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The "cactus cat" as it appears in Fearsome critters 1910

Cactus cat By Tryon

Fearsome Critters 1939

The Cactus Cat (Cactifelinus inebrius) is a mythical creature and Fearsome Critter that has been reported in the American Southwest. It's described as a bobcat-like animal with thorn-like fur, sharp bones protruding from its front legs and a branched tail. The Cactus Cat has been sighted in the Southwestern desert, in states such as California, Nevada and New Mexico with a few sightings in Colorado.

Cowboys and pioneers of the nineteenth century made up tales these strange beasts coming out at night, slashing open cacti exposing the sap. On later nights, the creature was said to drink the fermented juice. This caused the cats to enter an intoxicated state, stumbling around and rarely attacking travelers. Attacks by these strange varmint, though considered rare, did happen from time to time, with many frontiersmen waking up to find welts on their body from the cat's barbed tail. Despite these attacks, the Cactus Cat was not considered an aggressive creature (except toward cacti). The critter was also known to have a unique and haunting "wail" that could be heard at night through the darkened desert, along with the dry sound of its bones rubbing together.

In Fearsome Creatures (2015), the Cactus Cat is the relative and the descendant of the Wampus Cat and the Ball-Tailed Cat. The cat is remade to be the same but bigger and with a ball at the end of the tail that has spikes on it and on the Cactus Cat's tongue. The Cactus Cat is also no longer extinct in the book, like with the Roperite. The Cactus Cat does not like humans stealing cactus sap to be made as a syrup alternate, and kills those who did. The scientific name is Wampus bibulus.

Catcus Cat

Cactus Cat as it appears in Fearsome critters 2015 - note that it looks more like a ball-tailed cat.


The story of the Cactus Cat is probably fueled by numerous cases of misidentification, most likely being a bobcat, mountain lion or porcupine. The cat's "wail" may have also been that of a puma. It is also likely that the affable Cactus Cat was never believed to exist and, like most Fearsome Critters, was a product of a few bored woodsmen on a warm desert night.

In Popular Media[]

  • The Cactus Cat appeared in the animated cartoon, The Secret Saturdays.
  • The Cactus Cat is featured in popular trading card game MetaZoo: Cryptid Nation.

Further reading[]

"The Cactus Cat" from Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods (1910) by William T. Cox

"The Cactus Cat" from Fearsome Critters (1939) by Henry H. Tryon