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The Wampus Cat, also known as the Wampus Beast or Cherokee Death Cat, is a large panther/cat-like creature in American Folklore. Its origins are thought to have come from Cherokee Mythology and tales of the lumberjacks, and can range from frightful to comical depending on the region.


The appearance of the Wampus Cat varies wildly though generally it's a cat-like creature that terrorizes neighborhoods. It is also sometimes described as being half-cat and half-dog.[1] In West Texas, it's reported to be nocturnal in nature and infamous for it's terribly loud "raucous voice". In Washington state, it's thought to shed it's whiskers, white ones by day and black ones by night. It is also often depicted as being a fearsome water-panther, having fur as "black as dusk".[2] In non-Native American cultures, it's said it has glowing yellow eyes that can pierce through people's souls and drive them insane. [1]It is also sometimes reported to walk on hind-legs.[3]

In the 1939 Fearsome Critters book, the Wampus Cat is depicted as a bipedal cat at the size of the Maine Coon cat having tufted ears, a tail of a lion, sharp claws, whiskers, a comical smile and a right forearm like a folding pruning hook but on the pantographic principle, thanks to Nature who endowed the marvelous Wampus Cat with that amazing right forearm. The Wampus Cat lives in Idaho and its scientific name is Aquilamappreluendens forcipe. The Wampus Cat was first seen and introduced since the first specimen of the Wampus Cat is discovered scratching false blazes on mountain trails, and because of that, the Wampus Cat is blamed for a variety of forest tribulations. Females can be killed only with a crosscut saw and the males are practically but not completely indestructible with the germ of blister rust in their fur. The glare from their eyes is said to start forest fires under the full moon's influence. Their footprints are only visible in solid rock. The Wampus Cat steals prospectors' picks to brush their teeth. If the Wampus Cat wades a stream, the fish won't bite for a week. When the Wampus Cat is on the prowl, the only game is the fool hen. The howl of the Wampus Cat on a lonely night curdles a crock of sourdough. The Wampus Cat lurks on a craggy promontory with its tufted ears aslant like the budding prongs of a young goat. The Wampus Cat can change its voice from the customary howl of a disfranchised banshee to the bleat of a kid.

Now the Wampus Cat, still abundant in its native Idaho and particularly large and violent during the season when the crop of dudes yields a bushel to the picket-line, has the opportunity to redeem itself as good. The Wampus Cat's favorite pastime is catching eagles, thanks to all because of the trappers of Salmon River are plagued with eagles killing deer and also the game department and the Eagle Lovers being angry with each other over the eagles.

The simple solution has been created by what's known as the Wampus Society, (named after the Wampus Cat), which is composed of every human, regardless of male and female gender and age who has seen the rampant Wampus Cat at dusk menacing and threatening cougars with jackhammers, is that the burden be turned over to the Wampus breed, and that once the Wampus Cat has reached the eagle country, the feathers will fly. When an eagle approaches, the strange arm shoots out with astonishing speed and direction. The eagle is caught and reeled in.

If the Wampus Cat is hungry, it will eat the whole eagle. If the Wampus Cat's mood is playful, it extracts the whole eagle's tail fan and releases the bird. The feathers are then given to Native Americans. Surprisingly, the Wampus Cat is friendly and benevolent to Native Americans, and has been offered as one reason why the Native Americans never turned in the Wampus Cat's fur. Primitive trappers also declared that the hide runs mostly on quills and the colors are akin to that of a Christmas necktie.

Origin of the Wampus Cat, on the authority of the mountain men of Stanley Basin, dates back to the beaver, old-fashioned. It seems that a trapper's dog surprised a beaver far from water and there was nothing for the beaver to do but to climb a tree. But beavers cannot climb trees. So the beaver becomes the Wampus Cat.

Once the Wampus Cat is lured to the bailiwick of the wicked Salmon River eagles, the quick-witted Wampus Cat swiftly eradicated the fowls of the air, and not sparing the wild turkeys planted there. The Wampus Cat knows the eagle, but trouble is anticipated when the eagle and the turkey cross into a new species known as the Turkeagle, and that the Wampus Cat cannot tell them apart because it cannot spell.

The biggest puzzle brought to the attention of the Wampus Society is how to dispose of the Wampus Cat once it has exterminated the pernicious eagle. Gorged on its favorite food and happy in the free and wild environment of the Middle Fork, the Wampus Cat decided to stay permanently. No predator has been known to live on the Wampus Cat's flesh meat, and the Wampus Cat became a plague worse than the eagle it has been called upon to exterminate.

However, only the Whiffenpoof, also living in Idaho, can put the Wampus Cat to rout, and that the Whiffenpoof has the way, but seldom the will. The Whiffenpoof comes down both sides of a perfectly circular lake or river at once. This makes the deadly Wampus Cat unable to make up its mind on which flank to attack, so it folds its pantographic arm and resolves itself into a midnight screech. [4]

The Wampus Cat is the mascot for Clark Fork Secondary/Senior High School, Conway High School, Atoka High School, Itasca High School and Leesville High School. Conway High School depicts it with six legs while Clark Fork Secondary/Senior High School depicts it closer to the ball-tailed cat.


There are many tales of the Wampus Cat in Cherokee Mythology. In one tale, the Wampus Cat is known as the Ewah, a Cherokee woman who did not trust her husband. This woman's husband went out to hunt with his fellow warrior. Suspicious, the woman put on a mountain lion coat and went to spy on him. When she was found out, the medicine man punished her by forcing her to wear the skin forever, transforming her spirit into the Wampus Cat.[3]

Another tale tells the story of husband and wife Standing Bear and Running Deer. Standing Bear, the strongest warrior, went out to battle with the Ewah who was terrorizing their village. Eventually Standing Bear returned, driven insane by the Ewah and a shell of the warrior he once was. Running Deer wanted revenge for her husband and went to the shamans, who gave her the mask of a bobcat's face and covered her body with black paste to hide her scent. After days of searching for the Ewah, Running Deer finally saw the Ewah and crept up to surprise it.  Having seen her bobcat mask, the Ewah's magic turned in on itself, banishing it for good. It is said Running Deer's spirit now inhabits the Wampus Cat, who continues to watch over and protect her village. [5]

Other tales tell of a witch who lived alone in the mountains. At night, she would turn herself into a cat and steal chickens and pigs from nearby farms.[3]


The Wampus Cat is thought to have been responsible for killing livestock in the Appalachian and Southern areas. Reports of the Wampus Cat first came about in the first half of the 19th century with sightings continuing to this day.[6][7]

Willy McQuillian from the AIMS team on the show Mountain Monsters encountered it when he was nine years old. His parents told him to get something from the shed late at night. He went out and became face-to-face with a jet-black panther-like creature with glowing eyes. The creature gave a weird high-pitch hissing like sound, which frightened him back inside his house. Many years later, on his same farm, he had the same kind of encounter with the beast, precisely like the encounter he had as a 9-year-old, he also lost a lot of his pigs to the creature. Another meeting around the same area happened when a lady was driving a school bus late at night, and a creature that was black and large leaped out of the woods in front of the bus.

In Popular Media[]

  • A musical ensemble named 'The Wampus Cats' recorded several tracks in 1937 and 1938 and consisted of six to seven string musicians.
  • In J.K. Rowling's Pottermore story, History of Magic In North America, the Wampus Cat is listed as a source of hair used in magic wands.
  • In Skylanders: Imaginators, Skylander Sensei Mysticat is a sphinx with traits similar to that of a Wampus Cat.
  • In Cormac McCarthy novel The Orchard Keeper, character Uncle Ather tells stories of  Wampus Cats known as "painters".



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