It’s the size of a cat but has the appearance of a wolf. It is considered to be the world’s rarest breed of cat, with only 35 known to exist in the world. Although its cause is a naturally-occurring gene in feral cats, it is almost never found in the wild. It’s called the Werewolf Cat or the Lykoi (a Greek form of ‘wolf’) and the first known wild specimen in South Africa was captured recently in Cape Town.

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Lykoi 'Werewolf' cat

The cat, found under a bush, is the only natural-born Lykoi on record in [South Africa] and one of just 35 in the world, making this one of the most exciting discoveries in the [South African] animal world in recent years.

Members of the TEARS Animal Rescue Feral Cat project in Cape Town found the male kitten in a litter of six and immediately spotted its rare and unique look. Because of the genetic mutation, the Werewolf Cat has no fur on its face and no undercoat, making it appear mangy and nearly bald. Its behavior is more doglike that cat and some say its hairless face has a movie werewolf look. Put that all together and the rescue workers suspected they might have found a rare wild Lykoi.

After making sure the cat was healthy and its unusual look was not a skin disease, the TEARS group contacted veterinarian Dr. Johnny Gobble, the world’s primary (and possibly only) werewolf cat expert, who confirmed that it was indeed a rare wild Lykoi. Dr. Gobble is also the first breeder of Lykoi cats - descendants of two wild strains discovered in the U.S. in Virginia and Tennessee. As such, it’s not a so-called “designer breed” but has not been recognized by the leading cat associations, which disappoints Dr. Gobble.

They have great personality overall, and we have found no genetic health problems so far. Since they come from the feral colonies, I think they have great immune systems.

This Werewolf Cat is also a lucky cat. The TEARS staff named it Eyona, which means “The One” in Xhosa. In people, the name is associated with independence, mysteries and a feeling that no one understands them. (Could this also be the Xhosa word for teenager?) Fortunately, Eyona will not be sold to a breeder or collector but instead TEARS has placed him with a cat lover.

Eyona is quite different to other cats, is still feral and will need special care.

So Eyona isn’t really a werewolf or a werecat but it’s still “The One” of only 35 of its kind in the world and has a good home where it won’t be exploited, hunted or eaten. Real werewolves are jealous.

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Which way is Cape Town?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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