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Catlike Dragons

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"I thought a dragon would be like a cat in some ways, that same sort of self-satisfied attitude."

Dragons are one of those fantasy creatures with numerous variations, depending on the era, culture, and creator. They're usually reptilian but may also have bird-like feathers or even some mammal traits. But one thing that shows up more often than you'd expect it to is dragons that look and act like cats.

In some cases, this is rather subtle, with simple allusions to the eyes and the feet being vaguely feline, or references to the traditional arrogance assigned to felines or to how cats toy with their prey. Other times, though, it can be much more blatant, resulting in dragons that literally look and act like cats. This isn't a new phenomenon; in fact, it's been argued that the original inspiration for dragon myths around the world was a hybrid of the various predators faced by early humans, including large cats.

Both European and Asian dragons have incorporated various cat motifs in the past, though in different ways. The Chinese dragon is said to be a combination of various animals, one of which is the tiger, and they are often drawn with feline-looking claws, whiskers, and noses. European dragons tend to be more outwardly reptilian, but their movements and the shape of their eyes are often described as cat-like.

More recent writers, though, are likely to play up the cuteness of the dragon's feline aspects rather than the fierceness. If Reptiles Are Abhorrent, then it helps for a sympathetic dragon character to have some recognizable mammalian features. Villainous dragons who are described as cat-like usually emphasize their vicious and savage aspects.

A Shoulder-Sized Dragon or Delightful Dragon will very often act like a lizard/housecat combination. Contrast with All Animals Are Dogs, as dragons are often the exception to this rule, and Werewolves Are Dogs, for a similar trope to the previously mentioned about another mythical creature behaving like a dog. See also Feathered Dragons, for another portrayal of dragons with the characteristics of non-reptile animals.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon: Holydramon/Magnadramon is a dragon Digimon that combines an Asian dragon's serpentine body with a very lion-like head. It's also furry instead of scaly. Not coincidentally, it evolves from Tailmon, a cat Digimon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the monster cards "Tiger Dragon" and "Baby Tiragon", which are exactly as they sound: tiger/dragon hybrids.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Nekorus are a species of dragons with catlike features (or cats with draconic features) native to the continent of Jamuraa, in the world of Dominaria. The only nekoru to receive a card, Wasitora, resembles a stout-bodied panther with dragon wings, and is typed as both a Cat and a Dragon. Their name is a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "cat" and "dragon".
    • In its flavor text, the original Shivan Dragon is described as "often tormenting its victims much like a cat plays with a mouse".
    • Even though they don't officially have the Cat creature type, the dragons of the Indian-themed steampunk-inspired plane of Kaladesh, Skyship Stalker and Freejam Regent, have tiger-like facial features, black stripes on orange-red scales and tiger-like claws on the ends of their vaguely feline limbs.

    Comic Books 
  • Smax has the dragon named Morningbright, who has seven eyes and can shapeshift, but his default form has a cat-shaped face, a cat's nose and feline paws.

    Fan Works 
  • Godzilla fanfiction Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Several of the reptilian Titans.
    • Manda, who's an infant throughout the fic, behaves for all the world like an energetic and curious kitten.
    • San, who was formerly the left head of Ghidorah, purrs in a catlike manner when he's feeling affectionate or is just trying to calm his sister half Vivienne down.
    • Godzilla does the same as San, and Vivienne even compares it to a cat purring to its kittens.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover Child of the Storm: The Elder Wyrm's attitude towards the main characters is explicitly compared to a cat toying with a wounded mouse.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami's first dragon says it's being affectionate like a cat in one scene.

    Films — Animation 
  • Coco: Pepita the alebrije is a jaguar-like feline with ram's horns in general appearance, but she can fly. She has wings, hind legs, hind feet, a tail (like an iguana), and a scaly coloration that appear reptilian and/or avian. Her form in the Land of The Living is an outright housecat.
  • The Hobbit: In the Rankin/Bass adaptation, Smaug is depicted as very mammalian, with a distinctly catlike face sporting a short muzzle, prominent triangular ears, bushy cheek fur and slit-pupiled feline eyes.
  • How to Train Your Dragon has dragons engaging in catlike behaviors such as chasing spots of reflected light and rolling around in catnip-like grass.
    • Toothless, in particular, shows a lot of cat-based behavior — rolling on his belly to get it scratched, showing affection by licking, eating fish, circling in place before bedding down to sleep, folding his ears back when he is upset, chasing shiny objects, etc. His green eyes and general body shape are also quite cat-like. In fact, Toothless's dark coloration was inspired by black panthers and actually was motion captured for some shots using a real cat.
    • The Terrible Terrors, a species of Shoulder-Sized Dragon incidentally around the size of a cat, purr when happy or pleased.
  • The Sea Beast has a sea serpent edition. The Red Bluster is a mosaic of many sea creatures, but the head and especially the mannerisms are all extremely cat-like.
  • The Secret of NIMH: Dragon is an inversion: he's a house cat who is named Dragon and looks like a dragon-like monster from his prey's point of view.
  • Onward: Blazey, the pet dragon, inverts this trope by being a dragon who clearly acts like a dog.
  • Spirited Away: Haku's dragon form is very feline, with a furry body and face, pointed ears, long whiskers and a pink nose. Partially subverted in that he has a long snout and Hayao Miyazaki has stated in an interview that they used dogs as reference for Haku in some scenes. Particularly, dogs' mouths when Chihiro is trying to feed him the medicine.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: The Dorats are small, cute creatures with kitten-like faces. After being exposed to radiation, they mutate into King Ghidorah himself.
  • Inheritance Cycle: In an interview, Christopher Paolini described how he imagined that "a dragon would be like a cat in some ways, that same sort of self-satisfied attitude." This is carried over into the film adaptation of Eragon, in which Saphira's movements on the ground are modeled on those of large cats.
  • The NeverEnding Story: Inverted, in the movie, with Falkor the Luckdragon, who has a dog-like appearance.
  • Pete's Dragon (2016): Elliott has both physical and behavioral traits of cats.
  • Upside-Down Magic: Inept Mage Nory can only turn into Mix-and-Match Critters instead of real, ordinary animals. Most of her forms have some cat component; one is a cat with dragon wings which she later names a "dritten".

  • Played With in The Beginning After the End. While her true form is that of a black Feathered Dragon, Sylvie usually appears in the guise of a cat-sized furry creature. She assumes this form to follow around Arthur without exposing her true form. As such, she is a dragon who usually assumes a cat-like form via shapeshifting, and in that form she does exhibit some cat-like behaviors such as scratching people who disturb her sleep or jumping into the arms of people she trusts.
  • "The Dragon Tamers", by E. Nesbit, features an armor-plated dragon that is, throughout the story, described as acting in very cat-like ways — he purrs, meows, and greatly enjoys eating bread and milk. At the end, his armor falls off and he becomes the world's first cat. The story ends by noting how people should make sure that cats stay tame and fond of drinking milk — if they should become too wild and fond of hunting they might start growing bigger and scalier and fiercer, grow their wings back, and return to being dragons.
  • Harry Potter: The Chinese Fireball dragon — which is loosely based upon the mythical Chinese long — is alternately known as the "lion-dragon" and sports a lion-like visage complete with a mane of spikes around its neck and a short, cat-like snout.
  • Many amateur "How to Draw Fantasy Creatures" books advise would-be artists to use feline aspects when drawing dragons, especially in features such as the eyes and the skull shape.
  • Kroniki Drugiego Kręgu: Dragons hate water (well, most of them — one hatchling is determined to learn how to swim, weirding her family out), are exclusively carnivorous, and are playful when young. Of course, they're also sapient shapeshifters who fly and have magic.
  • The Last Kids On Earth: In June's standalone book, she encounters a baby winged wretch (a species of basically wolf sized dragons). She describes it as definitely not being evil like the rest of its kind, but acting more like a curious kitten or puppy.
  • The Neverending Story: Falkor the Luckdragon has the serpentine, wingless body of a traditional Chinese dragon and a maned, lion-like head. The film adaptation, by contrast, portrays him with much more canine features.
  • Temeraire: Temeraire's habit of washing himself with water after his meals takes other dragons' captains by surprise, since, as one of them puts it, dragons normally "lick their claws and chops clean, like a cat", and are known to hiss when they're younger and smaller. Temeraire himself is also likened to a cat in the narrative when he's mere days out of the shell and small enough to be carried — he preens himself of the slime from the egg just after hatching (determinedly ignoring the midshipman who had initially been set to harness him in a manner familiar to many a cat owner), examines and bats at interesting things on the ship, naps a lot (although this is characteristic of most hatchlings), and needs to be "groomed and petted back into temper, like an affronted cat" when he gets himself tangled in a hammock.
  • The Witcher: In Sword of Destiny, the dragon Villentretenmerth is described as having something graceful and feline about the way he sits.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The classic Chinese dragon, or long, was said to be a composite of various animals, one of which was the tiger.
  • Another mythical dragon, the French Tarasque, is also said to have the head of a lion.
  • The tatzelwurm is sometimes described as having the head and limbs of a cat.
  • It's possible that this may be Older Than Dirt. Anthropologist David E. Jones has suggested that dragon myths are simply an amalgamation of the most dangerous predators faced by human ancestors — snakes, crocodiles, birds of prey, and large cats.

  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers: Gino, Lina's shiny Salamence, was raised by catmons, and as a result displays a lot of catlike behavior, including a tendency to end sentences with "nya~".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In general terms, dragons tend to be described as resembling felines much more strongly than their reptilian outward appearance would suggest. Their eyes are built much like those of cats, and their skeletons, limbs, musculature and walking gait are also much like those of large cats.
    • In post-3rd edition art, gold dragons tend to be drawn with distinct references to felines in the anatomy of their legs, torsos and heads.
    • Dragonnes (sometimes called Liondrakes) are chimeric creatures with features of lions and brass dragons. Depending on the edition, their appearance can vary between that of a dragon with a leonine head to that of a scaly lion with dragon wings.
    • Pseudodragons look like regular dragons, only tiny, but they've always been described as having catlike personalities, being playful and curious but slightly arrogant.
    • Li lungs, a type of oriental dragons, resemble immense lions with wings and dragon heads.
    • Forgotten Realms
      • Steel dragons are typically described as having catlike bodies or as moving with feline grace.
      • 1st Edition AD&D boxed set.
      • "Cyclopedia of the Realms": During a Flight of Dragons (mass dragon attack on civilized territory), Zhentil Keep was seriously damaged by a number of dragons who "raged through the streets like great scaled cats, ere they were slain".
      • "DM's Sourcebook of the Realms": Forgotten Realms dragons "have a feline quickness that belies their reptilian origin." They can make twice as many melee attacks (clawing and biting) as normal AD&D dragons.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Dragonnes are a type of magical beast resembling a hybrid of a brass dragon and a lion, with a generally leonine body shape with a dragon's scales, wings, tail and horns.
    • In Dragons Revsited, white dragon mating rituals are described as reminiscent of young cats play-fighting — claws shown but not used, a lot of hissing and rolling around, and ultimately no clear winner.
  • Sorcerously Advanced: The Fire and Scale Society is for people who assume draconic or feline forms. As it turns out, dragons and cats get along extremely well, and share a Core Value of Hedonism and a magical style focused around being lazy.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Among the different draconian mounts of the Stormcast Eternals are Dracolines, a draconic species that exhibits several traits of predatory cats such as sharpening their claws with magical lightning. Within the Stormcast Eternals themselves, Dracolines are most often ridden by warriors of the Sacrosanct Chamber for their speed and ferocity.
  • World Tree (RPG): The behavior of Zi Ri — small, feathered dragons — is often described in feline terms, particularly concerning their intense sense of self-worth, their love of hunting, their love of cuddling and attention, and their tendency to purr when happy. It's no accident that they're one of the few species that can consistently get along well with the panther-like Sleeth.

  • Transformers: Sky Lynx is a unique example. His vehicle mode is a space shuttle, but he has two separate robot modes, and can separate into two pieces so he can use both at once. One of them is a dragon/dino-bird while the other was a gigantic cat, giving Sky Lynx the best of both worlds when it comes to this trope.

    Video Games 
  • The Battle Cats have a bunch of obtainable Cats that look like dragons, or are literally ones.
  • Cookie Clicker: Subverted with Krumblor the Cookie Dragon. One upgrade allows you to click on your dragon to "pet" it. The flavor text for the "Pet the dragon" upgrade states that dragons do not purr, and that if your dragon starts purring, you need to vacate the area immediately.
  • Dragalia Lost: Liger, Ebisu, and Cat Sith fit this trope to a T. Liger has some feline-like features and mannerisms (such as purring), but the latter two straight up look like anthropomorphic cats!
  • Dragon City: The literal Cat Dragon, the Two-Colored Dragon and the Cheshire Cat Dragon all resemble cats with horns and dragon wings. The Catkun Dragon is a more anthropomorphic panther with draconic wings.
  • Dragon Creek: One dragon species resembles a giant, elongated cat.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Khajiit believe that Akatosh, the god of time and progenitor of the dragons, is Alkosh, Dragon King of Cats. He is usually depicted as a dragon with feline features. The Khajiit describe him as "a real big cat", and a Khajiit character likens dragons to kittens at one point — as he puts it, what could be more destructive than a young cat?
    • The Ka Po' Tun are an Akaviri race of "tiger-folk" who highly revere dragons, and it's stated that a racial goal of theirs is to become dragons. They are said to be led by a God-Emperor named Tosh-Raka, the only one of their race to succeed in this goal. He has become the largest dragon on Nirn and is covered with orange and black scales. (Other sources claim this story to be metaphorical at best.)
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • The great wyrm Hraesvelgr is combination of this and Feathered Dragon. He has a much more mammalian appearance than any other dragon encountered, with a carnivoran face and a mane of feathers or fur extending down the length of his body. This stands in particular contrast to his brother Nidhogg, who is much more reptilian or demonic looking, with both of them being major players in the Heavensward expansion.
    • The coeurl dragons. Dragons are established to have a form of Adaptive Ability that allows them to "evolve" indepently over the course of their long lives to better suit their environment. The rare coeurl dragons are one of the most divergent of such adaptations, shedding their wings in favor of becoming apex land-based predators, and named for the monstrous cats they seemingly based their form and Shock and Awe abilities on.
  • Flight Rising has the Obelisk, which is based off of Chinese Guardian Lions and Pixiu. There is also the Coatl, the hatchlings of which look like a cross between a kitten and a baby snake.
  • Freedom Planet: Sash Lilac is officially a half-Chinese dragon, but her mammalian-looking black nose, full body fur, and stubby triangular horns that resemble pointy ears make her look more like a cat than a dragon. She was redesigned in Freedom Planet 2 in which her horns are more clearly defined as horns, though the result is that she doesn't really look like any animal in particular.
  • Lunar: Young dragons look almost exactly like winged cats, and indeed two such dragons are mistaken for "regular" winged cats despite their insistences to the contrary. Dragons come to resemble the traditional serpentine beasts as they mature, but still retain mammalian features like extensive fur covering, though red dragons never fully lose their catlike traits even as they grow.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter 2 (dos) introduces the Elder Dragons Teostra and Lunastra, which resemble fire-breathing lions with scales and dragon wings.
    • Monster Hunter Freedom 2:
      • Downplayed in the case of Tigrex, which bears tiger-like stripes and similar body shape to Nargacuga and Barioth, but is otherwise much more reptilian with no fur and a tyrannosaur-esque head. Its name is also quite literally a portmanteau of "tiger" and "T-rex".
      • Nargacuga, introduced in the Updated Re-release Freedom Unite, not only has cat-like features (fur, head and facial features, and claws on its forelimbs), but also catlike fighting styles. Nargacuga, specifically, is based on a black panther.
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) introduces Barioth, a Flying Wyvern that is based on the extinct smilodons, complete with gold/amber-colored saber teeth. It mobility during battle, as in the case of Nargacuge, is also feline-like.
    • Monster Hunter: World: Xeno'jiiva, the final boss, has a pretty cat-like appearance, from the pointed ears to the "whiskers" on the sides of its face.
    • Monster Hunter: Rise: Magnamalo resembles a cross between a tiger and an Eastern dragon clad in samurai armor.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet:
    • The Legendary Dragon-type Pokémon, Koraidon and Miraidon (especially the former), exhibit very cat-like mannerisms, especially in the way they run and curl up to sleep. Koraidon's cry even sounds like a cat purring.
    • Three of Koraidon's fellow Ancient Paradox Pokémon — Walking Wake, Gouging Fire, and Raging Bolt — resemble Johto's cat-like Legendary Beasts (Suicune, Entei and Raikou respectively) crossed with various dinosaurs, and are part Dragon-type.
  • Monster Sanctuary: Skorch is classified as a dragon, but it looks like a cat made from molten wax.
  • Spyro the Dragon: In various games, the titular Spyro has some cattish elements to him. For example, one of his Idle Animations has him cleaning himself like a cat.
  • World of Warcraft: Dragons have the same walking/running animation cycle as cats.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures has Damian's pet "dragon-bat" Goliath, who looks like a giant winged cat. He even makes cat-like "Mowr!" noises.
  • Debugging Destiny has Ignacia. The Rant mentions large, extinct monitor lizards as one of her inspirations, but also that her tail flicking back and forth is deliberately cat-like.
  • Firefly Cross: The dragon Chaerius is most often seen shapeshifted as a black cat.
  • Realta: The dragon acts like a typical kaiju - until she finally retrieves her egg. Then she starts purring.

    Web Original 
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: In Trope Talk: Dragons, when discussing portrayals of dragons as Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, Red mentions that the most common way of doing this with animalistic dragons is to essentially make them cats. Dragons-as-cats are not evil, but they are temperamental, asocial and difficult to read, and a cat scaled up a couple hundred times and given the ability to breathe fire can cause a lot of damage as it looks for a new scratching post. Since people also like cats, this makes it easier for the audience to like the dragons as well.
  • Reversal of the Heart: Dragons make cat noises.
  • Subeta has several dragonesque pets, but the Paralix probably conforms to this trope best, having catlike paws (albeit without visible pads), whiskers, and a full coat of fur.

    Western Animation 
  • Dragon Hunters: In "The Cure", the subterranean-dwelling Dungeon Dragons are remarkably cat-like. This is especially evident when their only egg hatches, resulting in a litter of dragon babies which resemble and sounds like adorable kittens.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: As mentioned in the Film section, the various dragons often display cat-like mannerisms.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983): Tiamat the queen of dragons has five heads. The primary head, like Smaug from The Hobbit (1977) mentioned above, has feline features such as bushy fur on her cheeks, triangular ears, and slitted cat-like eyes.
  • In Tricky, a CITV Saturday Morning show, the titular character has a pet cat dragon called Purrdy.
  • Tales of Arcadia takes this to an extreme with Archibald, a shapeshifting dragon who spends most of his time as a black cat. His true form is similar in size and doesn’t change much aside from adding wings and fire breath. His father also has fur and some catlike features, but he’s much larger and more visibly draconic.