Catfolk

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Catfolk are Fantastic Sapient Species that are based on felines. They generally have a body type resembling felines to one degree or another, and are sometimes named after Real Life feline species. They can be science-fiction aliens or fantasy races. In terms of appearance, they can fall anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism from fully animal looking to barely non-human, however they must be sapient, non-human, and a distinct species from Real Life animals. Unlike Catgirls, Catfolk have no particular tendency toward being female.

While Catfolk have been depicted with a variety of behavioural and cultural characteristics, it is common to base at least some of their behaviour on feline Animal Stereotypes. Catfolk based on large predatory cats, such as lions, tigers, and panthers,[1] are generally depicted as being exceptionally strong and aggressive, with a Proud Warrior Race culture. Those based more around domestic cats are often depicted as selfish, arrogant and vain, with their fighting styles bent more towards dirty fighting, speed and agility.

This is closely related to Intelligent Gerbil (science fiction aliens based on animals), Petting Zoo People, and Little Bit Beastly. There can be overlap between this trope and Catgirl, however only examples of Catfolk that fall under Little Bit Beastly should also be listed under Catgirl; Catgirl examples should only be listed here if they represent an entire distinct species.

Feline Therianthropes and humans that shapeshift into cats are Werecats. Humans that are dressed as cats have on a Cat Eared Headband. Cartoon Funny Animals and Talking Animals are not this trope, as they are intended to depict Real Life animals, however anthropomorphic they may be.

Not to be confused with the movie Cat People or the Cat Person series of Internet shorts.


Examples of Catfolk include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Among the humanoid animals in the future of Jack Kirby's Kamandi are a race of honor-driven tiger people; Final Crisis tied their culture's origins to the Captain Marvel character and proud Cat Fellow Mr. Tawky-Tawny, "the Civilized Tiger."
  • The Marvel Universe has the Cat People, who were created from house cats by ancient sorcerers. The Avengers character Tigra got her powers from them.
  • The Felim in Nexus are a race of Little Bit Beastly aliens, who also qualify for Catgirl.
  • The Aldebarans from Bucky O Hare and The Toad Wars.
  • Orube in WITCH has feline-like features. This is a relatively common characteristic on her homeworld of Basiliade (the second inhabitant of Basiliade to appear, Luba, is even more cat-looking than her), but not universal, as shown by the very first of them to appear, the Oracle Himerish, being externally identical to humans.

Film[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The classic series of Doctor Who had the leonine Tharils in "Warriors' Gate" and the Cheetah People in "Survival".
    • The Sisters of Plentitude in the episodes "New Earth" and "Gridlock".
    • The Sisters weren't the only members of their species, as shown by Thomas Brannigan in "Gridlock".
  • On Red Dwarf, the ship's cats evolved over the eons into a Little Bit Beastly species of very vain humanoids, one of whom is a main character.
  • One episode of Babylon 5 has Jha'dur, the last warmaster of the Dilgar and last surviving Dilgar in general.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • C. J. Cherryh's Chanur series has the Hani, a species who are essentially bipedal intelligent terrestrial lions.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover stories: the cat-men (or cat-people).
  • The Hrrubans in Anne McCaffrey's Doona books.
  • The Chelgrians in Iain M Banks's The Culture book Look To Windward (2000).
  • The Honor Harrington books have Treecats, a six-legged telepathic species resembling Terran cats.
  • John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass novel features the Mreee (pronounced the way a cat yowls when you stomp it's tail) who look like three-foot tall anthropomorphic house cats and whose native language sounds like "cats stuck in a barrel."
  • The Kzinti in Larry Niven's Known Space books are an aggressive alien species resembling bipedal big cats in looks and personality. Or at least, their personality is derived from cat stereotypes. For instance, the Kzinti are impatient and excessively eager to attack (scream and leap, as described repeatedly) without proper consideration of tactics or their safety, while in reality, cats are in fact usually far more patient and averse to taking unnecessary risks when hunting than humans and may lie still for hours waiting for the right moment to pounce on prey with the greatest chance of success. They're generally much quieter about it than humans on the attack too, and real cats are certainly no more naturally aggressive than humans either. But those aren't very good attributes to give your villain now, are they?
    • How cats hunt and how they fight are significantly different. Cat fights are full of threat displays, both visual and audible, with sudden all-out attacks. And the 'modern' kzinti themselves are the result of a deliberate breeding program conducted by the Black Priests to create larger and more warlike males and eliminate intelligence from females.
  • Andre Norton: the Salariki, who progress with astonishing rapidity from being primitive Proud Warrior Race Guys (Plague Ship) to sophisticated members of the interstellar community (Android at Arms).
  • The Klees of Eelong in The Pendragon Adventure are giant, bipedal cats, and the dominant species in that world.
  • A. E. Van Vogt's Voyage Of The Space Beagle had a cat-like alien called Coeurl.
  • The tigers in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers. They're just intelligent tigers who have Bizarre Alien Biology, lay eggs, and have two opposable thumbs on each paw.
  • Aslan in the Narnia series is the God/Jesus figure.
  • The Sphinx race in Sergey Lukyanenko's Today, Mom! is a race of feline humanoids living on Venus. In the Film of the Book Asiris Nuna, they look mostly human with slight facial features reminiscent of cats and dreads. Their dress and architecture are reminiscent of Ancient Egypt. Shidla is a Sphinx who figures the most in the book and is the only one seen in the film. He snarls a lot and likes to call everyone "kitty". "Dog" is, apparently, an insult to his people. Like cats, they can see in the dark very well. In the film, Shidla dodges missiles Neo-style.
  • Andre Norton's The People in "A Breed to Come" were a race of sapient cats descended from modern Earth cats
  • The Toralii in Lacuna are basically this, with a side order of Proud Warrior Race.
  • The Togorians of Star Wars.
  • Robert Westall's Urn Burial has the Fefethil; a race of anthro-cats who look like humanoid cheetahs, complete with cat-ears, tails and eyes but human-esque hands and fingers (albeit with retractable claws still).
  • A major focus of Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series is on the Lemurians, anthropomorphic cat-monkeys.
    • The Lemurians are first called cat-monkeys and monkey-cats (depending who you asked aboard the ship) before the term 'Cat is agreed upon as the appropriate diminutive.
    • This species resembles cats so much that in the fifth book, Rising Tides, humans in the Isles of New Britain, where Hawaii should be, treat them as felines, men showing disdain on the whole, and women lovingly cooing and stroking their fur—which embarrasses the Lemurians no end.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • One of the factions in Alkemy is the Khaliman Republic, a middle-eastern-style nation... populated entirely by anthropomorphic cat people.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Catfolk, a nomadic Beast Man species reminiscent of lions, found in the Races of the Wild rule book.
    • Wemic, nomadic leonine centauroids. Wemics are excellent hunters and fighters. They do not make settled homes, but generally follow the herds they hunt for food, in the manner of a lion pride.
    • The Rakasta from the Mystara are another anthropomorphic cat-people in D&D, the most known subrace resembling domestic cats with very un-domestic personalities.
      • A Dragon magazine article featured a vast array of rakasta subraces, from alley cats to ocelots and lions to smilodons.
    • As of Bestiary 3, Pathfinder has both standard catfolk and maftets, a race descended from Sphinxes.
    • The tabaxi are a race of leopard people who live in tropical jungles.
    • The Forgotten Realms Spin-Off setting Maztica featured a race of jaguar people also called tabaxi; it explained that the name of the leopard-tabaxi from the Realms was pronounced "ta-bax-ee" while that of the Maztican jaguar-tabaxi was pronounced "ta-bash-ee". However, no justification was given to how two different species of cat-people on opposite ends of the world could have essentially the same name.
    • The Guardinals in Planescape are a race of upper-planar creatures of Incorruptible Pure Pureness who took on the forms of anthropomorphic animals. Their leaders were Leonals - humanoid lions.
      • Pathfinder expanded the race, gave it a new name, and made their leaders draconian creatures, but kept the leonals.
    • 4th Edition's Player Handbook 2 includes the decidedly feline-looking Razorclaw Shifter, descended from Weretigers.
    • The Tibbit race, which are Small humanoids with cat ears and markings as if their skin were fur; they can also turn into a full cats in the manner of a Were Cat.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a number of cat races, including the cat warriors. However, they do not appear to be unified in any sort of fashion, even when they exist on the same plane.
    • The lion-like Leonin from the plane of Mirrodin, on the other hand, are considered a separate race from the leopard-, jaguar-, or tiger-like cat warriors of Dominaria (though cards that benefit cats work for both). Their ruler in the Mirrodin novels was Raksha Golden Cub.
  • The Starfire board game has the Khanate of Orion.
  • Star Fleet Battles: Lyrans (lynx) and The Kzinti.
  • The Traveller has the Aslan.
  • GURPS International Super Teams, the house campaign setting for super-hero roleplaying, includes the Meeranar, a race of bipedal felinoids and the first alien species with which Earth has diplomatic contact.

Theater[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Age of Wonders II has a cat-folk race called Tigrans.
  • Avernum has the Nephilim, a furry, feline race renowned for their sharp senses and ability to see in the dark.
  • BlazBlue has a few examples; The Kaka Clan are essentially an almost always female race of Cat Girls who wear hoods. There are also the Grimalkin, although the only ones we've seen are Jubei ( whose DNA the Kaka were genetically engineered from) and his daughter Prof. Kokenoe, who's half human (or a half-human-looking Witch Species anyway).
  • The Breath of Fire series has the Woren.
  • In Darkstalkers, Catwomen are a Catgirl style of Catfolk that are their own distinct race of semi-human monsters. One of their more prominent members, Felicia, is a playable character.
  • The Elder Scrolls has a very diverse race of cats called the Khajiit. Though there are quite a few Khajiit subraces, the ones to appear in the games falls under this trope, being bipedal, intelligent, and otherwise humanoid.
    • Played with by the Arena Khajiit, who, while, Khajiit, go so far from looking like felines that the only reason they fulfill the 'barely non-human' descriptor is that the lore describes them as looking like short wood elves.
  • In EverQuest, one of the playable races later on are the Vah Shir, a species of anthropomorphic big cats.
    • EverQuest II has the Kerrans, which physically resemble large humanoid felines. Their bodies are covered in fur with colors and patterns denoting their lineage.
  • The Ronso of Final Fantasy X are a race of muscular, anthropomorphic feline humanoids from the world of Spira.
  • The Mithra from Final Fantasy XI are a Little Bit Beastly race that also qualify for Catgirl.
  • Iron Realms has a tiger-like race.
  • The Last Remnant has the Sovani race: tall, four-armed bipeds with lots of cat-like features.
  • Master of Orion series has an entire empire of cat-people, the Mrrshan, which were known for being one of the most aggressive and militaristic races throughout the series.
  • The Quest for Glory series has the Katta, a race of cat-like humanoids. It also has the Liontaur people, which are basically lions shaped like centaurs. Rakeesh in Quest for Glory II, III, and V is a major friend and supporting character of the Hero. Finally, Quest for Glory III has the Leopardmen, a secretive tribe in the jungle.
  • Another Proud Warrior Race Guy example is Dantom, a tiger-person boss from Shining Force CD.
  • The Star Ocean series has the Fellpool race.
  • The Kilrathi, a species of feline bipeds, are the primary enemies in much of the Wing Commander series.
  • The Wizardry series, from Wizardry 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge has Felpurr - humanoid cats described as descended from house cats. Felpurr are known for having one of the best base stat lines in the game (high Intellect, Speed, Dexterity and Personality and fairly good resistances), reaching many elite professions with fewer attribute points than any other race, including Bard - one of the most useful classes early on. They qualify for thieves as easy as Hobbits, with much better prospects of class switching, and for Mage or Alchemist almost as easily as Faerie, though less desirable in such Squishy Wizard classes than in Magic Knight roles.[2]
  • World of Warcraft has the Tol'vir; a race of centaur-like beings with lion bodies and feline faces, crafted by the Titans from stone (and turned into flesh by the Old Gods).
  • In Fire Emblem, the Beast Laguz tribe are based on both variations of cats: the smaller, quicker ones are based on house cats, while the larger ones are based on wild cats.
  • Solatorobos Felineko are a race of Catfolk who follow several cat stereotypes, such as being fiercely independent, quite aggressive, moody, calculating, agile, and naturally skilled at magic. They come in several different breeds, from common house cats to tigers.
  • Star Wars The Old Republic the Cathar are a race of humanoid felines.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Drowtales, Ferals.
  • What looks like a tiger person turns up as a background character in Exiern's spoof of You All Meet in An Inn.
  • Tiger Keidran from Twokinds.
  • Order of the Stick: Tarquin's old adventuring party includes an as-yet-unnamed catfolk thief, seen several times in flashbacks.
  • Schlock Mercenary has the Uuplechan, mentioned here, drawn here and possibly earlier here (as seen on the newer page, the range of body sizes is considerable and feline Board Member may have a high seat). They like Cat in The Hat (but only good adaptations). Also they seem to be very territorial - outsiders can get citizenship, but when Toughs tried to join a rescue operation in their system, it turned out that not only this required a loophole, but some (particularly unwise) locals decided to attack them.
    • Feline Uplifted Animals so far didn't appear, however (unless the earlier example was actually that).

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Stallonians in the Monster World series by http://monstermaster13.deviantart.com/
  • The Chakat species, which are hermaphroditic felinoid taurs genetically engineered to be disease resistant and empathic. They are able to breed with all of the other taurs except Quange, which are horse-based. This is probably because chakats are the best of many species brought together, but none of the used species were equine. It also created a powerful maternal instinct that can manifest as a rage brought on by threatening to harm their children, which one xenophobic vixen discovered the painful way.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  1. Oh my!
  2. they have lower mana regeneration than high-magical races, lower Vitality than others and can use normal armor rather than "gossamer gown either way"