It’s getting closer to a very spooky day, so let’s talk about The Wampus Cat. A good deal of may never have heard of it, but that doesn’t mean the legend is less real. This is an Appalachian supernatural beast with its very roots in Cherokee tales. From what I understand, the legend begins with a Native American/Indigenous hunting tribe are about to embark on a long hunting trip. They allowed no women to accompany them as it would be too dangerous and rough on them, so they were to be left behind.
The story continues that during this trip that one woman from the village went alone, anyway. She covered herself in the hide of a mountain cat, cougar, or mountain lion. She spied on the men as they asked forgiveness for what they were about to do, taking lives of animals, but also thanking them for their lives. The woman was so enthralled she stepped back breaking a stick. This stirred the hunters and ultimately they took her back to the village to let the shaman of the tribe decide her fate. The shaman turned her into the animal she wore the hide of, a mountain cat.
There are different variations of the story I know online interesting reads. One variation is that the woman was the wife of one hunter and the other was a spirit that transformed into a woman to follow them. One of the more interesting variations is that the woman was cursed to walk alone for being a witch dating the legend to a different time period altogether.
It is said the Wampus Cat is forever to roam the Appalachian Mountains at night and some have claimed to see it. The tales are all different, as mentioned above, but primarily that it is a woman that roams the night as a half-cougar half-woman as a punishment of some sort. This is primarily a North Carolina crypto animal and tale.
Folklorist have dated the tale going back to the 19th century with a 20th century twist turning it into a Native American woman. In 1964 reports of a ‘ape-like’ creature seen roaming the woods came to light and they labeled it the Wampus Cat, but ‘ape-like’ and ‘cougar-like’ are very different descriptions. It is said that you know you have a Wampus Cat near if in the middle of the night you hear odd cat-like meowing or growling or if animals have disappeared from local farms.
The term ‘catawampus’ in the south to refer to something being ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ is said to come from this legend. I’ve even used this term to describe something messed up, for example: the room was clean until the kid ran through now it’s all catawampus.
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