Thanks to a natural genetic mutation, a new breed of cats straddles the line between house cat and werewolf -- at least as far as looks are concerned.
Known as Lykoi (Greek for "wolves"), the cats' fur -- or lack thereof -- sets them apart. "The breed's distinct look is due to a natural mutant gene variation that interferes with hair growth, resulting in a sparse, patchy coat," Animal Planet's Nesa Nourmohammadi writes.
In fact, the Lykoi was originally thought to be a mutated Sphynx cat, a claim that has since been discredited by DNA testing. Instead, the Lykoi has been shown to be a relative of the domestic short-haired cat. Further DNA testing has also shown that the Lykoi's unusual patchy coat is not the result of any known genetic diseases.
According to Lykoi Cats, which describes itself as the first Lykoi breeder, testing revealed that "some hair follicles lacked all the necessary components required to create hair (which is why Lykoi lack an undercoat). They also found that the follicles that were able to produce hair [...] lacked the proper balance of these components to maintain the hair (which is why Lykoi do molt and can become almost completely bald from time to time)."
The Lykoi has been around for nearly two decades. Breeding of the animal, however, is a relatively new phenomenon, having first occurred around 2010.
Feline lovers looking to acquire a Lykoi to call their own will have to pony up a pretty penny: the cats reportedly go for up to $2,500 each.