A Penguin cat breeder has achieved an Australian-first with the arrival of a healthy litter of ‘wolf cats’.
The breed is known as Lykoi and are well-known due to their scruffy werewolf-like appearance caused by a natural mutation.
Owner Emma Vernon said two of the four kittens born five weeks ago had been confirmed as Lykoi.
“At about a week of age I was able to determine that two of them were definitely Lykoi because at about one to two weeks of age they start to lose their undercoat and their mask becomes obvious,” she said.
Mrs Vernon was selected as the official Australian breeder of the rare cat and imported a male Lykoi named Vukasin from the United States in 2015.
Less than 10 naturally occurring Lykoi have been discovered and, in a stroke of luck, Mrs Vernon was able to find one in Hobart.
“It can’t be overstated just how lucky we were because not only do we not have to import a second cat to have Lykoi here, he is completely unrelated from anything, anywhere else in the world,” she said.
The cat from Hobart is the father of the new litter and the mother, a domestic black shorthair, was a carrier of the gene as her father was Vukasin.
“A lot of the other breeds like the Sphynx have been inbred too much which is creating awful health problems, so a really big part of the process is to keep out-crossing to feral population cats,” Mrs Vernon said.
The arrival of the first litter was seven years in the making.
Mrs Vernon first made contact with the Americans who discovered the mutation, Johnny and Brittney Gobble, in 2010.
“I’ve always loved Siamese, and I started breeding with Siamese but I also really like the unusual so we got into Sphynx but the health problems were quite depressing,” she said.
“I stumbled across the Lyoki and just absolutely loved the look of them.”
The waiting list for a new kitten is “years long” and will set owners back between $1500 and $2500 depending on the show standard and colour of the Lykoi.
The story, Australia's first litter of Lykoi or 'wolf-cats' was born in Tasmania five weeks ago | Photos, first appeared on The Examiner website.