Tag Archives: cat

Wolf Cats Are On The Prowl: More About Lykoi

lykoi-in-south-africaYou may’ve heard of “Lykoi” cats or maybe you haven’t. They’re sometimes called ‘wolf’ cats or even ‘werewolf’ kitties and there have been a few articles about them since the breed became recognized a few years ago. To be accurate, they aren’t really a breed, they are cats with a naturally occurring genetic mutation that began appearing in feral cat populations worldwide in the last two decades.

Cats with ‘Lykoi’ traits have been recorded in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and even South Africa. Since 2011 (when monitoring of these cats began,) there have been over thirty recognized mutations worldwide. These kitties vary widely in their fur patterns ranging from almost completely black to gray to white to almost furless. But all of them share dog-like traits (including extreme loyalty to their family and being very scent-motivated,) large ears (usually furless or furless on the back,) and a charming little ‘wolf-like’ face. They are highly intelligent and inquisitive. They also ‘molt’ periodically, losing patches of their fur.

Some Lykoi are born full-coated but may lose hair as they grow older, giving them a patchy look. Others are born with little fur and a few are fully coated. If you visit sites featuring Lykoi cats and kittens, you’ll see a wide variety of fur patterns and fur to furless coats.

When these kitties first began appearing online many folks believed they were a cross between Sphynx and Devon Rex cats. But testing has proven not only that they are a natural mutation, but that despite their hair loss that they are completely healthy. Many vets are still unaware of this new variation of cats. My own vet wanted to test my new kitten for a fungal infection when she noticed the backs of her ears were hair-free.

The word, Lykoi, means ‘wolves’ in Greek and was coined by Dr. Johnny Gobble, the veterinarian who first discovered these unique kitties and who, with his wife, Brittney, has been working to spread awareness about them. Gobble found his first pair of Lykoi in Virginia where he writes that the cats are occasionally spotted in people’s backyards.

Although there are now breeders specializing in Lykoi cats and the International Cat Association added Lykoi to the cat registry of recognized breeds in 2011, you don’t have to go to a breeder to find a Lykoi kitty. They show up from time to time in shelters and in feral cat colonies. My own kitten was a feral who lost his mother and siblings and who ended up in a high-kill shelter, but was saved at the last minute by Nashville Cat Rescue.

I’ve also noted a cat with Lykoi traits (gray and white pattern) who has visited the feral cat colony I care for throughout the summer. He’s a large cat with a loping gait who could be mistaken for a small dog or bob cat from a distance. When I first saw him up close and noticed his furless ears and ‘thinning fur,’ I worried he could be ill. But, as it turns out, he’s very healthy and, hopefully, will be caught, neutered, and rehomed as a barn cat in the near future.

If you’re interested in Lykoi cats, you can find out quite a bit about them with a simple online search. If you work with feral cats or volunteer at a shelter, be on the lookout for them, and, should you spot a Lykoi, please reach out to a local Lykoi breeder to see if they can provide a home. Many shelters and even some veterinarians aren’t aware of this mutation. So let’s do what we can to get the word out that these little “werewolves” are friendly and healthy and looking for fur-ever homes.





Lameness In Cats

My kitty tMonday cat has a flatook a tumble.  It’s certainly not the first time she made a misstep or that she has fallen off the stairs. But a fall for a cat of fifteen is not the same as it is for a cat of five. And although at first Morwen seemed fine and hopped back up immediately and started back up the stairs swatting the offensive kitten who caused her fall, later that night I noticed she was limping on her right hind leg and stopping to rest after a few steps.

The next morning, I took her to the veterinarian who poked and prodded and then recommended x-rays. She found signs of osteoarthritis in Morwen’s hips (not unexpected for a kitty her age,) but no signs of breaks or muscle tears. When Morwen wasn’t better in another week, an MRI and bloodwork were taken – again showing no issues beyond the general wear and tear you’d expect on a kitty of fifteen. Having ruled out more serious conditions like renal disease, Diabetes, and tumors, was well as a muscle tear or break, the vet recommended ‘bed rest’ and gave her Metacam for pain.

Now Morwen is on a long road to recovery that, given her age, may take a few weeks’ (or even a few months’ ) time. Cats are not great fans of ‘sitting still.’ So Morwen is now confined to a very small room with stairs that allow her to move from the bed to floor without jumping and a large pillow placed so that she has a good view of the bird feeder.

Lameness in cats can have many causes and, although I had seen Morwen fall, we did full blood work to rule out issues like Diabetes and renal failure. X-rays, in addition to detecting things like breaks and even severe tears, can also be used to look for tumors or even a thrombosis – both causes for concern with lameness comes into play suddenly.

pet emergencyMorwen’s sprain/muscle strain is complicated by underlying osteoarthritis which, before her fall, wasn’t noticeable. True, Morwen uses the ‘kitty stairs’ rather than jumping more than she did in the past, but she never openly limped even during cold or wet weather like my Maine Coon, Tig. Maine Coons are genetically prone bone and joint conditions and Tig, who could stand to lose a few pounds, has been on preventative glucosamine/chrondrotin supplements for years. She also makes ready use of the sets of stairs I installed years ago for my geriatric cocker-spaniel, Lady, who has, long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Morwen, compared to Tig, is positively spry even though they are only a year apart in age – Tig being the elder. But a muscle sprain (or worse a tear) can take more time to heal than even a break. This is as true in pets as it is in humans. Morwen’s sprain (and the x-rays and MRI its diagnosis required) brought to light the beginnings of osteoarthritis which, now, we can deal with using preventative care.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the gradual breakdown of the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the joints. There is no real cure for this progressive disease—although there are several ways to slow its progress. Approximately 25-30% of family pets suffer from osteoarthritis and it is relatively common in the human population as well.  his particular form of arthritis is usually seen in older cats (and dogs,) but can occur in middle-aged animals that are highly active. Obesity in pets is often a contributing factor and some breeds of cats and dogs are genetically predisposed to this condition.

Morwen is now on an ongoing regime of glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as VETiONX® Promaxol™ for pain management. I also switched her senior care pet food to a brand with a higher amount of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, as well as glucosamine, and invested in a pet massager with a heating option. Morwen is already a fan of her pet heating pad, and, for the next month or so, has bi-weekly laser therapy sessions scheduled at the vet.

cat friendsSince NSAIDS are dangerous for cats, heat therapy is a great alternative for cats with pain management issues.  Morwen already had a heated bed, but I have purchased a heating pad to put under her favorite perch as well as a heated disc (that can be re-heated in the microwave and slipped under her when she isn’t sitting near an electrical outlet). I’ve also added heated massage to her therapy and laser therapy, as well installing a few additional pet steps so that Morwen can more easily reach the beds and window sills.

While my cocker-spaniel, Lady was recovering from her ACL injury, she used water therapy. But water therapy isn’t usually an option for most cats although my Maine Coon, Tig, enjoys swimming. I would highly recommend it for water-loving cats (There are a few!) as well as dogs since it allows pets with diminished mobility to exercise and reduces stress on the joints.

Although Morwen isn’t a candidate for surgery, cats suffering from secondary (traumatic) arthritis can sometimes benefit from surgery and more aggressive treatment. Traumatic arthritis is caused by trauma to the joint and chronic sprains. Cats involved in severe falls or car accidents often suffer this type of arthritis. X-rays and MRIs can identify  arthritis of this type. It is usually treated using heat and water therapy, massage, and glucosamine and chondrotin, as well as arthroplasty procedures, such as hip replacements. Arthrodesis or permanently freezing of a joint is sometimes used when a joint is particularly unstable. Your vet can provide you with a range of options depending on your pet’s type of arthritis, age, and activity.

Although the prognosis for cats with joint disease is good, in most situations you can expect to see a slow progression of the disease with time. This is especially true with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, a rare autoimmune condition in cats that can strike at any age and causes degeneration in the joints and tissues. Symptoms for all types of arthritis include:  reduced motion, limping or favoring one side of the body, general lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and reluctance to climb and jump.  If your cat is not very active, then it may be very difficult to evaluate lessened activity. Morwen has always been very active cat and her change in activity was noticeable. Some of my other kitties (I’m looking at you, Tig!) are much less active—literally lying on cushions for hours and mewing when moved—so diagnosing a decrease in activity would be very difficult in their cases.

If you have an older pet, your vet will usually include a joint assessment during his (or her) geriatric check-up. But, like Morwen, your pet may hide their condition until something more traumatic, like a fall, makes it evident. Cats are notorious for hiding their pain, unlike dogs who will usually seek out their owners to let them know something is wrong. If there is any change in your cat’s behavior for more than a day or two, it is always best to visit your veterinarian. Hiding under beds or in closets, seeking out dark places, or refusing to socialize with other pets could be a sign that your cat is feeling under the weather. Any indication of pain in a pet should not be ignored.

feral care5Arthritis, though less common in cats than in dogs, is a growing problem as our pets live longer lives.  Just as arthritis is more common in older humans, it also develops more frequently in older pets. So, if you have an older cat (or dog,) keep a sharp eye for changes in their behavior. Make sure that they stay slim—no easy task.  And you might want to start them on glucosamine and chondrotin supplements on a lesser preventive dose just in case.

No one likes to think that their pet is getting older, but your pet can grow old with grace, and, hopefully, with proper care, live a long life with relatively few health problems.

June Is Adopt A Shelter Cat Month


kitten smileIf you’re planning on adding a pet to your family, we hope you’ll consider adopting a shelter cat. As an added incentive, June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month and many shelters are running specials on adoption rates, vaccinations, and spay/neutering.

Over two million (you read that right) adoptable cats and dogs are killed each year because there aren’t enough people willing to offer them homes. By adopting a cat this June, you’ll be saving two lives. The life of the cat you rescue and the cat who will have a chance to be adopted from the shelter who might not have been given a space at the rescue or animal control center.

cat fosterAlthough many rescue agencies rely on fosters and maintain a no-kill sanctuary, there are still many animal control centers that do kill healthy, adoptable pets. So even if you can’t adopt this June, consider becoming a foster or donating to your local animal shelters so that they can provide sanctuary for animals until they can be adopted.

You can also support Adopt a Shelter Cat Month by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Tumblr and so many other sites). Stories that once would’ve only reached a few people locally are now being read by animal-lovers around the world. You can use the hashtag #AdoptACat and a simple message like: “June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month. Save a life: Adopt a cat! https://www.petfinder.com” to help cats find their fur-ever homes this June.

cat changeAs Margaret Mead wrote many years ago, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” So get out there and do some good this June whether means bringing home a kitty (or two or three,) volunteering as a foster or donating to a local cat protection or adoption group, or simply spreading the word in your community about animals in need.

For a few more ideas on how you can make a difference this June, visit Petfinder.com or the American Humane Association.