[[quoteright:250:[[Manga/TokyoMewMew http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cutecatgirl_720.jpg]]]]

The Catgirl is sterotypically female, perhaps because of the FelineFemale association, or perhaps because MostWritersAreMale. Many fans appreciate catgirls because they’re cute and they suggest softness, cuddliness, aloofness and hidden claws. The combination of feline and female seems to resonate strongly in the collective muse and shows up in many forms, ranging from the "10,000 horsepower innocent" cyborg Nuku-Nuku (from ''Anime/AllPurposeCulturalCatGirlNukuNuku'') all the way up to the devastatingly sexy criminals such as Ana and Una Puma from ''Anime/DominionTankPolice'' and ComicBook/{{Catwoman}}.

Expect a Western feline-themed character to be portrayed as [[FemmeFatale especially sexy and especially dangerous,]] with FemmeFatalons and agility second only to Franchise/{{Spider Man}}. The CatSuit is usually the outfit of choice. CuteLittleFangs are sometimes present but seldom used in a cute manner. Claws, whether natural or in the form of clawed gloves, tend to be particularly popular.

The Japanese (or at least manga and anime creators and fans) seem to have a particular fascination with catgirls, which they call ''{{Nekomimi}}'', which translates to literally "cat-eared". They are found in genres as widely varied as HighFantasy (Merle and others in ''Anime/TheVisionOfEscaflowne''), light comedy and CyberPunk, proving that they are not a setting-specific feature, but a general type that can be inserted into just about anything. The catgirl motif in Japan seems to have roots in ancient myth with mythological felines such as the nekomata and bakeneko, but the first true catgirl (and thus the trope) appears to have been created by Creator/OsamuTezuka in the 1950s.

In Japan the catgirl is closely associated with {{Moe}}. It is noteworthy that the most common method of drawing anime characters, particularly females, tends to give them catlike features (large eyes with elliptical pupils, a small mouth and a skull shaped much like that of a young human child) - and that cats are ''extremely'' anthropomorphic for non-primates in the first place. Given this, the catgirl is possibly nothing more than the logical conclusion of this. Anime catgirls usually have CuteLittleFangs and a tendency to use a CatSmile when happy. They often have a GenkiGirl personality. Anime characters which are not actually catgirls often show up ''as'' catgirls in the fantasies of other characters. Collars often make a prominent appearance in such cases. In a less suggestive context, playful female characters often have catgirl avatars in CyberSpace sequences.

However, it is worth noting that this trope is primarily about appearance, not gender, and that male examples of characters with real or fake cat ears are by no means unheard of. In the early decades of anime there were few dog and cat-boy characters because there was largely no place for them in anime. They had no role to serve and no audience to appeal to. In the 2000s, the evolving characteristics of anime and anime viewers has created more of a demand for catboys, particularly in media targeted at a female audience. They tend to be either {{Keet}}s or [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys bad boys]], and are actually ''more'' likely to wear collars than their female counterparts - especially in FanArt.
Please read the [[{{cat girl}} unabridged version]], meow!