Monday, December 12, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Lykoi

Genes are funny things, sometimes springing up for no apparent reason and with no real pattern. Back in 2011 Johnny and Brittney Gobble came across two separate litters of kittens with an unusual partially hairless pattern that was unlike anything they'd seen before. Wary of disease, the Gobbles evaluated the kittens carefully, searching for any signs of sickness or disease. Finding none, Johnny Gobble bred two of the kittens, one from each litter, to see what would happen. The result was the first intentionally bred Lykoi litter.

But there just weren't enough kittens to produce a breed that was both strong and healthy, so outcossing was inevitable. Because the mother of one of the original litters was a black domestic shorthair, black domestic cats from the area were used to expand the gene pool. Unfortunately, it turned out the gene for the unique coat was recessive, so it took some time to have enough cats with the sparse Lykoi coat for breeding programs to succeed. Even now, outcossing is common and will probably continue for some time. Though feral cats are sometimes born with the correct gene, these cats are only occasionally used in breeding programs due to their wild nature.

The Lykoi is a medium sized cat who is only partially hairless, which is not entirely unique in the cat world. The color, however, is like no other breed in existence. The hair is a combination of solid white and solid black hairs. The more white hair a cat has, the more silver he will appear, but the hairs are not actually silver or even grey. In any other animal, the color pattern would be called roan, but since only Lykoi cats have this pattern, it is simply called the Lykoi coat. Kittens are born with black fur, but by four weeks of age their permanent color pattern emerges.

The amount of hair on any give Lykoi can vary. They may be almost completely hairless or almost completely covered. They'll also occasionally molt their entire coat. Regardless of how much hair a Lykoi has, there will always be no hair around the eyes, nose, chin, muzzle, and on the backs of the ears. The skin in these areas will feel like a soft leather.

Because his hairless pattern is so sparse and patchy, the Lykoi looks like a miniature wolf. The lean body and wide ears contribute to this impression. The skin is naturally pink, but when exposed to sunlight for a few days it will darken to black. A few days out of the sun will cause the pink color to return.

These intelligent little guys are great problem solvers and tend not to need a lot of help. They like people well enough, but they don't require people to be happy. Your Lykoi will have boundless energy and will play with anything and everything. If you have two or more of these unique cats, they get along well and will entertain each other for hours on end, but a Lykoi is also perfectly happy alone. They're a little possessive, so make sure each cat has his own toys if you do decide to have more than one cat.

Naturally cautious, expect your Lykoi to take his time warming up to new people. He prefers to watch and wait until he's sure that no one presents a threat. Once he is sure, it's business as usual for this little guy. And business as usual typically means hunting for anything from a mouse to a stray paper clip. He is a predator, just like a wolf, so expect him to act like one.

If you're looking for a cat who looks and sometimes even acts like a little wolf, you might be interested in the Lykoi. Just be prepared to search long and hard for a kitten and to pay the hefty price tag for this rare cat.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hybrid Cat Breeds: Minuet

If you cross a Persian with a Munchkin, you end up with what is known as a Minuet. This is what Joe Smith did in 1996 when he decided he wanted to create a breed that was low slung to the ground and yet had some of the more appealing features of the Persian. Because he had a particular look in mind, he used doll-faced Persians in his breeding program. They naturally had a longer nose than most Persians, lending them a more open expression Smith hoped to incorporate into his new breed. He was very much successful and applied to TICA for recognition in 2001.

But creating a new breed is a long and tedious process, so in 2008 Smith moved on to other things. That might have been the end of the Minuet as a breed, but others breeders stepped in to pick up where he left off. Many breeders can be given credit, but it was Teri Harris who presented the breed to TICA in 2011 and asked for Preliminary New Breed Status. Since then, the breed has progressed slowly and is still not recognized by most registries.

Even so, Minuets are distinct. They have the sweet face of the Persian, with a slightly longer nose, but the shorter legs of the Munchkin. The head is rounded and the eyes are large. Some Minuets have standard legs, but these are not used for breeding programs and are generally sold as pets. They do have the same face and body, however.

This medium sized cat is solid and very round. His head is round, his eyes are round, his cheeks, muzzle, and even the chest are all round. The body itself is semi-cobby, so it too has a sense of roundness. This makes them adorable and gives them an innocent expression and manner.

Gentle by nature, this cat is great with children. He is affectionate and loves his people, so he's always willing to play. He's a curious creature and he's full of energy, so expect him to 'help' you with whatever task you're currently engaged in. He likes to be in the middle of things, so he might very well decide to help you with dinner!

But he doesn't need humans to entertain him. If, for whatever reason, the people are unavailable, the Minuet can find something to do all by himself. He'll play acrobat or turn the house into a racetrack or even climb your doorways as he amuses himself. You might want to invest in a cat tree and some toys unless you want him to turn the sofa and curtains into his personal gymnasium.

If you're looking for an energetic cat with a unique look, the Minuet might be right for your household. Just keep an eye on the curtains because he can climb just about anything.