the online database of Japanese folklore



Translation: forked cat
Habitat: towns and cities
Diet: carnivorous; frequently humans

Appearance: One particularly monstrous breed of bakeneko is the two-tailed variety known as nekomata. Nekomata are found in cities and villages and are born in the same way as other bakeneko. However, only the oldest, largest cats with the longest tails—and thus the most intelligence—become this powerful variety. When a nekomata transforms into a yōkai, its tail splits down the center into two identical tails. These monster cats are most likely seen walking around on their hind legs and speaking human languages.

Behavior: While not all bakeneko are malicious or violent towards their masters, all nekomata are; they look upon humans with contempt. Nekomata summon fireballs and start great conflagrations, killing many people. They control corpses like puppet-masters with their necromantic powers, and they use their powerful influence to blackmail or enslave humans.

The most dangerous and powerful nekomata live deep in the mountains, where they prowl in the shape of wild cats like leopards and lions. They grow to incredible sizes, many meters long, and prey on other large animals such as wild boars, dogs, bears, and of course humans.

Alphabetical list of yōkai