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Three Cat Cryptids: White Death, Wampus Beast, and Cactus Cat

Darcie spends her free time going down research rabbit holes and occasionally writing down what she finds.

Learn about three legendary cats: the White Death, the Wampus Beast, and the Cactus Cat.

Learn about three legendary cats: the White Death, the Wampus Beast, and the Cactus Cat.

Feline Folklore

Sometimes, I come across a cryptid that I find interesting, but there just isn't enough information about it available for me to write a full-fledged piece about it.

I'm a cat lover, so naturally, cat-like cryptids hold a special place in my heart. Because of that, I've decided to compile this article of three brief descriptions of cat-like cryptids that I personally found interesting.

  • The White Death
  • The Wampus Beast
  • The Cactus Cat

The White Death

The White Death, also known as the Alaskan Tiger, is the cryptid on this list that I was able to find the least information about. It supposedly inhabits the swampy areas near Paxson, Alaska. Because the habitat it lives in is full of marshy terrain that is difficult for people to travel through, modern documented sightings are rare.

There is a legend in the area that for every human the White Death kills, another stripe appears on the beast's back.

It has been speculated that the White Death might be a Siberian Tiger, but this is unlikely, as their main food source, the red deer, is not present in the area.

The White Death was once featured on the show Alaska Monsters, but as it generally is with these types of monster-hunting shows, nothing concrete came of it.

An artist interpretation of the Wampus Beast as shown on "Mountain Monsters."

An artist interpretation of the Wampus Beast as shown on "Mountain Monsters."

The Wampus Beast

The Wampus Beast is probably the most well-known cryptid on this list, or at least it was the most well-known one to me. It was once featured on an episode of Mountain Monsters (a ridiculous and unintentionally funny show I highly recommend), which is where I first heard of it.

The Wampus Beast is also known as the Wampus Cat. It is said to be panther-like and has glowing, "luminous yellow eyes." It is most known in Tennessee, where it has supposedly been seen for "hundreds of years," but it has also been reported in the Carolinas and West Virginia.

Another interpretation of the Wampus Beast.

Another interpretation of the Wampus Beast.


There are several legends surrounding the origin of the Wampus Beast. Two of these are supposedly Cherokee folklore, but in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not Cherokee, and I have no idea if this is actually the case.

One version of the story relates the Wampus Beast to the Ewah legend. A woman who distrusted her husband put on an animal hide to disguise herself. She then followed him to a meeting where men were telling sacred hunting stories. She was found, and a medicine man cast a spell that fused the animal hides to her and caused her to become a beast.

The other version that is claimed to be a Cherokee legend involves a warrior's wife who took vengeance on a beast that killed her husband. She put on a mountain lion's skin to go hunt it. When the beast saw her, it ran, but her spirit still roams the area cloaked in that mountain lion skin.

A third origin story for the Wampus Beast says that there was once a witch in the hills of West Virginia who went around at night stealing and killing livestock. The townsfolk caught her in the middle of her transformation into a cat, stopping her halfway through and condemning her to be in this half-woman, half-cat state forever.

The Wampus House crest from Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Wampus House crest from Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Modern-Day Interpretations and References

In the modern day, the Wampus Beast is rumored to live in sewers and give off an awful stench, described as "like a mixture of skunk and wet dog." It has also been blamed for killing animals and stealing children.

In Tennessee, the Wampus Beast is seen as the spirit of death and the earth. When its cry is heard, someone will die and be buried within three days.

The Wampus Beast is also the mascot of several schools, both real and fictional. These include Conway High School in Arkansas, Leesville High School in Louisiana, and the Wampus house of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter universe.

A Cactus Cat drunkenly stumbles around in this illustration.

A Cactus Cat drunkenly stumbles around in this illustration.

The Cactus Cat

The Cactus Cat is by far the most interesting (to me, personally) cryptid on this list. It is reportedly seen in the deserts of the American Southwest, such as those in California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

The Cactus Cat, at first glance, simply looks like a large black cat, standing about two feet and weighing about 30 pounds. However, its fur is spiky and thorny, with a branched tail and thin, razor-sharp bones running along its front legs.

But don't be frightened just yet. The Cactus Cat is not typically considered to be aggressive towards humans. Those sharp bones primarily exist to enable the Cactus Cats to cut cacti.

In the 19th century, people described seeing "strange beasts" coming out at night to slash open cacti and drink the sap, which caused them to become intoxicated and attack travelers (in the rare cases humans were spotted by them, of course). Frontiersmen would also supposedly wake up to find welts on their bodies where the cat's barbed tail had touched them.

The Cactus Cat is known to have a unique cry that can be heard throughout the desert at night, and it also gives off the sound of its bones rubbing together.

This creature is likely a misidentified bobcat, mountain lion, or porcupine, and its cry is that of a puma.

Many More Cat Cryptids Are Said to Exist

These three cryptids are just a small sampling of the many cat-like creatures said to exist not just in the United States but throughout the world. But if I were to cover all cat-like cryptids, the list would probably never end.

This just gives you an idea of how vast the world of cryptids and cryptozoology truly is.


jeremy arion kidd on April 01, 2020:

the wampus beast is a Hellcat!