be in place, which is what is going on in the case of the Lykoi.

10:54PM PDT on Sep 17, 2015

Consider this a warning about the future of a mutant that is repeatedly bred to create a new breed.

10:28AM PDT on Sep 17, 2015

The kitty is adorable but it certainly brings up an issue of ethical breeders!

5:42PM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

This article is bang on! I totally agree; too many pets being bred to suffer at the hands of selfish owners.

But vets and big pet food industry just love it!

3:25PM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

Pat P. This breed was NOT created, it is a natural mutation.For something to be created it must be manufactured, invented...basically taking various different breeds and mixing them to create something new.

Secondly your assumption that breeders do not think of animals and just are concerned about money is incorrect.I should know, because I AM a breeder.We do not make money breeding animals, we are lucky if we break even.We breed because we love our chosen breed.

Thirdly there are NOT millions and millions of animals suffering and without homes.Many shelters that kill animals are doing so because they are poorly managed.There are plenty of no-kill shelters and EVERY shelter can become so.Read Nathan Winograd's Redemption.

Lastly many people want a pedigreed animal because they want to know what the animal is going to be like.Your comment just reflect your ignorance.

2:37PM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

It is unconscionable to create new breeds (even if from an abnormal mutation), when MILLIONS and MILLIONS of other animals are suffering, because there are just too many without homes that will be killed. And just like the old rule of supply and demand, generally, the more there are, the less the value.

Rarely do breeders think of the animals--just a new way to make money, to create a demand for something unneeded. Similar to the fashion or the technology industry (in particular)--keep producing the latest style/model, with new attributes, even though the previous one is perfectly fine. Except that animals are NOT objects, and the "old" ones can't simply be replaced/discarded, or shouldn't be.

Producing more animals, when the overpopulation of "natural" pets is mind-blowing (therefore, we except the massive killing of them as the normal state of things) is horribly selfish, self-serving, sociopathic and greedy.

ANIMALS ARE NOT OBJECTS, yet many of the human species treats them that way.

11:54AM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

I find this absolutely stupid on the part of the breeder, and very definitely anti-nature. What's supposed to do if he gets caught in a snowstorm? He'll freeze. There is no sensible reason whatever to come up with another cat mutation, just ego on the part of this idiot vet. Leave nature alone! Help the cats and dogs who are stuck in shelters (or even worse) and stop coming up with "breeds" the world doesn't need. Lord, how stupid can you get?

10:36AM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

I just wish these people would stop meddling with nature !

8:44AM PDT on Sep 16, 2015

Valentina R, I so agree with your comment !!!!

7:18PM PDT on Sep 15, 2015

That stupid SOB should lose his license.

by the way, the "were" in "werewolf" means "man." Man-wolf. So... not a 'were' cat.

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