Were-Cats Folklore

Latti Ice Nerd Gangsta of PHAET 2013/02/02 04:05:20
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In folklore and fantasy fiction, werecats are shapeshifters who are similar to werewolves, except that they turn into some species of feline instead of a wolf. The species involved can be a 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 was not directly used in legends from earlier eras, only by later folklorists' commentary.

    • There is not much presence of werecats in European mythology and folklore except the famous black cats which were once described as familiar or imps, lesser demons that would serve witches during the Middle-Ages.
    • Bast or Bastet is a famous Egyptian Goddess.
    • In “The master and Margarita”, the Devil is accompanied by several demons including the mischievous, gun-happy, fast-talking black cat Behemoth (Бегемот, a subversive Puss in Boots) who shapeshift from man to cat according to circumstances.
    • Weretigers are predominent in Asia, Weretigers in India, Werelions in Africa and wereleopards in South America

    African legends describe people who turn into lions, hyenas, crocodiles or leopards. The Makanga of Central Africa still believe that witches are capable of transformations into such beasts.


    Hyena people are Africa's version of the werewolf. Whole tribes may be affected by lycanthropy. Belief in Were-hyenas is so entrenched within the traditional lore of the Bornu people of north-eastern Nigeria that their language even contains a special word 'bultungin' which translates as ' I change myself into a hyena.'

    A Bouda is sorcerer/blacksmith that can change into a were-hyena. It often wears an ornament from its human form, by which it can be recognized. A white hunter wrote that he once shot hyaenas wearing golden earrings. Other were-hyenas, known as Qora, were punished in the old Kingdom of Kaffa, now part of Ethiopia


    With werecats who turn into lions, the ability is often associated with royalty. Such a being may have been a king or queen in a former life, or may be destined for leadership in this life. This quality of heroic warriorship can be seen in the lions of Tsavo, which were reputed to be kings in lion shape, attempting to repel the invading Europeans by stopping their railroad.


    Were-leopard traditions in West Africa center around the leopard-men societies, whose members dress in leopard skins, arm themselves with iron claws, and mutilate their enemies in emulation of the beasts into whose likeness they claim the ability to transform themselves. In the 1930's members of the Anyoto tribe belonging to a secret society of leopard men went on a killing spree in the Belgian Congo. Dressed in costumes of bark painted with black and yellow spots they stalked their enemies in the jungle slaughtering them with claw-shaped knifes.

    In 1946 another group of leopard-men terrorized a village near Lagos and a year later stories appeared in London newspapers about a group of Lion-men in Tanganyika who had killed 50 victims before being captured.

    In other areas, the creature is believed to be a leopard god or goddess masquerading as human. When these gods mate with humans, offspring can be produced, and these children sometimes grow up to be shapeshifters. Any of them who never transform will have other powers.


    The ilimu of Kenya is a man-eating shapeshifter that starts out as an animal, but can shift into the form of a man.

    Were leopards Were leopards Wereleopards art Were hyenas werelions werelions werelions werehyenas  werehyenas  werehyenas  werecrocodiles  werecrocodiles  wereleopard Were hyenas


    The most popular werecreatures in Japanese folklore is the kitsune (fox) and the tanuki or mijina (raccoon dog or badger). The kitsune is usually a female, and the tanuki, a male. The terrible tengu is also a shapeshifter (a bird). Collectively, shapeshifters are called henge.


    The rakshasa or raghosh is a huge creature that can shift into any type of animal that it wants. It is characterized by its large size and its red or blonde hair.

    The Nagas are snake-people of Asian countries, especially India & Nepal; they may appear either as transforming between human and snake, or as a cross between the two (such as the upper torso being human and the lower torso being serpentine); some Nagas may also assume the form of dragons like in Cambodia or Thailand (Khmer).

    The weretiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock who might at any time turn to man-eating.


    The aswang is a vampire-werewolf who transforms from a human to a canine form at night, and eats human flesh. The aswang also manifests itself as a decaying corpse that has been severed at the waist (in other words...it has nothing from the waist down)... with batwings. They are very closely related to the Berbalang ghouls of legend.

    The southern Filipino berbalang are a sort of ghouls or vampires who fly through the air in their astral bodies in the form of a swarm of reddish fireflies in search of human victims to devour and kill.

    When not flying through the air as swarms of reddish fireflies making a horrid howling or moaning noise, they look like ordinary human beings distinguishable only by their cat-like eye pupils. The berbalang were described in 1896 by a Hong Kong based English anthropologist named Ethelbert Forbes Skertchley, who had spent a few years on Cagayan Sulu in the extreme southern Philippines studying local customs and beliefs, in a paper on "Cagayan Sulu, its Customs, Legends, and Superstitions," in the _Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal_, Vol. LXV, Part III, Np. 1, 1896. Skertchley even claimed to have had a personal close encounter with the berbalang in their moaning firefly-cloud astral phase! Rupert T. Gould summarized and quoted Skertchley's paper in his chapter on "The Berbalangs of Cagayan Sulu" in _Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts_ (1928). Most subsequent popular 20th century accounts of the _berbalang_ have basically been rehashes of Gould's summary of Skertchley.


    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 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 would 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.

    Indonesia (Bali)

    The layak is a spirit that shapeshifts into people, animals, or objects and causes mischief, illnesses and even death.

     kitsune  fox   tanuki  tanuki The rakshasa The rakshasa The aswang The aswang The aswang


    A hamrammr (from old Icelandic literature) is a werecreature that shifts into the form of the animal it has most recently eaten. Its strength increases with each animal that it consumes.

    Ireland and Scotland

    The Selkies are seals that take off their skins to become human. Dark-haired Celts may have their origins explained via the Selkies. They are usually helpful creatures who watch over fishermen. Kelpies are a kind of shapeshifting sea horse.

    Púca and some other Celtic spirits and Síde (fairies) can change their form at will and typically pose as animals or loved ones. Leprechauns turn into hideous creatures to scare you into releasing them when captured.

    Norway and Sweden

    The eigi einhamir or "not of one skin" has the ability to change into a wolf by wearing a wolfskin. There is also the ulfheobar (wolfskin), which is usually lumped in with berserker.

    Leszi are spirits of Slavic mythology, capable of changing into any creature or plant.

    Normandy, France

    The lubins or lupins look like wolves, but can speak human languages. They are very shy.

    The eigi einhamir The eigi einhamir The Selkies The Selkies  hamrammr


    Throughout its history, Mexico has been known for their shamans, wizards and "curanderos" (healers), which are sometimes called Nahuales or Naguales. They are said to have shapeshifting abilities, usually turning into coyotes, wolves ,jaguars and even eagles or bulls. Aztec folklore described jaguar people as being specially blessed by one of the gods, but modern Mexican folklore is more likely to attribute such transformation powers to the devil.


    The chonchon is a shapeshifter that changes from a witch into a vulture.


    Encantados are are "the enchanted ones," creatures from an underwater realm, usually dolphins with the ability to change into humans. The Boto, according to Tupu legends, transforms from a river dolphin into a handsome boy. There is also the Uirapuru, a small brown bird who lives in the Amazon Basin and can also transform into a beautiful boy

    Argentina and Bolivia

    Like other South American countries, the werebeasts here are usually werejaguars, known as runa-uturungu, uturunco, yaguareté-abá, kanima and other names depending on the region. In some tribes, all shamans were thought to have the ability to become jaguars. Female werejaguars have an extra pair of nipples that betray their true nature. A woman with "supernumary nipples" may find herself to be accused of being this creature. In the early 1900s, the legends of weres in Argentina became so widespread that children were being abandoned or killed to protect them from the curse. In the 1920s, Hipólito Irigoyen came to power backed by the Cabal, and managed to get a law passed making all such children the president's godchildren; they receive a gold medal at their baptism, and even today attending the baptisms is an important campaign event.

    There are also urban legends about jaguar shapeshifters lurking along highways in tales similar to the vanishing hitchhiker and of them being assassins secretly employed by the government or organized crime.

    The fox-like werewolf here was brought by European settlers and is called lobizón or lobisón. It eats excrement, carrion and sometimes non-baptised babies. The seventh consecutive child of the same gender may spontaneously become a lycanthrope, as may surviving victims, just as for other weres.


    Tula Vieja has been and continues to be sighted in Panama on a regular basis. The creature takes the form of a very, very old woman or witch (bruja) with a crow's foot for a right hand. This child-eating shifter haunts all places dark and dismal, waiting to take anyone back to Hell with her that she can get her claw/hand on.

     Nahuales  Nahuales  Nahuales The chonchon The chonchon The chonchon The Boto myth The Boto myth werejaguars werejaguars werejaguars werejaguars lobiz n lobiz n lobiz n

    United States

    Native Americans have many different types of limikkin or "skin walkers." The yenaldooshi from the Navajo tribes is also said to have the power to assume the form of a coyote or other animal. There are numerous tales of shapeshifting in Native American mythology, the most notable being prey animals such as buffalo and deer, and predators such as bears and wolves.

    Thunderbirds are huge birdlike creatures described in the lore of several Native American tribes which in some tales turn into human beings

    PtesanWi: a woman of Lakota legend, rumored to have appeared as a white buffalo.


    The shapeshifter here is the wendigo, also called the witiko.

    limikkin skin walkers navajo skin walkers navajo skin walkers navajo were bears werebears art werebears art werebears art werebears art Thunderbirds navajo Thunderbirds navajo Thunderbirds navajo myth  wendigo wendigo wendigo wendigo

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    • Stacie 2013/02/02 08:39:39
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      "Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
      - Mark Twain Notebook, 1894

      mark twain and cat

      "I literally wake up and there's just fur everywhere. It's so awesome."
      - Ian Somerhalder

      Ian Somerhalder and cat
      Ian Somerhalder and cat

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    • elptrek P.H.A.E.T.'s wizard 2013/02/02 13:04:50
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      elptrek P.H.A.E.T.'s wizard
    • Lady Whitewolf 2013/02/02 10:59:53
      Lady Whitewolf
      Anyone here read the "Warriors" series by Erin Hunter? Anyone adopted a "clan Cat" persona?
    • Latti I... Lady Wh... 2013/02/02 18:27:22
      Latti Ice Nerd Gangsta of PHAET
      No, but now I will read it; thanks for the info.
    • Lady Wh... Latti I... 2013/02/03 18:06:29
      Lady Whitewolf
      Any time!
    • Stacie 2013/02/02 08:39:39
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      "Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
      - Mark Twain Notebook, 1894

      mark twain and cat

      "I literally wake up and there's just fur everywhere. It's so awesome."
      - Ian Somerhalder

      Ian Somerhalder and cat
      Ian Somerhalder and cat

    • Michael McFascist 2013/02/02 08:08:50 (edited)
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      Michael McFascist
      AMAZING IMAGES! Really cool info too! If I could be anything besides a person it would be a cat...I just think they're awesome, and otherworldly, and quite frankly just straight up sexy animals, I wish I could turn in to one...why can't I turn into one for christ's sake?!?!!
    • ☆RogueofDoom☆ 2013/02/02 05:35:55
      Very interesting information, and beautiful pictures.
    • Dave 2013/02/02 05:08:07
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      One of my favorite films is "Cat People" - both versions 1942 & 1982.

      Cat People

      Cat People
    • Michael... Dave 2013/02/02 08:04:32
      Michael McFascist
      I remember being 12 years old and falling in love with Natassja Kinski after watching that movie.
    • Dave Michael... 2013/02/02 18:39:57
      I've been in love with her since "Tess".
    • Chris- Demon of the PHAET 2013/02/02 04:56:54
      Interesting; I'd Like to Add
      Chris- Demon of the PHAET
    • Latti I... Chris- ... 2013/02/02 05:13:17

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