You may have shelved your Halloween costume and eaten all the leftover candy, but you can still keep the season’s spooky spirit alive by adopting a “werewolf cat.” Yes, these cats actually exist—although they’re technically a new breed called Lykoi, which comes from the word "lycanthrope.”
With spare, patchy fur that’s missing in swathes, the kitties look like extras from Wes Craven’s 2005 film Cursed. Their unearthly appearance is caused by a mutant gene variation that occurs naturally in the wild cat population. The anomaly makes it so that Lykoi’s hair follicles are unable to produce or maintain hair—meaning they’re missing the majority of their undercoat, and have balding spots on their faces or near their paws.
According to Nautilus, the mutation has existed for years. However, feline fanciers only recently created the Lykoi breed, over the past half-decade, from two litters of cats discovered in Tennessee and Virginia. The gene that causes the hair loss is likely recessive, so breeding Lyokis is often a bit of a gamble. Therefore, very few of them currently exist.
Although the cats look sickly, researchers say that no tests so far have indicated that they have any physical problems. (They do, however, need a reliable heat source thanks to their sparse coats, as well as baths to prevent oil build-up.) Many cat breeds—like sphinxes, for example—have been bred from a select few animals that were born with rare mutations. However, since the breed is so new, no Lykoi kitties have lived long enough to confirm a clean bill of health. This means the jury’s still out on their strength. The breed is also controversial in some circles, since some animal-lovers fear that the cats will become trendy only to be later forgotten about and abandoned.
Currently, there are so few cats in the world that qualify as “standard” Lykois that the price for a kitten—once you get off the waitlist, that is—is as high as $2500. That’s a lot to pay for an animal that the Cat Fanciers Association hasn't even recognized as a breed. However, Lykois are apparently affectionate, with "dog-like" personalities, so at least you’ll be getting some quality companionship.