SYDNEY MINES, NS — A werewolf kitten has crossed the Canso Causeway.
A Sydney Mines family has acquired what they believe is the first cat of the Lykoi breed in Cape Breton. Felines from the unique breed, which was only discovered in 2011 and officially recognized in 2017, are also referred to as werewolf cats due to their spare hair and resemblance to the mythical creature.
Meet Cricket. The 13-week-old Lykoi arrived in Cape Breton last week after a trans-Canada journey that began in Alberta.
“He’s just beautiful and he’s so friendly,” said Kristalee Currie, of the latest addition to her family’s assembly of out-of-the-ordinary cats.
“We thought we’d have to keep him separate from the others for a bit, but we could tell him right away by his personality that he was interested in the other cats so we only kept him separate for one day. I wanted to meet everybody. And there is no keeping him out of places he wants to go. He’s not shy and he’s incredibly curious.”
According to Currie, the only breeder of the Lykoi breed in Canada is in Alberta. But that did n’t stop her and her husband Deryk from diligently arranging the purchase and transfer of the rare feline.
“He’s like a little dog. He’s very, very playful. Most hairless cats are very playful but this guy is on a whole other level. We’re still learning his little tricks,” said the health-care worker and mother to two daughters and a stepson.
“When we got our first cat after getting our own house we had no idea we’d end up with five very unique cats, let alone a werewolf kitten. But it all started with Gizmo.
A growing family
Gizmo was the first on the scene when the Curries moved into their Sydney Mines home in 2015. The only female of the family’s five cats, Gizmo arrived not long after the birth of their last child Georgia.
“Every time I got baby fever I got another kitten — or maybe it’s my husband who had baby fever,” laughed Currie.
“Gizmo is half Siamese and I had always wanted a Siamese. Then we stumbled across Birkley, who is a blue point Siamese before we found a wonderful breeder in Peggy’s Cove and we got our two hairless boys through her. Then last week we brought home the werewolf kitten.
“They all have great temperaments. There were a few hisses, but that’s all.”
Despite the feline comradery, four of the five cats are very assertive when it comes to seeking the attention of their humans. The second of the Currie’s two hairless Sphynx cats is shy. He is blind in one eye and had some health issues when he was younger. His name is Jack, although his humanity refers to him as One-Eyed Jack.
“Jack is nervous about whatever’s going on,” said Deryk, an accomplished tattoo artist.
“He’s my shadow, he’ll come out when I’m home and follow me around everywhere.”
However, Jack was nowhere to be found on the day of this scribe’s visit to the Currie household.
But the others were. Gizmo, Birkley, DeVito and Cricket all vied for attention, but there was no fighting, just a need to bond with their humans.
What’s in a name?
So, what’s with the names?
“My husband gets the credit for the names – he just kept coming up with great names that the rest of us just loved,” said Currie.
“It started with Gizmo, who when he was little had really big ears for his size. Birkley was named for Birkley Avenue in Glace Bay where he came from. DeVito is the first hairless Sphynx we got and he’s named for our favorite actor, Danny DeVito, who was in one of our favorite shows, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Jack was named for Special Agent Jack Bauer who was a cat in that same show and our newest, Cricket, was also named for a character, Rickety Cricket, on the show.”
While the word Lykoi is Greek in origin and means wolves, the breed does not come from Greece. It was actually developed in Tennessee by Patti Thomas.
The breed’s origin comes from strays, shelters and feral colonies. The gene that gives werewolf cats their unique look is attributed to an occasional naturally-occurring mutation in short-haired domestic house cats that was first recognized about 20 years ago.
Since then, DNA testing has confirmed that while Lykoi cats have similar genetic traits to the Devon Rex and Sphynx breeds they do not carry the Sphynx/Devon Rex gene.
Both the Cat Fancier’s Association and The International Cat Association have acknowledged Lykoi as an advanced new feline breed.
All of that matters little to Cricket. All he knows is that he is being cared for by a loving family, the house is warm and food is almost always available.
Another thing that Cricket knows nothing of is his father’s acting career. Yes, the Lykoi who sired Cricket is a television star. He made an appearance on a show called “Channel Zero: The Dream Door” in which he appeared from a hole in the wall after one of the production’s character’s magically conjured up a werewolf cat.
According to Currie, her tribe of rare cats requires special care.
“They do require a lot of attention and commitment,” she said.
“The two hairless guys go into a bubble bath about once a month, they get complete ear care, face care, tooth care, their nails are constantly trimmed, claws retracted and each individual nail is washed. Cricket will go in the bath, too, but not as often.”
Currie said that given the cat’s lack of hair a warm home is at the top of the list.
“We cannot run out of heating oil in the winter,” she said.
“They all stay inside. When it’s cold we have heating pads and the cats have sweaters. And they get lots of hugs also they all don’t like being picked up.”
“He’s just beautiful and he’s so friendly.” — Kristalee Currie
Owning a rare cat such as a Lykoi is also a significant investment. Werewolf kittens generally sell for more than $2,000. In the Curries case, they also had to pay to fly Cricket from Alberta and for the trip to the Halifax airport to pick him up.
For the Curries, the cost is worth it.
They also have some information they want to pass on to prospective rare-breed cat owners.
“These cats are lovely, they’re intelligent and they are very sociable,” said Currie.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about hairless cats is that people think they feel like skin or a cold turkey but they actually have a thin layer of velvet on them and every cat is different. They all have little bits of different features.”
Despite his resemblance to a small werewolf, Cricket is not expected to howl at the next full moon or develop monster fangs and claws. After all, he’s a werewolf in name only.