THE UNCENSORED ORIGINS OF THE LYKOI
Some images used are screenshots. The fair use doctrine recognizes that rigid application of copyright laws in certain cases would be unfair or may inappropriately stifle creativity or stop people from creating original works, which would harm the public. So, the doctrine allows people to use someone else’s copyrighted work without permission in certain circumstances including criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. As I am not permitted to reproduce in full any ofthe Gobbles' emails to myself or others (a grey area of copyright law), I can only provided synopses (these are permitted by law). The transcripts remain on file.
The Lykoi has a mutation that causes sparse hair giving a “werewolf” effect. The original Lykoi mutants were discovered by Patti Thomas. These were Ray of Hope (female) and Silver Lining (male). Their mother was Eve, a solid black domestic shorthair. The kittens were 8 weeks old when Patti obtained them in September 2010 from an animal shelter. The kittens were described as natural hairless kittens and tests confirmed they did not have Sphynx of Devon Rex forms of hairlessness. Patti gave co-ownership of her mutant cats to Sphynx and Devon Rex breeders Johnny (a veterinarian) and Brittney Gobble. The contract – signed by all three parties – stated that all three would share jointly in future breeding. If the kittens proved unsuitable for breeding, the contract stated that one of them would return to Patti as an altered pet and the Gobbles would be allowed to keep the other as an altered pet if they wished (I have a copy of this signed contract).
Some fanciers, breeders and buyers were led to believe that Patti Thomas wanted no part of the Lykoi mutant kittens and that she simply handed them over. The contract proves otherwise. Leslie Lyons of UCDavis offered to help Thomas with the work of doing test matings on the natural mutation kittens, but Patti was not in favour of brother-sister or mother-son test-matings. She agreed to co-ownership not to wash her hands of ownership, but because she did not have the resources to obtain the number of domestic shorthairs needed for outcrossing and to widen the gene pool. A March 2011 email, shows that they intended to inbreed mother-to-son right from the outset: “I know we could breed the brother and sister together, but I think that will not answer if it is a dominant gene. Also I do not like such close inbreeding.” (mother to son is also close inbreeding).
A number of concerns have been voiced about the breeding methods (cages), the fate of the original two mutant cats and the number of Lykoi that that become permanently hairless at their first moult (perhaps due to outcrossing to a hairless breed). Most recently there are claims that the breeder obtained cats with the lethal Ojos Azules gene, when in fact they have the Russian Topaz blue-eyes gene, and possibly even two different genes from two foundation lines. This page contains a summary of these issues.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING - HIJACKING THE LYKOI BREED
Despite an agreement that Patti was to be acknowledged as the founder of the Lykoi breed, Brittney Gobble heavily promoted the Lykoi without acknowledging her. So first things first - Patti Thomas is the originator and namer of the Lykoi breed. She entered a co-ownership contract with the Gobbles in return for being involved in every aspect of the development of the breed. According to Mrs Gobble's email (forwarded to me), separate from the contract, of 30th March 2011, she and Patti and both had to agree before any intact breeders were placed and cats would not be placed without the agreement of the co-owners. The co-ownership contract was later circumvented and Patti was later blocked from communicating with the other co-owners. As Patti was co-owner of the stud cat, that should not have been allowed. There are emails from Mrs Gobble about “finding ways around the contract.” This means most people have no idea of the true origin of the Lykoi because Patti was cut out of many of the accounts.
According to the Gobble’s website, Patti Thomas “gave” her cats to Dr. Johnny Gobble at the suggestion of a mutual friend, Cheryl Kerr. According to Patti, she did not even meet Cheryl Kerr until after she started communicating with the Gobbles. She did not "give the cats away" - she entered into a co-ownership contract with both Brittney and Johnny Gobble. A while later, Brittney Gobble learned of a set of similar cats in Tennessee. They had been born around September 2010. These joined Patti’s cats in the breeding facility as foundation cats. Here's the co-ownership contract for the cats found by Patti.
On Fri, March 25th, 2011 at 8:50 PM, Patti wrote to Brittney saying it was not practical for her to take on this project of single-handedly starting a new breed. She knew of Brittney through mutual friends and ttrusted her with the mutant cats. Her only request wasto remain co ownerof the cats and if they were deemed unfit for breeding she would have at least one of them back home with me. She also requested equal involvement in making decisions about their future test mating and wanted to be noted as being instrumental, and actively involved in possibly establishing of a new breed. She wanted to be involved in the decision making about who else to involve as breeders, at least within the first three years. She believed this would be in the best interest of the cats.
Sadly, this arrangement turned out to be not in the best interest of the timid – but emphatically not nasty-tempered cats. Their temperament is something I am familiar with from working with ferals and poorly socialized rescue cat; those whose socialisation doesn’t begin before 8 weeks may always be nervous of strangers or changes in their environment. It can take many years of positive interaction from their humans for them to be confident and outgoing. When transferred to a new environment, the new owner must take time to gain their trust.
On April 7th, 2011 9 Patti Thomas wrote again, saying the cats were still a bit skittish, especially the boy, who was very affectionate with humans if approached slowly, but scared to death of unfamiliar cats. He was sociable with two of her males in their room on the lower level of her house, but any change AT ALL (her emphasis) freaked him out, so it would be necessary to walk on eggshells with him until he settled. The girl was somewhat standoffish, while the mother was calm but took time to bond with.
These cats were sociable with Patti in her home, but evidently freaked out in a very unfamiliar environment - a cage-breeding facility rather than a household. While I am prohibited from reproducing photos of the breeding facility (which I have on file), I can provide my own sketches. The group of 3-4 female domestic cats and F1 Lykois are in a room intended for dogs in a vet clinic. The USDA has regulations for dog pens, but not for cat accommodation. The rooms have no perches, no toys, no scratching post and minimal bedding, forcing the cats to be at ground level. These rooms are used for cyce breeding - manipulating the cats' natural rhythms by controlling the lighting so that they come into oestrus outside of the natural season. Johnny told Patti Thomas that the way to bring a female on heat is to "keep them in a dark room, with lighting on a timer, until you want them to come in heat, then you put them in a well-lit room with direct sunlight for several hours a day." Where is the mental and physical stimulation needed by cats e.g. climbing trees, windows? Cats do not like to be forced to stay at ground level. Lack of daylight (i.e. a window) is against good practice. While this may meet USDA's standard for dogs, they would not be permitted under European regulations because of the lack of stimulation and perches.
The breeding facility looks pretty barren to me - there's the corridor where the dog runs are used for housing females - quarantine cats and for bringing females into oestrus. In the dog room, a lighting timer manipulates their biological rhythm to bring them into oestrus. Although Mr Gobble points to the dog door at the far end, free access to daylight would undermine the function of the lighting timer. According to him, controlled cycling is not uncommon in the USA. I am well aware of its use in poultry, farm livestock and laboratory animals (and also in puppy farms), but in those cases it reduces these animals, or their produce, to marketable commodities. Are these cats to be companion animals or just commodities? One their own emails (forwarded to me) concerns repeated breeding of an female called Opie (registered as Opossum Road Kill), described as “almost a miniature cat,” weighing “only 4.5 pounds.” Although apparently never sick when pregnant, Opie had repeated upper respiratory infections (herpes followed by secondary infections) and could not keep weight on when ill. Sometimes she had to be given fluids and heat. Eventually “we believe her body was just too little, and when she became ill with herpes this time [...] her body just couldn't fight.” Despite this, she had 3 litters in a 13 month period (TICA-registered offspring show the dates: Daciana Dream 14 Sept 2011, King Artemis & Queen Ulrica 26 April 2012, and Goddess Diana 5 October 2012). Most breeders I'm in contact with would have spayed her for the sake of her own health. I can only infer that her offspring were more important than her own life. Mrs Gobble has claimed that her kittens are born in her bedroom, but a video of Johnny Gobble feeding infants in his vet clinic does not support that claim. The few breeders who have visited her home have said they never cats in the home, and in one video, Mrs Gobble explains that had to stop moving the cats from the "breeding facility" to the clinic to give birth because the stress of moving caused them to miscarry. Another forwarded email mentions “Your boy [a kitten] was in the same cage. He was exposed [to potential FIP]. I am hesitant to send him to you because of the possibility of FIP.”
Having been raised in a household, the original mutants found themselves in cages in a breeding facility where their timidity was interpreted as aggression. They had not been aggressive in their previous home, but reverted to the feral state (according to an email screenshot I have) while with the Gobbles. These were cats that needed constant human affection and interaction. Patti’s precious foundation Lykoi boy would have been traumatised by a cage and by unfamiliar cats. To make matters worse, this foundation male was then allowed to freeze to death in 10F (minus 12 Centigrade) weather and no steps seem to have been taken to get him in from the cold. His death from hypothermia was detailed in emails. The foundation female fared little better in the Gobbles’ care. She did not cycle regularly and despite hormone injections, in 2.5 years did not conceive - it was not even certain she had ever mated. When she was returned Patti (the male having died), this female turned out to be afraid to mate with males. It took 2 years to calm this female down. Patti felt her trust had been betrayed because the foundation male died a senseless and unnecessary death and the female severely traumatised and "reverted to the feral state".
I did ask Johnny Gobble about the death of the foundation male, and about the rooms that I consider to be unsuitable for the species-specific needs of cats, and the response on 1st Feb 2017 was "After talking with my attorney yesterday, I feel that it is in my best interest not to give you more information. " In other words, no comment.
According to Patti, she gave her permission freely for the Gobbles to register 8 litters using her co-owned male. In return she got co-ownership of one female Lykoi and one F1 cat sired by him, but she says the Gobbles later pulled these cats' registration papers with TICA and would not allow registration of cats descended from the foundation male. Numerous emails refer to preventing Patti acquiring any further Lykoi cats. Silver Lining's name was changed to Lining Wolfie by the Gobbles and registered with TICA; Patti says she was not consulted or notified of this. His name now appears on all pedigrees as Lining Wolfie. Patti named the kittens' mother of the two mutants, Eve (the beginning), and she was registered as Eve Havah, again without consulting or notifying her co-owner. I've got a screenshot of an email, sent to my by Johnny Gobble, that accuses Patti of not inventing the name Lykoi.
Other naturally occurring Lykoi were added to the gene pool including “Kitty Kitty,” “Cowboy” (from Canada) and the "Bears" (California). Did the families who handed over these “sweet” cats realise their cats will likely spend their lives caged (as studs) or held in barren rooms to bring them on heat (if females)? Additional Lykoi mutants came from feral colonies. I learnt that the Lykoi pair from TN were not breed standard and the TN female appears to have died after giving birth to her 2nd litter due to complications from pneumonia. Natural curl-eared Lykoi also turned up (I can’t reproduce the photos due to copyright) whose ear-tips curl backwards - luckily not being bred as a variety. I always recommend that discoverers of novel mutations deal only with breeders whose cats are raised in the home around the family and not in cages. Especially with cats used to being outdoors, it is not in their best interest to be closely confined.
Johnny Gobble wrote to Patti on 7th January, 2014 to tell her that Silver Lining (aka Lining Wolfie) and his sister Hope had been in a run with a domestic shorthair cat. When staff cleaned the inside run, he ran outside through the door. Staff were told to hurry up so he could go back indoors. The staff said they couldn't get him indoors (he no longer trusted humans) so they were told to leave him as he was and he would go back indoors when he calmed down and got too cold. an undisclosed period of time later, he was still not back inside and had become hypothermic. The foundation Lykoi stud died of hypothermia. I have dealt with fully feral adult cats (for TNR reasons) and gotten them back indoors from an outdoor run. In such cold temperatures a person who is committed to their cats would spare no effort in getting a cat back in to safety. In my opinion, allowing a sparse-haired cat to remain outside and freeze is unforgivable.
Both the male and the female had been shy but they were sweet-natured while living in Patti’s household and there are plenty of photos of them as well-adjusted kittens. They were not wild, crazy or vicious and they did not hate humans, they just shy of strangers and timid in new environments. Their mother was a bit more standoffish. In Patti’s household, the cats were raised “underfoot” and never caged. They needed plenty of positive human interaction to ensure their confidence and affection. Mrs Gobble claimed that the male hated humans. Placed in a cage in a "breeding facility" on their property alongside numerous other caged cats would have been extremely stressful for a cat used to being in a calm household with people. Such a cat can become stir crazy from the stress of close confinement in an environment not suited to his temperament. Again I have personal experience of this in feral-born cats.
Some recipients of cats from the Gobble’s facility have said their cats were unsocialised and terrified of strange people and everyday household activities. This behaviour is not consistent with kittens raised in the home. If anything, it’s consistent with mass produced cats from a kitten farm. As a result of poor early socialisation, some of these expensive pets will never be well-adjusted house cats. One is described later on in the section on "hairless Lykoi." Another, a breeding male Lykoi exported out of the USA turned out to be terrified of human contact and tested positive for Feline calicivirus upon arrival at his new home. He has to be sedated for any veterinary examination and is essentially an indoor feral cat - something more often seen in kitten-farmed cats where positive human contact has been minimal or non-existent. Far from being tthe hoped for Lykoi ambassador fin a new region he arrived temperamentally and physically unfit to be exhibited. Regarding illness, another importer says that her Lykoi tested negative for rabies vaccination (titre test) upon arrival and questions whether they had actually been vaccinated before being exported to her.
How can cats produce happy, sociable kittens when bred in cages? Unless the cages are in the living room and used only as sleeping quarters, they can’t. Kittens need human contact and handling from an early age. Even feral kittens, if handled from an early age, generally become as tame as kittens born in a household (I know this from fostering ferals). Yet some of those who got Lykoi kittens from the Gobbles have complained of the kittens’ poor temperaments and sometimes poor health. Some neutered the cats they recieved because stressed cats are not suitable for breeding with. Some had another type of shock that made cats unsuitable for breeding – their sparse-haired cats went bald and stayed that way.
Patti’s original Lykoi female, Hope, did not go into oestrus very often and had not had a litter by 15 months old as a result. Patti asked for advice on getting Hope to cycle more often, for example, she had heard about a homeopathic product called "Breed Heat." I will admit that personally I consider homeopathy quack medicine. In July 2013, she asked for ideas to bring Ulrica, a daughter of the small and fragile Opie, into oestrus. This female, bred by the Gobbles, had not come into oestrus since autumn 2012, even if housed with a stud cat. The response received (forwarded to me) was to keep the female in a dark room with around 8 hours of natural light for 10 days and then unlimited sunlight or full spectrum lighting for 7 days. Patti agreed to try this, using her well-lit bathroom. A bathroom has sills and surfaces that a cat can perch on so it uses the vertical dimension required by a cat.
Because of her questions and concerns about the breed, Breed founder Patti Thomas found herself removed from the Gobbles list of "approved" breeders. Patti was not in favour of having the breed advance so quickly to Championship in the show halls until some of the concerns about hairless adults were cleared up and there were at least 3-4 generations of Lykoi to Lykoi matings to show that the coat, as well as other traits would breed true after that many generations. Mrs Gobble emailed Christine Boulanger saying that if Patti was not willing to approve the 15 breeders necessary to advance the breed quickly, they would use Cheryl Nada (already a go-to person for getting more Lykoi-like cats from other people) to do it as a way around the contract between Patti and the Gobbles. According to an exchange of Facebook messages in March 2014, Patti was issued with an ultimatum – either approve 10 breeders or agree to a different contract. If she refused both options, the Gobbles would continue to breed while ensuring Patti could never register kittens from her Lykoi. If Patti refused the deal, they would notify TICA and other Lykoi breeders and fans that she was blocking breed progression, and announce this on Facebook.
According to that (March 2014) exchange of messages, they would place their Lykois with breeders supposedly agreed to by Patti before the contract was signed (according to Patti, she had not agreed to any breeders prior to signing the contract) and those breeders could then place the cats with other breeders. All other Lykoi bred by the Gobbles would be placed as neutered pets with people willing to exhibit them. Meanwhile, they would wait for Patti to place a breeding cat without their permission -breaking the contract from her end and freeing them to do the same. If they broke the contract, Patti could sue for the price of the cats placed, but if she sued over a valuable cat in their possession, she could claim a much greater sum. Patti would have to take them to court in their town where, according to the messages, Mr Gobble was main vet for an animal shelter run by the “big” (important and wealthy) people. “If Patti tries to make trouble, she will have to come to my town…where Johnny is a very important and very loved doctor…and the judges are all friends with these wealthy people. They are going to be very angry to hear that she is causing him trouble.” Personally, I doubt that judges like their impartiality and integrity called into question. If their lawyer said the contract was valid and that Patti would always be able to make the decisions they would have to honour it. But if not, they would stop dealing with her as they were no longer breeding from her original two cats.
An email from Johnny Gobble to a South African breeder (January 22, 2015 1:35 AM) gave a clear indication attempts to block Patti from being able to move forward and work with any other breeders. This breeder wanted to return a Lykoi cat to Patti. He was told that the only way he could do this was to use the kitten outcross he had from Lena to one of the kitten outcrosses he already had. It went on to say that the other breeders were under contract with Johnny and would not work with this South African breeder if they felt that breeder supported anything against them. The email contains the sentence " I will do what I can to prevent new cats from going to Patti." He claimed this was due to Patti's attitude toward the Gobbles. He also stated "I also know that you and Patti are friends, but I do not want her joined with me in the Lykoi program anymore.
Johnny Gobble forwarded screenshots of an email conversation with Patti in April 2015. I can’t reproduce the transcript due to copyright, but I can give a synopsis of emails forwarded to me.
His terms were: exhibit GobsGobblins Ulrica and possibly Hope before June 1st, but he admitted Hope had reverted back to the feral stage and was scared (Hope is now back with Patti and is a happy housecat). Secondly, open communication and notification of any health issues that impact breeding. Thirdly, follow the breeding programme agreed with TICA. Fourthly, a statement about “bashing” that doesn’t actually parse, but appears to mean stop insulting/criticising other breeders. Fifthly, no further public digs at his wife on Facebook as the showhall rumours said they had stolen Patti’s cats. He demanded Patti edit her Lykoi page on Facebook because it omitted to mention his health testing, him as first breeder (since Patti’s cats were “found” cats) and he demanded his title be used (in the USA, vets are called “Dr”). Finally, wherever someone else’s prefix was mentioned, his prefix must also be used.
In return he would allow Ulrica's outcross litter to be registered. He would allow his F1, Gobsgobblins Absolute Zero to be bred once to one of Ulrica’s offspring. He did not want him bred to Lena’s F1, Adva and advised Lena and other breeders whose cats were sired by Silver Lining Wolfie against sending a kitten to Patti. Breeders were retire cats that had already been bred from.
Some owners already had written breeding contracts with first generation restrictions that could be lifted if he was shown appreciation for the cat they got from him. He said he would keep everyone appraised [i.e. apprised] of progress with TICA. He admitted in a note that he could not dictate who worked with whom.
On 13th April 2015 Patti responded that if she was allowed to register the litters of her co-owned cats she would exhibit Ulrica at the Lehigh show on April 17. She complained that his conditions kept changing and that she was being asked to jump through ever more hoops. This, according to her email, would be her final effort to negotiate. Importantly, she didn’t say it was her final attempt to communicate. On 19th April, Johnny Gobble’s response was a summary that he co-owned 8 cats with group members and co-owned one unrelated line with his wife where he had paid for the new stud cat. TICA had apparently advised him to charge a fee (but not a ridiculous one) for any cats placed with breeders, but their kittens would be co-owned by Brittney Gobble with three generation restrictions on registration. He would release those restrictions if certain conditions were met including an end to insults and allegations of health issues; acceptance of apologies and the inclusion of his prefix whenever cats from him were mentioned online unless the other breeders also omitted their prefix.
One direct quote, “Patti, I said I would not speak to you again, but” indicates who cut communications with whom following allegations that Patti had hurt Brittney and himself. He wanted proof that he had a contract that stated he owed her cats once a breed was established, as he apparently only had an email stating she wanted to be involved in any breed developed. He wanted proof that Patti had “bred” the original Lykoi cats, as his registration slips showed her to be the 6th Lykoi breeder to register a litter. Patti had supplied the foundation cats that the Gobbles subsequently registered, but these were rescue cats. He wanted to see proof that she came up with the name Lykoi and that it had not been suggested to her as he alleged in his email, plus a public Facebook statement/admission of how the breed was established. And finally, he wanted Patti to only reply to him publicly, not privately.
Patti was accused by the Gobbles of violating a shelter spay/neuter contract regarding the original two Lykoi. There wasn’t a spay/neuter contract and, strictly speaking, it was the Gobbles who bred them (and they are keen to emphasise that they bred the first litters). It seems unlikely to me that a vet who does spay/neuter for his local shelter would breed rescue cats if he believed they were under a shelter’s spay/neuter agreement. She was also accused of sending the two cats across state lines at 7-8 months old without rabies vaccinations. She was not the person who transported them. She says she told the Gobbles that the cats weren’t vaccinated and was not asked to vaccinate them before they were collected and transported across state lines.
One of the early worldwide breeders, Rev. Clinton M. Nusbaumer (formerly Silverbullet Lykoi) of Indiana, commented on Michael Broad’s Pictures of Cats Blog about the “high-school drama” attitude. The co-ownership contracts amounted to intellectual prison wherein any dissent or disagreement was considered an attempted coup, and many breeders were afraid to speak out. When Nusbaumer retired from breeding through poor health, he had to return the co-owned cat . He is another breeder who says the breed advanced too quickly, adding that breeders were afraid to report their misgivings to the TICA board because they felt that some board members had been “bought” by the Gobbles giving or promising them kittens. According to Nusbaumer’s comment, most breeders didn’t have the financial resources to do legal battle in the USA where the justice system largely depends on who can hire the most expensive lawyers. When his Lykoi female had a large littler including several deformed kittens, he wanted to spay her, but was told he had to breed her again as per the contract, and that the domestic father (which had strong naturally selected genes) was the likely cause. He wasn’t willing to take the risk and had to return the female. Luckily the healthy gene carriers from his litter passed on good genes.
HAIRLESS LYKOI – INBREEDING AND THE SPHYNX CONNECTION
All Lykois are homozygous because this is a recessive gene. Some hair follicles lack all the necessary components required to create hair, while others lack the proper balance of these components to maintain the hair, which is why Lykoi can become temporarily bald during moulting season. In general they are born with a completely full coat. When they moult for the first time they look “very wolfie” after which they lose some more hair and range from totally naked to very patchily furred (this is their ugly duckling stage). After that, they get their full adult coat by the age of 4 to 6 months. They should not remain hairless. When originally discovered by Patti Thomas, she hoped they could be used with Sphynx to address the problem of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in the Sphynx breed. While they proved to have a different mutation, they had breed potential in their own right.
Stephen White, a breeder in South Africa exchanged free Sphynx cats with Patti to help in both their breeding programmes. When he and Patti continued to communicate he says that Cheryl Nada blocked both of them. Renee Spahr supplied a non-wolf coated blue female to a person purely as a companion cat, not for breeding. Brittney (or someone using that account) complained that Renee had sent a non-wolf coated blue female to that person to get her started in breeding – implying Renee was not to be trusted.
Originally, the co-founders of the Lykoi breed required that it would never be crossed with another established breed, but only with healthy Domestic Shorthair Cats to enlarge the genetic pool. I will note here that in the UK, trading legislation means such offspring could not be sold as pedigree cats so any UK breeders would need to use another pedigree breed for outcrosses (same situation as the LaPerm some years ago). However word came from a TICA (USA) insider that the Gobbles had told him that Lykoi had been experimentally crossed with Sphynx. The question is, did any descendent ever find their way into the Lykoi gene pool? The appearance of fully hairless cats suggest something is amiss – is it merely a variable phenotype or are there other hairless genes present? The Lykoi is advertised as a werewolf cat with distinctive roan fur and partial hairlessness. Any cats that are hairless as adults don't conform to the advertising. In the USA, pedigree cats fall under the "Lemon Laws" for not being as described.
Lynne Scheuering Avis bought a Lykoi from Gobble and far from being a “werewolf cat” he turned out to be almost hairless. She was told to be grateful to own one of the first Lykoi and that if some turned out to be almost hairless and there was nothing the buyer could do (actually there is – US “Lemon Laws” also cover pets that turn out to be “defective’”) After this cat’s first moult he never grew any fur back. Having paid a large amount for a Lykoi, the buyer had a cat that looked nothing like the slick promotional pictures. It is a much loved pet, but is not as advertised. It became very obvious that this cat was not hand raised or reared in a household and it took Lynne two years to socialize him properly – and like many late-socialised cats he remains a one-person cat.
Elizabeth Randell Swart says she now regrets sending a natural naked mutation (African Dream) that was found in South Africa by a breeder. She never received any feedback on the cat she sent: Did it arrive safely? Did it have kittens (it had been mated before shipping)? Despite asking, she was never told what happened to them. The cats sent turned out to be no relation to the Lykoi (DNA tests at UC Davis). Elizabeth’s experience began with the Sphynx. Sphynx breeders were looking for unrelated cats with the Sphynx mutation to widen the Sphynx gene pool and counter Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in the breed. Bederfie, a moggy, was found in Kimberley, South Africa and carried a naked gene. She had mated with her brother and produced a semi-naked boy, Yates (who was neutered). Bederfie and her kittens went to Elizabeth via Suzette Van der Berg to be used as an outcross for her Sphynx. Sphynx breeder Cheryl Nada paid for DNA tests which proved Yates actually had no Sphynx genes. The first F1 litter was sired by Sphynx Vanderbalds Harry Purrter of Disal. Harry was later found to be HCM positive. From that first litter, the only cat used for the program was a colourpoint girl called Nina. The others were neutered.
The next outcross was Bederfie x Belfry Trice Cera Spots. Their F1 offspring went to breeders in South Africa and the USA. Some went to Nada and Gobble, others went to Patti Thomas (Disal Alexa) and Emily Green, another to Fitz Usmany in Holland and another to Australia. The recipients paid only the transport costs. Nada and Gobble instructed Elizabeth not to send her F1s to anyone else in USA and to speak to them before sending any of her cats to any breeder anywhere – even though these were Elizabeth’s cats, not theirs! Nada got 8 Bederfie x Trice F1 cats from Elizabeth, paying only for the first one. She returned 4 cats– 3 were HCM positive and would be neutered, one was infertile. Gobble returned no cats. They had offered Elizabeth a Lykoi in return. Nada bought Disal Benjamin (Harry Purrter x Pennies) from Elizabeth before Harry’s HCM status was known. When Elizabeth publicly posted Harry’s positive HCM report on Facebook page Nada apparently became angry and posted unpleasantries about Elizabeth. It appeared (unknown to Elizabeth) she had been selling this cat’s progeny to other breeders who would now know that their cats could have the dreaded HCM gene.
When Elizabeth sent Alexa to Patti, she says she was blocked by Nada. Nada apparently became angry that Elizabeth had sent a Bederfie x Malachi F1 to a breeder in South Africa – these were Elizabeth’s cats and in Elizabeth’s own country! Nada apparently gave her an ultimatum to end her friendship with Patti or she would not get the Lykoi she had been promised by Nada and Gobble. Elizabeth did not comply. Because Elizabeth was not following orders, she doubted she would get the kitten from them even though she had paid for the import permit. She was then told that the promised Lykoi kitten had died of FIP. Elizabeth was fed up of being bullied and stopped breeding. In 2014, Elizabeth took photos of a tabby Lykoi-type cat in a public gardens in Cape Town. Later she have heard that the cat were trapped and an article appeared in the paper that the cats had the same Lykoi genes.
AN ASIDE – NOT THE OJOS AZULES GENE!
Another discoverer of a new gene has also been left with a sour taste in her mouth. In 2016, Brittney Gobble and Cheryl Nada (aka Cheryl Kerr) bought two blue-eyed Topaz cats from Russian breeder Iryna Merzlenko, a 1 year old female and a 4 month old male. After the cats arrived in the USA, the Iryna’s communications were blocked. When the Russian cats were bought and shipped, it was made clear to the buyers that they did not have the Ojos Azules gene (linked to lethal defects), but had a totally different mutation - Russian Topaz. This has been called "Russian Ojos Azules" but is not related to the original Ojos Azules breed. Mrs Gobble and Ms Nada both incorrectly claimed in messages that the Russian cats had the Ojos Azules gene. The Topaz (Altai) blue-eye mutation produces a range of blue eye colours ranging from pale forget-me-not blue to very dark blue-grey and they can also have odd eyes. It arose in a different continent and has no link to the American-bred Ojos Azules breed which is now extinct. It has a different presentation than the Ojos Azules gene.
Having learnt about the fate of the early cats, Iryna is justifiably concerned about her cats and that they will also end up caged. Her cats are raised in the home and have safe outdoor access in enclosures, but they are not closely confined in cages.
Solveig Pflueger found that the original Ojos Azules gene was linked to lethal deformities and that it was not a safe gene to work with because of the high rate of lethally affected kittens.
For any well-socialised cat, make sure they are not cage-bred. A happy cat - Lykoi or any other breed - should be bred in the household and socialised with family members and other pets. Check the registered pedigree for any evidence of outcrossing to one of the hairless breeds. In the UK and Europe, it may not permissible to outcross to non-pedigree cats because consumer laws override cat registry rules. If possible go in person to the breeder and see the parents and the environment the cats were raised in. If a breeder tries to put off sending you photos, it’s a red flag – perhaps the cats are not living in his/her home – most breeders are happy to show off their cats in a home setting. If the only photos available are staged photos, then ask yourself why the breeder isn’t willing to send ad hoc photos – what is being hidden from you (apart from their taste in décor)?
The cat on the windowsill is Ray of Hope two years after leaving the Gobbles’ breeding facility and returning to Patti Thomas. She was traumatised, had had repeated hormone injections and turned out to be terrified of males. It took around two years to rehabilitate her back into a happy house cat.
OTHER SPARSE HAIRED CATS
Other sparse hair cats have turned up and the trait continues to turn up in various locations. Some may be suitable for widening the Lykoi gene pool or starting new lines, possibly counter-acting the problem of hairlessness. The first, and possibly most famous of the sparse-haired cats is Pyewacket.
In the emails referred to below, I can’t verify who wrote which email because, regardless of header, I know that Brittney sends emails from her husband’s account
Johnny Gobble wrote to me on 25 January 2017 15:36 that he did not stop communicating with Patti and she told me she did not want to hear from him again. He claimed she got mad when he would not give her cats for free from new lines that I had to pay for and that Patti is acknowledged on the TICA website. I also have an email from Johnny Gobble to Patti Thomas addressing the Lykoi group. It tells the group that Patti insulted him and he says I plan to no longer communicate with her.
Brittney Gobble (01/19/15 at 10:11 PM) wrote to the group that they were no longer backing Patti or those who work with her.
According to Johnny Gobbble'semail to me, Patti did not show one cat in TICA (who register the breed) and did not contribute to advancement and that she inbred her first litter rather than follow their suggestions. Patti tells me that she actually opposed advancement because she felt the breed was not yet ready. The appearance of hairless “sports” supports her view. Patti has not claimed to have contributed towards advancement.
According to Johnny Gobble, is cages, they are over 50 square feet with time to play outside of them. Or they are 80 square feet with indoor and outdoor access. He alleges that Patti has cages outside where she kept "our cats" and when one escaped it took days to locate and wasn't tested for disese when found. He alleges she has a modified closet for her stud cat and has basement cages while the Gobbles' cats have people that play with them every day and they have access to our house and my office constantly while being monitored. He also sent photos to support his claim that other breeders have cages. When I checked the photos, these were runs offering safe outdoor access from the house windows. The only cage in Patti's basement (the lower level of a split level house) is the cockatoo's cage - the cats are loose in the room. As for a modified closet - there isn't one.
Finally, I am asked who paid me or who is such a loving friend that you would publish such an article without at least consulting the other side for information. No-one pays me to investigate. Nor is anyone “such a loving friend” (whatever that means). However, the claims of how the cats are raised does not match the publicly available video evidence and still does not explain how a cat was allowed to die of hypothermia. The existence of the hairless Lykoi shows that the breed might not be genetically stable at this point.
Then on 25 January 2017 19:44, he writes that I am ignoring him. Actually, I had logged off an hour earlier. I log onto a server to pick up emails. I am not tethered to a smartphone and I am not online 24/7. Just because an email is sent, doesn't mean the other party has picked it up. On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 1:57 PM, he sent photos of what he alleges are cages used by othe breeders. So I checked with those othe breeders and here are the photos sent with this email. The cats have access to outdoor runs from the house via an open window. They live in a household as pets, not in a “breeding facility.” Runs like this are used by breeders, owners and rescuers. They give indoor-living cats safe access from the house to an outdoor vantage point – whenever the cats choose – without exposing them to the dangers of being an outdoor cat. The breeder of the cats in the outdoor run is here in the UK where, incidentally, the dark “holding room” treatment would be prosecuted under our animal cruelty laws as not providing a suitable environment for cats.
On 25 January 2017 17:23 "King Artemis" who doesn't give a real name claiming that the blue-eyed cats from Russia are Ojos Azules and that it was not until she went to a show that the cat she bought was called a Topaz F2. In my article I had queried whether these would end up as blue-eyed Lykoi, but "King Artemis" claimed I was telling people lies that she was breeding blue-eyed Lykoi. S/he apparently has tons of emails disproving my "story." So it's not even permissible to query something these days? In the screenshots, I used photos of Topaz cats from Iryna so as not to breach copyrights.
After I’d initially written about the Lykoi, Brittney Gobble posted to Facebook (I have a screenshot) that I’d gleefully written a gossip column that lied, twisted and manipulated and aired dirty laundry in public (I prefer to think of letting some skeletons out of the closet). I gave a voice to those breeders who were on her “do not deal with” list (screenshot also saved). In the posting, she said she would upload an album for each of the Lykoi bullies containing emails and photos. These alleged bullies are those breeders and pet-buyers (not just Lykoi breeders, but also Sphynx and Topaz breeders) that have been blocked from communicating with her and who have complained about being intimidated, including dictats on who they can be friends with or exchange cats with. Some of those dictats are detailed in an email forwarded to me from Johnny Gobble. One Sphynx breeder says she stopped breeding as a result of the intimidation that was driving a wedge between Sphynx breeders in South Africa.
The early working name for one of the foundation lines was “Russian Ojos Azules” not “Ojos Azules” (a TICA recognised breed). The breed name Topaz is now used to clearly distinguish them from the American Ojos Azules breed. It’s incorrect to state that the cats have the Ojos Azules gene - if the term “Ojos Azules” is used it should be prefixed by “Russian” to denote the different breed with different gene expression. I have a whole article about these cats and know the naming issues inside out from the breed founder. Let’s have a comparison, in the USA the European Burmese is not the same as the Burmese. (It’s even more important in the UK where American Burmese may not be bred to our Burmese. Breeders in the both countries will tell you that region of origin can be an important part of the name.
AND A RESPONSE (WITH ANNOTATIONS)
On 26 January 2017 at 13:31 Johnny Gobble wrote:
Thank you for responding, I really did believe you were ignoring me for this reason: I knew you were in a different time zone, and expected a response today. But, I saw the article had changed from the first time I saw it during my emails to you. It appeared to have photos added and new words added. Someone other than you may have been editing it or maybe the website did not update the entire article all at once, but to me it appeared that changes were being made during the time the emails were being wrote to you.
His email was time-stamped more than one hour after I had logged off so any updates seen after I logged off would be due to his computer cache not updating until later. I only receive emails when I log on periodically to pick them up.
The emails that you have sent to me continue to show your negativity toward me, and I am sorry that you have come to this conclusion without even talking with me. The information you have from the other people is information that they have concluded without ever coming to my home, ever seeing any of my cats in person, without even asking me themselves. It is simply there assumption based on their hatred of me that you now have also.
The photo in question is the photo of multiple from the German video and our copyrighted images from our website. The person that sent it to you has been violating our copyrights and the video's copyright. Most of our photos are registered with the US copyright office, but I cannot speak about the German video since I do not know their rules. The only threat I have made is that I would contact your provider if the photos are not removed which is not a threat, but a legal right I have to protect the photos that we publish.
Notwithstanding Fair use and Fair Dealing laws, I found alternatives that are not copyright.
You claim that you will post these emails in an update to the article. That would be perfect for me if you post them in their entirety and allow me to defend myself from the allegations that you make based on hearsay or incomplete truths. I know that any email I write can be public record. I was taught that when emails first came out.
And here I have published the email. With commentary, because others also have the right to reply. I have not edited or omitted any of his words.
.1. The contract in violation is not an entire truth. Posting the contract and then posting Patti's side of the story does not make it truth. It is a biased opinion based on hatred. The truth is that I did tell her not to communicate with me anymore after numerous emails of trying to negotiate a compromise.
The truth is we credited Patti for the work she did and stated she was the co founder in every article we had an interview, on our website, and on TICA's website. We do not do it on our facebook now because of the negativity and hatred she has for us. We did not restrict her from future breeding cats.
Patti was a co-owner of two cats. She had a right to continue communication. There are several emails that show an intention to not communicate with Patti and to prevent her from getting cats. On January 22, 2015 1:35 AM Johnny Gobble wrote "I cannot speak for the other breeders, but I will do what I can to prevent new cats from going to Patti."
We simply stated that money was needed from her to help with the new lines that were not even part of this contract. She did not want to pay anything, in fact, none of the breeders that supply you this information want to pay anything for the new lines that I have paid for from the people that had them-either as a purchase of the cats, or as a lease with the cat returning home to the original owner.
Surely this flies in the face of the contract which states “share the breed equally," since new lines were still Lykoi lines and still part of "the breed".
Patti did not even offer my wife a resting place in her home when she knew she was driving by her home during a lengthy 17 hour trip to get the new lines that she insisted we give her.
I have a whole email chain about this meeting. Patti says that she was told that Brittney was driving straight through due to limited time. The route to the MA annual was Interstate 81 for a very long distance, and it ran within 20 minutes of where Patti lived, so they arranged to meet off the interstate at a McDonalds. This was agreeable to both women.
2. You then post photos of my horrible cages. The first is a kennel run that used to be used in my office for dog hospitalization. You neglect to say that there is a dog door in the back that has access to a covered outdoor area that is fenced for the cats safety.
Nevertheless, the room is not suitable for housing cats because does not use the vertial space (the USDA only gives guidance on dog accommodation). In the UK it would not meet cattery standards because there are no windows and no ledges in this indoor section. The cats are only able to be at ground level indoors. There are also no beds shown – only a piece of fleece on the floor. It also strikes me that free access via a dog door would undermine the role of controlled lighting in bringing females into oestrus.
In the UK, the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (1999) 1, 181–191 "Recommendations for the housing of cats in the home, in catteries and animal shelters, in laboratories and in veterinary surgeries" have the following requirements "The vertical dimension is particularly important as regards the provision of appropriate internal complexity (see next section), so cages show be of adequate height [. . .] Enclosures should contain structures that make maximal use of the vertical dimension, such as shelves, climbing frames, platforms, hammocks and raised walkways placed at various heights [. . .] Surfaces for claw abrasion (e.g. scratch posts, rush matting, carpet, wood) should also be avail-able, as well as toys [. . .] The aim should be to provide good housing conditions, regardless of the length of the housing period. Whether it will be housed for 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years is of no relevance to the animal; its well-being is determined by the conditions it lives in day to day." The dog room used as a cattery would not be permissible here in the UK. In the USA, the CFA guidelines state "A primary enclosure shall provide sufficient space to allow each enclosed cat to turn freely and to easily stand, sit and lie in a comfortable position. The minimum primary enclosure space for a single 4 lbs. Or greater cat is to be 30 cubic feet. Where the primary enclosure is used for more than one cat, resting perches shall be provided." The dog room contains no resting perches. UFAW guidelines state that the cats sould have hiding places because hiding is a coping behaviour for cats. The dog rooms provide a barren environment that fails these basic standards of housing.
Then, outside of that is the play yard with grass and trees that cats can play in while supervised that is in many of my wife's photos of kittens. You state it is a dark room, but it is a room on timer. When the video was taken, the lights had automatically shut off because light timers help cats biological rhythms.
Timers can be used to manipulate female cats’ rhythms so that they come in to oestrus at the breeder’s convenience, not at times of the year when it would be natural for them to do so. While apparently not uncommon in the USA, it's more commonly used in rearing livestock which are commodities rather than companions. It's used in commercial livestock farming.
The door was closed in that photo because we knew the news crew was coming and wanted photos of some of the new lines. You also neglect or you were not told that all cats coming into our program are housed here for quarantine. At least two weeks, but more like 6 weeks to ensure the new cats do not have any disease that can easily be spread. You have a second photo of cages that is at our home. That is for breeding isolation. Anyone that is a breeder knows that many male cats, and sometimes female cats, will spray a house when breeding. Those areas are to ensure the proper males are breeding the proper females. It prevents our home from smelling like urine also. These cats have access to our home and also to an outside area when supervised.
3. You then fail to mention that Silver Lining was a breeding age adult when we received him. Most cats develop their behavior as kittens into adult hood. When we received him and his sister, the behaviors we experienced were already solidified. Silver Lining became more aggressive despite our efforts. You failed to mention that my wife spent six hours with him the first day and he showed no inclination of warming up to people. We have paid helpers that have only one job-to clean, socialize, and care for our cats. There were three different helpers that spent hours of interaction and play with Silver Lining to try to make him a cat that was tame. I work with my local shelter, and he was as wild as the newly trapped feral cats that the trap and release program bring me for spays/neuters. He was so hateful to people that he actually bit me on two occasions when I tried to vaccinate him or treat him for anything.
Three helpers? For how long each day? When taming cats like this they need one-to-one attention and to be near to humans as many hours a day as possible, not just when being cleaned out. I’ve slept next kittening pens that held ferals. I’ve slept in a bedroom with skittish cats loose. Silver Lining came from a household and ended up penned. If he was held at a breeding facility at a clinic, that would be even more stressful. Shock horror that a cat handler gets bitten. My vets know that most cats are stressed by vets – they use a crocodile icon to denote biters. I’ve had my arm chewed up by one of my cats (friendly except with vets) as I restrained her, had my hands chewed up by feral kittens and been bitten to the bone more than once. I did not dismiss these as hateful to people – they were stressed and scared and needed time and patience.
4. You continue to state that your other breeders have done no wrong and leave out the statements that they cage their cats in the very same way they accuse us.
There are no such cages or closets (there is a cockatoo cage containing a cockatoo, that’s all). The basement is the lower floor of a split-level house. The "outdoor enclosures" is a screened-in area 12 foot X 40 foot where people and cats can hang out (in Britain we'd call it a garden room). The domestic shorthair outcross boy from the Gobbles turned out to be very skittish and fought with the other boys, so during the summer months, he was housed in the screened outdoor enclosed area. According to the Gobbles, this one escaped the enclosure and was gone for a long time. According to Patti, he was gone overnight then returned hungry and willingly went back in to the enclosed area where he felt safer. He sired one litter before being neutered and is happier as a neutered pet. If these are cages, then a house is also a cage.
5. The next part is an attack on our breeding ethics. It is funny to me that you even want to state this since almost all the drama from breeders that hate us is over the fact that we would not let them inbreed early, use colors that are not standard, or use cats that were not domestic shorthair.
Regarding the early inbreeding - according to Lykoi breeders that are on the “do not deal with” list, factions formed, one including the Gobbles – used heavy inbreeding (presumably to fix the trait quickly for advancement) while others – including Patti Thomas - opposed inbreeding and were therefore an obstacle to swift advancement. Patti had also refused to inbreed the original mother and mutant kittens and they had gone to the Gobbles (co-owned) because Patti could not accommodate enough unrelated outcross cats. On their own website, the Gobbles stated that the colour of the outcross cats was not a problem and some of the other mutants used were other colours. In the UK there are consumer laws that override breeding rules. Under the consumer legislation cats bred to domestic shorthairs cannot be sold as pedigree cats. Only after 3 generations can they be considered Lykoi again. For that reason, breeders must use another pedigree breed as the outcross. The law of the land is paramount.
We have not stated we would breed blue eyed cats into the Lykoi. Since it is a rumor, you should not print it unless you just want to use this to try to degrade us like the other breeders that hate us do. And stated before, if you truly want proof that there is a Sphynx connection, have the DNA test done. It really is a great test and was the same test used on all the Lykoi to prove there is no Sphynx gene. The hairless cat the Lynne has is the result of a variation in the Lykoi genetic phenotype. You fail to mention that the sibling to that cat is very coated. You also fail to mention that genetically, a Sphynx would have to be bred into the Lykoi for over two years to produce a naked cat. It is proven by genetic again and again that a Sphynx bred to any other cat(except the Devon which it is related with) will produce normal cats. We do have the pedigrees to also prove our argument to anyone who is asking.
It still stands that the cat does not meet the advertised standard. In the USA, pets fall under the “Lemon Laws” and the owner of a pedigree cat that does not meet the advertised look can seek restitution from the breeder. The cat was so traumatised that the new owner did not want to do this. She alleges that when she complained it did not meet the standard, Mrs Gobble told her she should be grateful that she was an early owner of such a rare breed. A partial refund would have been more appropriate as hairlessness is a defect.
6. You then go on to try to insult our intelligence by saying that we stated the Ojo Azule gene is what we had coming in the blue eyed cats. We say this because by TICA standard definition, the Ojo Azule is the only breed that is a normal, non pointed cat that can have blue eyes. Regardless of gene.
The Ojos Azules was the only blue-eyed breed presented for TICA recognition. T ICA are not the only registry. The Topaz is registered with the WCF and this means it could be transferred into TICA under its original name as has been done for other breeds. Registry transfers are not uncommon.
It has also been proven that it is not always a lethal gene, it depends on breeding and most people are unsure of how it works.
Geneticist Solveig Pflueger proved otherwise. The link between the Ojos Azules and deformities led her to stop experimental breeding and led TICA to let the breed lapse. It was not a case of people not knowing how the gene worked. It was a case of a noted geneticist finding the Ojos Azules gene unsafe to work with.
As stated before, no one can tell you which gene it is until diagnostics are done to locate the gene. Iryna is actually selling kittens on her website, I just looked, as Ojo Azules. Topaz is not recognized in the US as a breed, so if we registered these cats with TICA, they would have to be registered as Ojo Azules by TICA rules.
This is not true. TICA allows breeds recognised by other registries (e.g. Topaz is being registered with the WCF) to be registered with TICA under existing breed name.
7. You then state we will have more novelty cats for the Lykoi because of the curled ears. We do have a Lykoi that was found by a couple in Utah that now lives in California. She did not have normal ears, but they are not curled. It was a surprise to us when four of her six kittens started curling. The curl gene is dominant, so keeping the two non curled eared cats for genetics could be done. The others were placed as pets. We have permission form the owner to do one more breeding for genetic diversity in the Lykoi which we will do. They then want her back home as a spayed pet cat with one of her kittens from the last litter. That is the contract we have with them. They are very happy to have contributed to the breed and look forward to having her at home at a young age.
Actually, I had asked if it would result in a new novelty. Questions are not statements of fact.
8. You finalize your article with hatred toward us again. You do not even try to explain our view or even try to say anything nice. You do not state that the Lykoi would really not exist without our work and leadership to the breeders. Patti had no intention of breeding them and every other breeder is the result of us talking with them and sending them cats from our home. As I said before, we can get you some positive comments from our kitten owners. Yes, some do have a problem with us like Lynne, but the vast majority are very happy with their cat and us as their breeder. If you keep you word by posting this email, then thank you for allowing my rebuttal. If you do not post it, then you are just perpetuating the hate that your small group of breeders have for us.
Johnny Gobble, DVM
How can compiling a report, backed up by images, screenshots and summarised emails (of which I have transcripts), be perpetuating hate? Plus I have, as requested, printed this email in its entirety. By contrast, there was the threat of publishing emails and images and keeping a dossier on those who are not part of the Gobbles' circle of breeders. There are two sides of a story and I have allowed a response. However, I've found that the response does not always tie up with other emails that have been sent.