Last month’s London Cat Show drew thousands of people to see more than 200 cats who were on display. But apparently the most popular feline of the day was Shalnavazz Mehari, a Lykoi.
The Lykoi, which also has the unfortunate moniker of “the werewolf cat,” is a new breed that is not recognized by most breed associations yet. But if the cat fancy has anything to say about it, it’s only a matter of time before the Lykoi will be in the judging ring, too.
The breed is unique in that its hair follicles lack the necessary components to create hair, which leaves it half-naked with a scruffy looking coat, hence the term “werewolf cat.” Breeders and fanciers say the Lykoi is a super-sweet kitty, and they praise its beauty, even when half of its fur is missing.
I’m sure the Lykoi is a lovely cat, and it certainly has a unique beauty. But by breeding this cat, the people who are doing so are essentially creating a breed based on a genetic defect.
The European cat fancy has never been a fan of breeding cats with serious genetic defects, which is one reason why many European breed registries refuse to recognize the Munchkin, for example. But here in the U.S., breeding bizarre cats seems to be all the rage—which is an absolute pity for the cats, who have no choice in the matter.
To produce Lykois (or any other breed, for that matter) that “breed true,” oftentimes early in the development of the breed, offspring are mated back to their parents and siblings. This type of inbreeding also leads to an increased possibility of developing other illnesses and potentially serious behavior problems as well. The Lykoi breed is so young that breeders haven’t been able to determine what potential health issues come along with its inability to grow an appropriate hair coat.
Naturally, buying a Lykoi is an expensive proposition. If you want one, you can expect to pay about $2,000, a good deal more than the average purebred cat. I can’t help but wonder whether the development of this breed is driven more by greed than by the welfare of the cats themselves. Given, cat breeding is usually not a profitable business when done by responsible breeders, but I imagine that the people who developed the Lykoi are cashing in pretty well on the demand for the latest, greatest, most unusual cat out there.
And that brings me to another point: There are way too many people who want the most expensive and trendiest thing on the market, which is undoubtedly driving the demand for this breed. It also drove demand for teacup Persians after an infamous celebrity bought one, and of course, for other novelty breeds like the Munchkin and the Toyger — just to name a couple.
Cats are not toys. They’re not cars or furniture. They’re not things that can be ignored or disposed of when they’re no longer as impressive to friends and family. I can only hope that the people who created the Lykoi will at least try to be responsible about sending them to homes where they’ll be loved for their entire lives and not thrown away when they’re no longer A Thing.
What do you think? Am I off base with my concerns? Do you agree with me? Please share your thoughts in the comments!