Mythical Creatures: Werecats


Here's another creature I come across often in anime and manga. I didn't know werecats were a thing- you know, an actual folklore. I just though it was something people made up. If you've ever watched anime, you'd know they love putting cat ears on characters, especially females.


In folklore and fantasy fiction, werecats are shapeshifters similar to werewolves, except that they turn into some species of feline--domestic cat, a tiger, a lion, a leopard, a lynx, or any other type, including some that are purely fantastical felines.

The word "werecat" was not coined until the late 19th century, so it wasn't directly used in legends from earlier eras, only by later folklorists' commentary.

In the 19th century, an occultist said that material cat and dog transformations could be produced by manipulating the "ethereal fluid" that human bodies are supposedly floating in. A witch-hunting manual said that witches can turn into cats, but that their transformations are illusions created by demons. Another occultist claimed that werecats called "cat shifters" exist as part of a "shifter subculture" or underground New Age religion based on lycanthropy and related beliefs.

Different countries have their own version of werecats. In mainland Asian, werecats usually become tigers. In India, the weretiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock, who might turn to man-eating. Chinese legends often describe weretigers as the victims of either heredity or a vindictive ghost. Ancient teachings held that every race except the Han Chinese were really animals in disguise, so that there was nothing extraordinary about some of these false humans reverting to their true natures. 

Alternately, the ghosts of people who had been killed by tigers could become malevolent supernatural beings, devoting all their energy to making sure that tigers killed more humans. Some of these ghosts were responsible for transforming ordinary humans into man-eating weretigers. Also, in Japanese folklore there are creatures called bakeneko that are similar to kitsune (fox spirits) and tanuki (raccoon dogs).

Sources: