Cats in folklore: Bakeneko and Nekomata

We are cat lovers who are crazy about fur babies. However, we should know that there were once adorable kitties are feared as wicked monsters. Japanese people adore Maneki Neko as a symbol of luck and happiness that does not mean they love all about cats. People in Japan told the mythological fearful cat demons from generation to generation. Now I am going to tell the very interesting horror myth about Bakeneko and Nekomata of ancient Japan.


Bakeneko is the type of Yokai which is also called the Monster cat. As Yokai are vengeful spirits, these Bakeneko are very malevolent. The legend says when the normal house cat becomes old and gets a certain age, it will walk like a human by hind legs and can speak the human language. These transformed monster cats believed to have supernatural powers. They can manipulate fire and summon diseases, bad luck, illness, and death. Bakeneko can grow to human size and can shape-shift into any human.

When owners or other people get into trouble with their mischieving, they dance with happiness by putting a napkin on the head. Bakeneko eventually kills the owners who mistreat them by cursing or setting fire to the house with power. Legend also said this devious demon cat brings protection to owners who care them for as the payback of human’s love. You better love and care for your kitty with gentle love. This is also can be a warning for children not to torture and mistreat kitties. The legend true or not, we all should love our feline companions no matter sick or old they are.


This Nekomata is very similar to Bakeneko but it is a more powerful and dangerous version. Nekomata are known as Kaidan which is translated into ” rare, powerful and mysterious creature” in English. Even Nekomata is superior, the basic changing stage is the same. when a cat became old enough, it became a monster. Nekomata has double identical tails which are longer than normal Bakeneko. In ancient times, some cat demons are living in Temples and serve gods. When people offer food grains to gods, they protect these offerings from rodents. Actually, there are 2 main types of Nekomata.

1. Mountain Nekomata

In ancient Japanese literature, we can find about ” Mountain Beasts” which are referred to Nekomata. Sometimes they can be seen like leopard size furious large cats. Mountain Nekomata shape-shifts into human and fools the victims. There was a Nekomata disease spreads among villages near mountains in 1331 which looks like Rabies. Mount Nekomadake is named after the beast.

2. House cat Nekomata

Domesticated Nekomata is a pet cat that transformed and eats people. After being abandoned by owners for several years, they became vengeful Kaidan and grew the second tail. Japan has a strange tale about the house of Nekomata. in 1708, a wealthy Samurai was in deep trouble with his poltergeist house. He called priests and shamans but no one could ever find the reason for being haunted. One day, a loyal servant noticed one of Samurai’s old cat has supernatural behaviors. He alarmed his master as soon as possible. The Samurai killed the cat with a holy arrow and then they found out the cat’s second tail appeared after death. Nekomata can do very powerful necromancy magic to revenge on humans. Sometimes they shape-shift to old rude women.

Well, I am not supportive of believing and killing cats as demons. Sometimes superstitions bring sadful results. The culture of cutting kittens’ tails to prevent becoming a demon cat was started by the Nekomata myth. It is a very cruel act to cut out a kitty’s tail just because of own fear.

Nowadays, these unwanted fears are slowly disappearing by modern cultures. Millions of super cute and sexy cat girl animes are coming out based on Bekeneko and Nekomata. Because of these adorable anime catgirls, fearful folklore creatures turned into lovely popular icons. I hope you enjoy the knowledge of this wonderful Bakeneko and Nekomata myth.

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