The Wampus cat is a creature in American folklore, described as a fearsome variation of a cougar.
The wampus cat is often compared to the "Ewah" of Cherokee mythology, in that it was a woman who disguised herself in the skin of a cougar to spy on the men of the tribe, as they sat around the campfire with their wolf brothers, and told sacred stories on a hunting trip. When the woman was discovered, the tribe's medicine man punished her by transforming her into a half-woman, half-cat, who supposedly still haunts the forests of East Tennessee. The range of this creature has been tracked into the Carolinas as well. In folklore, it can be seen as one of a number of fearsome critters. In some sections of rural East Tennessee, the legend of the Wampus Cat takes on a more sinister tone. It is said that the Wampus Cat is a spirit of death and the earth, and when her cry is heard, it means someone is going to die and be buried within the next three days.
The Wampus cat is the mascot of the following:
- Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School, Clark Fork, Idaho – seen as a yellow cougar with a spiked ball on its tail.
- Conway Junior High/ High School, Conway, Arkansas – seen as a six-legged cat. Described by locals as "a mountain lion with six legs: four for running, and two for fighting.
- Atoka High School, Atoka, Oklahoma
- Itasca High School, Itasca, Texas
- Leesville High School, Leesville, Louisiana
- Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
In popular culture
J. K. Rowling's Pottermore story History of Magic In North America lists the Wampus cat as a source for hair used in magic wands. The American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Ilvermorny, also has named one of its four houses for the mythical beast.
- S E Schlosser (May 24, 2008). "The Wampus Cat: A Scary Story from Tennessee Folklore". Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- Curse of the Wampus, and other Short Spooky Stories of Piedmont North Carolina Paperback. Createspace Publishing – (March 2, 2016) by O C Stonestreet IV
- Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School website Legend written by lifelong Clark Fork resident Shirley Dawson Crawford
- Owens, Judy (June 20, 2008). "Reporters Looking for Stories, Finding Wampus Cats | Daily Yonder | Keep It Rural". Daily Yonder. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
- "Atoka Alumni Association – Home". Wampuscatalumni.com. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
- Archived September 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Pottermore - Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry". Pottermore. June 28, 2016.
- Uncle Dave Lewis. "Buddy Woods". Allmusic. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Sian Cain. "New JK Rowling story History of Magic in North America depicts Native American wizards". the Guardian.
- Rowling, J.K. (March 11, 2016). "1920s Wizarding America", "History of Magic in North America". Pottermore.
- Rowling, J.K. (June 28, 2016). "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry", "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry". Pottermore.
- Spooky South: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore By S. E. Schlosser, Paul G. Hoffman (Chapter 16, Wampus cat, Knoxville, Tennessee) pp. 92–98