If you thought Sphynx cats were the only baldies worth bothering about, then prepare for a surprise as you meet the Ukrainian Levkoy. These distinctive little creatures aren’t everyone’s cup of tea at first glance, but it’d take a cold heart not to fall for their sweet, playful personalities. A relative newcomer to the pet world, the breed has been growing in popularity in its native Ukraine for several years, and is all set to go global over the coming decade. To find out more, read on to find out 20 things you didn’t know about the Ukrainian Levkoy.
1. They’re a designer breed
We’re used to designer cross-breeds in the dog world, but not so much in the cat world. Which makes the Ukrainian Levkoy even more unusual than their distinctive appearance suggests. As Wiki notes, the breed was developed by Elena Biriukova in Ukraine, and achieved by cross-breeding hairless Donskoy females with Scottish Fold metis males. To widen the gene pool, Biriukova started introducing Oriental and Domestic breeds into the mix; by 2004, she’d hit on the perfect balance.
2. They’ve achieved official recognition in Ukraine
Designer crossbreeds are sometimes overlooked by official institutes, but the Ukrainian Levkoy has managed to worm its way into the hearts of several major organizations. It was first recognized in Ukraine by ICFA RUI (Rolandus Union International) in 2005. In 2010, the ICFA WCA in Russia extended the breed official recognition. Since 2010, they’ve been allowed to take part in “The Best in Show” competition in both Ukraine and Russia, as well as having the opportunity to compete for the title of ‘champion’.
3. They’re hard to win around
If you’re welcoming a Ukrainian Levkoy into your home, be prepared to be patient. As gokitty.com notes, Ukrainian Levkoy’s can take a little time to warm up to a new environment, and may initially appear shy and skittish. But once the nerves go, you’ll find them an incredibly friendly, sociable little creature that makes a great family pet. As happy with children as they are with adults, they also tend to get on well with other animals, making them a good choice for multi-pet households.
4. They don’t shed
Cats shed. Or at least, 99% of them do. If you like the idea of a cat but don’t want to spend the rest of your life plucking their hairs from your clothes, there’s a solution – the Ukrainian Levkoy. Just like the Donskoy side of their family tree, Ukrainian Levkoy’s are hairless (or most are, at least – a few have a very small amount of baby-fine down, but it’s usually too insignificant to notice), meaning no shedding and no annoying furballs.
5. They should be kept away from direct sunlight
A Ukrainian Levkoy’s lack of fur might minimize how much time you need to spend grooming them, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely maintenance-free. Without any hair to protect their delicate skin, the breed should avoid direct sunlight (a burnt cat is an unhappy cat), as well as any drafty or cold spots (without any warming fur to protect them, they can catch a chill much easier than other cats).
6. They need to be bathed regularly
This might come as a surprise, but cats produce quite a lot of natural oils from their skins. For most cats, it’s not an issue: their hair simply absorbs the oil and their tongues do the rest. For the hairless Ukrainian Levkoy, it’s a bit more of a problem. To stop any skin problems occurring from a build-up of excess oils and sweat, they require regular bathing or, at the very least, a thorough ‘wipe-down’ from time to time. Aim to bathe them once a month and sponge them down daily. You’ll also need to keep their claws trimmed and their paws cleaned. As dirt can accumulate in their folded ears quite easily, use a damp cloth to keep them clean and stop any infections developing.
7. They have a distinctive appearance
It’s not only an absence of hair that make Ukrainian Levkoy such a distinctive looking breed. Thanks to their Scottish Fold heritage, their wide-set, large ears fold forwards to the head, given them a unique appearance that sets them apart from most cats. Their large, slanted eyes are almost theatrical looking, while their wedge-shaped heads with their low foreheads and long, flat skulls are reminiscent of a Siamese. Their prominent cheekbones and angular eyebrows complete their distinct look.
8. They have a medium build
While hairless cats are typically slender, slight creatures, the Ukrainian Levkoy is cut from a different cloth. While slender, their long, medium build bodies are surprisingly muscular. As thedutifulcat.com notes, males are slightly larger than females, and will usually weigh between 11 and 15 pounds. Females are typically smaller and weigh between 7 and 12 pounds.
9. They’re easy to train
If you thought dogs were the only pets that could be trained, you’ve clearly never met a Ukrainian Levkoy. A highly intelligent breed, their naturally curious and people-pleasing personalities make them incredibly receptive to training. As well as picking up tricks easily, they can also be trained to retrieve, come, sit, or stay. Like all cats, they respond better to the carrot than the stick, so only ever use training techniques that utilize positive reinforcement. Reward their every endeavor and achievement with plenty of love, affection, and treats, and you’ll have a well-trained cat on your hands in no time.
10. They live a long time
If you welcome a Ukrainian Levkoy into your house, prepare for them to be there for the long haul. Although they’re susceptible to a few genetic health conditions, they’re generally a very healthy, robust cat. Feed them a good, nutritious diet, give them plenty of the right kind of exercise, and treat them to regular check-ups, and as worldlifeexpectancy.com notes, you can expect them to live for at least 15 – 20 years.
11. They’re hypoallergenic
If you thought your allergies took owning a pet off of the table, think again. Some breeds are naturally hypoallergenic, meaning they won’t have you reaching for the Kleenex every two minutes, no matter how long they snuggle in your lap. The Ukrainian Levkoy is one such creature, making them a great pet for allergy sufferers. Other cats that won’t set your sinuses alight include the Balinese, the Oriental Shorthair, the Javanese, the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex, and the Siberian.
12. They’re like little dogs
If you’d secretly like a dog but can’t commit to the daily walks, get a Ukrainian Levkoy instead. Sure, no one’s going to look at one and confuse them for a dog, but in terms of personality, they’re remarkably similar. While some cats have a reputation for aloofness and independence, Ukrainian Levkoy’s love nothing more than spending time with their owners. As well as greeting you at the door, they tend to follow your around from room to room. Like dogs, they don’t like to be left alone for long stretches of the day, and can quickly become bored, anxious, and lonely if you’re away for long. If you need to spend a lot of time in the office, it’s worth considering getting them a little companion to play with.
13. They’re very adaptable
Ukrainian Levkoy’s are incredibly adaptable little creatures. Whether you live in a huge mansion with a 10-acre garden or a tiny little studio without so much as a balcony, they’ll settle down comfortably regardless of their surroundings. But remember – Ukrainian Levkoy’s, like all cats, need plenty of exercise. If your apartment is too small for them to get their exercise needs by simply running around, be sure to introduce plenty of regular play sessions into the day to keep their muscles lithe and limber.
14. They’re incredibly wrinkly
What Ukrainian Levkoy’s lack in hair, they more than make up for in wrinkles. Some cats may develop a small amount of peachy baby fluff that tends to grow mainly around their points, but most will be entirely hairless… which makes their many wrinkles all the more noticeable. As with humans, the wrinkles tend to get more pronounced with age; with each year that passes, you’re likely to notice more and more wrinkles and folds popping up around their groin, legs, belly, neck, eyes, and head. Although the wrinkles are nothing to worry about, be sure you wash between the folds to prevent any excess oils or sweat becoming trapped.
15. They are vulnerable to tooth disease
All cats can develop periodontal disease, but the Ukrainian Levkoy is more susceptible than most. Keep a close watch on their oral hygiene, and try to develop a regular cleaning routine as soon as possible. Although cats rarely take kindly to having their teeth brushed at first, with perseverance and patience, you’ll eventually find they become, if not happy with the situation, then at least tolerant of it. Most pet owners find that a finger toothbrush (in which the brush fits over your fingertip) is the easiest to use, while investing in some meat or cheese flavored toothpaste can make a world of difference. Just remember to only ever use a toothpaste that’s been specifically made for cats – regular pastes designed for humans have all kinds of added chemicals and additives that can be toxic to kitties.
16. They need regular check-ups
Although it’s a little early in their history to know for sure if the Ukranian Levkoy has inherited any genetic conditions or health concerns from their family tree, regular check-ups are a must. Both the Donskoy and Scottish Fold are known to have predispositions towards certain diseases, including Congenital Osteodystrophy (COD), Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Cardiomyopathy, ear infections, and deafness; if they’ve passed on any of these to their offspring, early detection is vital. Like all cats, they also need to be dewormed regularly and receive vaccinations against infectious feline diseases.
17. They need plenty of warmth
Given how follicly challenged the Ukrainian Levkoy is, it’ll probably come as no great surprise to learn that they’re more vulnerable to the elements than most cats. On the one hand, this makes them susceptible to sunstroke, sunburn, and skin-related cancers. On the other hand, it makes them more prone to feeling the cold. If you live in a cold climate, you shouldn’t let your Ukrainian Levkoy outside unless they’re probably dressed for the weather (and yep, you might feel a little foolish dressing your cat in a chunky knit sweater, but that’s the price you pay for buying a designer cat). Even inside can get a little chilly for them, making plenty of warm cozy blankets or even a heated bed a must.
18. They need a high-calorie diet in winter
Providing you’re feeding them a high-quality foodstuff, there’s no real difference between what you’d feed a Ukranian Levkoy and what you’d feed any other breed. Although you may want to go the extra mile by buying food specifically created for hairless breeds, it’s not necessary. However, one thing to bear in mind is how their calorie needs change according to the season: as catspro.com notes, switching to a higher calorie food in winter is often recommended due to the higher amount of energy they use to keep warm.
19. They should only be bought from a reputable source
At the moment, the Ukrainian Levkoy is still a little bit of an unknown quantity – something that makes it all the more important to only ever buy from a reputable and responsible breeder. Make sure that the kitten has received all the required vaccinations and has been socialized well, and don’t even think of bringing them home before they’re at least 16 weeks old.
20. They need 20 minutes of exercise a day
Like all cats, the Ukrainian Levkoy needs plenty of exercise. Although they don’t need to be walked or subject to any serious fitness routine, aim for at least 20 minutes of play each day to keep them fit and healthy.