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Bakeneko and Nekomata

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Bakeneko (roughly "warped cat") is a term for cat youkai. When cats live for a long time (or die in a way that spawns a Vengeful Ghost) they are said to develop odd powers such as human speech, placing curses and animating corpses by jumping over them. In some depictions this transformation also causes them to increase in size and develop a taste for human flesh. When they assume human form, it tends to be cruder than kitsune and tanuki — less beautiful Shapeshifting Lover and more Crazy Cat Lady (often based on a real old woman they killed and replaced).

The most iconic type of bakeneko is the Nekomata ("forked cat"), cats who transform into youkai when their tail grows beyond a certain length and splits in two. In some depictions they can undergo this process multiple times, similar to kitsune — the vast majority of these cases have seven tails, a Shout-Out to a youkai said to have plagued the Nabeshima clan.

The Kasha ("fire wheel/chariot"), a Hellfire youkai which steals the corpses of sinners, is usually depicted as either an oni or a nekomata Wreathed in Flames. Possibly a Japanese equivalent of Hellhound.

The Maneki Neko ("beckoning cat") is a benevolent variety which has its own page.

Related to Cats Are Magic, Uplifted Animal, and Ghostly Animals. Subtrope of Multiple-Tailed Beast. Contrast with Cat Girl. See also Asian Lion Dogs for other feline-like creatures that are prevalent in East Asia.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blue Exorcist: Rin's familiar Kuro (Blacky) is a two-tailed Cait Sith, and can grow to become gigantic.
  • Cat God: Mayu and Sasana as well as their family are feline gods, which means they are cats with twin tails and various magical abilities, predominantly the power to appear almost completely human, save for some obvious give-aways.
  • Digimon: The X-Antibody version of Tailmon is two-tailed.
  • Dog Days: In Dash, Cat Girl Noire can fork her tail into stingers with the spell "Seven Tails", a Shout-Out to the Nabeshima myths.
  • In Fire Force, Tamaki's ability "Nekomata" gives her cat ears and two cat tails made of flame that makes her resemble a two-tailed Cat Girl.
  • A group of bakeneko appear in The Fox & Little Tanuki, operating as a sort of Yakuza for the youkai world. Their boss is a nekomata named Shirotabi.
  • Gegege No Kitaro has Nekomusume as one of the main characters, based on one of the Bakeneko's forms (specifically, the form of a young girl). Other cat-based Youkai also appear in the series. For example, in the 2018 series, Kasha appears as a cat-like demon with a fiery tail and a taste for human corpses, especially if spiced up by grief and pain.
  • High School D×D: Koneko Toujou and her older sister Kuroka are some of the last surviving "Nekoshou", a rare breed of Nekomata capable of using two types of Sage Arts: Senjutsu and Youjutsu. Riser Phenex's peerage also includes twin Nekomata named Ni and Li.
  • Hyper Police: Natsuki, the Cat Girl protagonist, is revealed to be a nekomata in a moment of anger (her tail splits in two)
  • Inuyasha has Kirara, Sango's loyal pet nekomata. She usually takes the form of a small two-tailed kitten, but she can transform into a massive feline beast and is also able to fly in that form. A later arc has a spectral Nekomata, along with an horde of smaller ones, haunting a Buddhist temple, who refers to Kirara as a mere kitten compared to him.
  • Kamichu!: One episode has a cat named Tyler who is leader of a "city of the cats" where all cats can walk upright and speak. Later, he is explicitly revealed to be a nekomata while tag-team wrestling.
  • Koi Neko: Several of the characters are cats with the supernatural ability to assume a human or Cat Girl form after falling in love with a human. One of the cat-girls is revealed to be over fifty years old but still look like a teenager, which taken in conjunction with the revelation that kami and Yōkai like kitsune exist leads the main character to surmise the transforming cats are bakeneko.
  • In Mokke, one episode centers around a nekomata.
  • Naruto:
    • The two-tailed demon-beast in Naruto is a two-tailed cat.
    • One of the Uchiha clan's outposts, the ruined city of Sora-ku, is managed by talking cats with basic ninja skills referred to as "ninneko". In the anime the ninneko also have a fortress ruled by a giant fork-tailed cat named Nekomata, who is capable of creating illusions.
  • Neko Musume Michikusa Nikki: Kurona is a bakeneko who can shapeshift between the form of a black cat, a human girl, and an intermediary Cat Girl form.
  • Omamori Himari: The titular Himari is a shapeshifting cat yokai.
  • In Persona 5: The Animation, Ryuji accuses Morgana of being a bakeneko when they first meet, even as Morgana insists he's a human suffering from Forced Transformation.
  • Maomaolin from Ranma ˝ is a giant bakeneko from China who's obsessed with finding a human wife.
  • Shaman King: Matamune is the spirit of a cat which developed human-like intelligence and powerful magical abilities, most prominently taking on a semi-humanoid form and developing twin tails, making him obviously based on a nekomata.
  • Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure has Bakenyan, a butler who serves the cyclopean villain Aiwarn. He is eventually revealed to be Blue Cat, a Phantom Thief from the very same planet Aiwarn destroyed, spying on her to gain information.
  • Tokimeki ★ Mononoke Jogakkou: Kiri is a nekomata Cat Girl who becomes the love interest of the human protagonist Arare when she's trapped in the yokai world.
  • Tsukipro The Animation 2' features the franchise's Tsukino Hyakki Yakou youkai AU, where Sora is a nekomata, though the AU gets a much more involved treatment in the stage plays.
  • Tora of Ushio and Tora is a mostly humanoid youkai named for his tiger-like appearance. A Gaiden story explaining how Ushio's parents got together features a vicious Nekomata haunting a family (the works they started to renew their house accidentally destroyed the shrine where he was sealed) trying to devour their daughter. The climax reveals that there's two of them, but Shigure and Sumako are skilled enough to slay them both.
  • Yokai Girls: Nia Suzunari is an Ambiguously Gay tsundere nekomata whose human form is a teenage girl who was once her owner and was killed by burglars.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: In one episode, what happened between Jibanyan's death and meeting Nate is delved into more. It turns out that there are hundeds of nekomata around Springdale because there is a crosswalk that kills a lot of cats. Jibanyan comes across three in particular: Sir Pouncalot, Pounce de Leon, and Alfred. Sir Pouncalot has four tails, Pounce de Leon has three tails, and Alfred is a keet with only one tail.

    Comic Books 
  • It's established in Monstress that all cats - who in this comic are powerfully magical, capable of speech, and have their own society and culture - are born with a single tail and grow more as they age and gain power and experience. Master Ren has two, while Esteemed Professor Tam Tam in the Encyclopedia Exposita pages has four.

  • In There's More Magic Out There, Tomoe and Kagami Tsurugi are both Nekomatas. Tomoe was originally the guardian spirit of the Tsurugi family until she killed Kagami's father for trying to rape her, then gave birth to Kagami and took over the company. As Nekomata, Kagami can turn into a small cat form, can see the dead, and peer slightly into other souls. In an inverse of Nekomata using their human forms to trick humans, Kagami uses her cat form to get close to Marinette.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the the Surreal Horror film Hausu, one of the main characters befriends a beautiful, long-haired white cat that climbs in through her bedroom window named Shiro (or Blanche in the English subtitles). She brings the cat along on a summer break trip with her friends, who comment, "any cat can open a door, but only a witch cat (bakeneko) can close one." And this cat proves fully capable of closing doors. The cat is a part of a composite haunting which also involves a Vengeful Ghost that targets unmarried girls and the titular house itself.

  • Eight Million Gods: The mother of one of the main characters is one.
  • The Garden of Sinners: One of the forms of the thing inside Touko's briefcase is a malevolent, magical cat with two tails.
  • In Highschool Dx D, nekomata are a mostly female race with the ability to take Cat Girl form.
    • The orphan sisters Shirone and Kuroka are the last known members of the Nekoshou, a clan with both powerful Youkai abilities and great aptitude for Ki Manipulation. However, after Kuroka seemingly goes mad and kills their adoptive parents, a frightened Shirone seals away her own powers and emotions, assuming a fully human appearance as "Koneko Toujou". When she resumes using her Cat Girl form post-Character Development, it initially has one tail but after Training from Hell she increases it to two and later three. Kasha are also referenced as the name of one of Shirone and Kuroka's shared techniques, which summons rings of Technicolor Fire that follow the user's movements. With sufficient skill the flames can also be imbued with purifying properties, making them lethal to The Undead.
    • Riser Phenex's peerage includes twin nekomata named Ni and Li.
    • The chief of the nekomata, Magari, is The One Guy and appears as a non-humanoid cat with seven tails.

    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: Nekomatas are malevolent, panther-sized two-tailed cats with magical powers: chiefly, they can flawlessly mimic the appearance of a human they successfully damage with their bite attack and can animate and control undead creatures. As in myth, they're created when a regular housecat somehow lives to one hundred years of age.


    Video Games 
  • Ayakashi: Romance Reborn: Nachi, who was the heroine's cat. She called him "Tama" before he revealed his humanoid form, and told her what his real name was.
  • BlazBlue: Jubei and his daughter Kokonoe (a Cat Girl version of this). Appropriately, the latter does bring people back from the dead, although since magic is commonplace in that world she uses science to keep the mysterious powers theme. The first person she did this for was Iron Tager, who she brought back as a Half-Oni Cyborg. The second person she brought back was Hakumen, who she salvaged from The Boundary, the space between life and death, after he had been sealed there about a century prior. The third person brought back was Lambda-11 who, being a Robot Girl, she just needed to repair, reinstall and infuse with a soul, so she technically brought back two people for the price of one. The final person Kokonoe brought back was her aunt, Celica Ayatsuki Mercury, who Kokonoe saw fit to bring back as a Chrono Phantasma. Hakumen contemptuously calls both Jubei and Kokonoe "bakeneko" (monster/ghost cat), which in Japanese mythology is a general term for any cat Youkai. The video games translated this word as "grimalkin" in an attempt at a Cultural Translation (which failed, since "grimalkin" is about as obscure as "bakeneko" to an American audience). Official subtitles for BlazBlue: Alter Memory use "Goblin Cat" instead (which is more accurate and conveys Hakumen's insulting tone).
  • Bleach: Brave Souls: The Panther Arrancar Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez's "Beyond Resurrección" form — showing what he would look like if he merged with the Hōgyoku — gives him two fiery feline tails.
  • The nekomimi in Coffee Talk seem to be based on the bakeneko, as a race that can shift between average looking cats and people with cat ears.
  • Boo Party features one as one of the monster girls you can take naked pictures of. Simone is said to be a bakeneko, even if there's nothing "Japanese" about her and she's more like a standard Little Bit Beastly Cat Girl for all intents and purposes.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • The Bakeneko are the subject of a conversation between V and Takemura after the two come across a sphinx cat during a stakeout. Since cats — or animals in general — are extremely rare in Night City, Takemura wonders if the cat is a Bakeneko while giving a short breakdown of the trope. Notably, it is left unclear if the cat was actually a Bakeneko. However, during its brief appearance, it sticks conspicuously close to the spots where Johnny manifests in V's vision.
    • Reinforcing the Bakeneko connection, a sphinx cat will occasionally appear in the background shots of pivotal moments. V can also adopt a sphinx cat shortly after they find out that they are dying.
    • Nekomata is also referenced in the game in the form of the name of a sniper rifle.
  • Disgaea: Nekomatas are found in the games and are used in quick leveling tricks in the first and second ones. They are more Cat Girls, however. They are capable of producing offspring with humans, as Rutile is half nekomata.
  • The first stage of Flash of the Blade have a huge Bakaneko attacking you as you're in a haunted inn, by smashing its paws through the ceiling to crush you via Giant Foot of Stomping.
  • Genshin Impact: Kirara is of the nekomata race, with two tails, green eyes with slitted pupils, and cushioned, furry paws for feet. She works as a courier for a delivery service.
  • In Ghostwire: Tokyo the nekomata are among the friendly youkai, selling healing items and ammunition to Akito, the player character. Some even offer special items in exchange for collectables.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5'', Kai is the spirit of a cat statue in service to Amami, who normally appears as a young albino girl but can transform into a monstrous seven-tailed white cat.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: Polterkitty has multiple tails, is a shapeshifting ghost cat, and even has traditional Japanese music as her Leitmotif. Taking her down involves pulling off her tails, and the second time she's encountered, the last one allows Luigi to fully vacuum her up.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Miike, the protagonist of the Muramasa: Rebirth DLC "Fishy Tales of the Nekomata", is a nekomata who can transform into a two-tailed cat, a Cat Girl, a gigantic, monstrous two-tailed cat, and a floating head made up of cats.
  • Nioh: Nekomata is Hanzo's Guardian Spirit, appearing as a white cat with an eyepatch and wearing weapons, and is one of the few who regularly talk to William and bears the element of Thunder. He performs a Heroic Sacrifice to absorb the huge amount of demonic energy pouring out of Mount Hiei, revealing himself to be Byakko, and forcing William to defeat him. The ending reveals that he returned from the dead. The second game has the hero fighting a Kasha, depicted as a buxom, kimono-clad Cat Girl who's Wreathed in Flames and riding the wheels of a chariot embedded with Amrita while wielding a flail made of a leg, spine and skull.
  • Neko Atsume: Saint Purrtrick is one of these, hence his two tails and "Ethereal" description. His Japanese name is even "Nekomata-san".
  • Persona: Nekomata is a recurring mid-level enemy and mon, represented in most games as a two-tailed Cat Girl with extremely long claws.
  • Pokémon: Espeon and Meowstic are Psychic-types based off of this legend. Espeon is the one most tied to the original myth (with a bit of kitsune mixed in), down to the forked tail.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: While lacking the signature second tail, Blaze the Cat has more in common with the Kasha, being able to manipulate fire and often wreathing herself in it when attacking.
  • Touhou Project: Chen, the shikigami of Ran Yakumo, and Rin "Orin" Kaenbyou, The Traffic Accident from Hell, are both two-tailed cats. Orin, though, is actually a Kasha.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, Misae's cat is actually a nekomata that was sent by its deceased former master to pay back a debt of gratitude to Misae, who cheered him up when she met him at the hospital years ago.

  • Mieruko-chan: Miko decides to adopt a stray cat out to a heavily tattooed man with the Face of a Thug when she sees two friendly nekomata spirits invisibly accompanying him, which indicates that he's been a truly devoted companion to cats before. An epilogue confirms that he's a Kind Hearted Cat Lover.

    Web Original 
  • Monster Girl Encyclopedia: Compared to other werecats, the Nekomatas are rather tame and even give up on a man should he refuse her advances. They are still monsters, though, and will eventually assault their prey to take his spirit energy. Unlike in the myth, Nekomata in this series are this way since birth. And since this world is filled with Cute Monster Girls, her forms are inverted, with the human form being the true one.
  • hololive GAMERS has Nekomata Okayu, who is said to have originally been a cat before becoming a Cat Girl. She is generally nice when she isn't playing pranks or Filching Food for Fun. Despite her name, she only has one tail.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nekomata



A ghost cat with three tails and traditional Japanese music playing.

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Main / BakenekoAndNekomata

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