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European folklore usually depicts werecats who transform into domestic cats. Some European werecats became giant domestic cats or panthers. They are generally labelled witches, even though they may have no magical ability other than self-transformation. During the witch trials, the official Church doctrine stated that all shapeshifters, including werewolves, were witches whether they were male or female
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African legends describe people who turn into lions or leopards. In the case of leopards, this is often because the creature is really a leopard god or goddess masquerading as a human. When these gods mate with humans, offspring can be produced, and these children sometimes grow up to be shapeshifters; those who do not transform may instead have other powers. In reference to werecats who turn into lions, the ability is often associated with royalty. Such a being may have been a king or queen in a former life, or may be destined for leadership in this life. This quality can be seen in the lions of Tsavo, which were reputed to be kings in lion shape, attempting to repel the invading Europeans by stopping their railroad due to attacks on humans.
Mainland Asian werecats usually become tigers. In India, the weretiger is often a dangerous sorcerer, portrayed as a menace to livestock, who might at any time turn to man-eating. These tales travelled through the rest of India and into Persia through travellers who encountered the Royal Bengal Tigers of India and then further west. Chinese legends often describe weretigers as the victims of either a hereditary curse or a vindictive ghost. Ancient teachings held that every race except the Han Chinese were really animals in disguise, so that there was nothing extraordinary about some of these false humans reverting to their true natures. Alternatively, the ghosts of people who had been killed by tigers could become a malevolent supernatural being known as "Chang", (伥) devoting all their energy to making sure that tigers killed more humans. Some of these ghosts were responsible for transforming ordinary humans into man-eating weretigers. Also, in Japanese folklore there are creatures called bakeneko that are similar to kitsune (fox spirits) and tanuki (raccoon dogs). In Thailand a tiger that eats many humans may become a weretiger. There are also other types of weretigers, such as sorcerers with great powers who can change their form to become animals. In Thailand however the were-crocodile is more famous than any other werebeast. In the folk tale Krai-thong, for example, the hero defeats Chalawan the Giant, who could take the form of a crocodile with diamond teeth. Chalawan was nearly invulnerable and could use magic as well.
In both Indonesia and Malaysia there is another kind of weretiger, known as Harimau jadian. The power of transformation is regarded as due to inheritance, to the use of spells, to fasting and willpower, to the use of charms, etc. Save when it is hungry or has just cause for revenge, it is not hostile to man; in fact, it is said to take its animal form only at night and to guard the plantations from wild pigs. Variants of this belief assert that the shapeshifter does not recognize his friends unless they call him by name, or that he goes out as a mendicant and transforms himself to take vengeance on those who refuse him alms. Somewhat similar is the belief of the Khonds; for them the tiger is friendly, and he reserves his wrath for their enemies. A man is said to take the form of a tiger in order to wreak a just vengeance. Also in Malaysia, Bajangs have been described as vampiric or demonic werecats.
The Americas 
The foremost were-animal in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures was the were-jaguar. It was associated with the veneration of the jaguar, with priests and shamans among the various peoples who followed this tradition wearing the skins of jaguars to "become" a were-jaguar. Among the Aztecs, an entire class of specialized warriors who dressed in the jaguar skins were called "jaguar warriors" or "jaguar knights". Depictions of the jaguar and the were-jaguar are among the most common motifs among the artifacts of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. The balams (magicians) of Yucatán were said to guard the maize fields in animal form.
In the US, urban legends tell of encounters with feline bipeds; beings similar to the Bigfoot having cat heads, tails, and paws. Feline bipeds are sometimes classified as part of cryptozoology, but more often they are interpreted as werecats.
Occultism and theology 
Assertions that werecats truly exist and have an origin in supernatural or religious realities have been common for centuries, with these beliefs often being hard to entirely separate from folklore. In the 19th century, occultist J.C. Street asserted that material cat and dog transformations could be produced by manipulating the "ethereal fluid" that human bodies are supposedly floating in. The Catholic witch-hunting manual, the Malleus Maleficarum, asserted that witches can turn into cats, but that their transformations are illusions created by demons. New Age author John Perkins asserted that every person has the ability to shapeshift into "jaguars, bushes, or any other form" by using mental power. Occultist Rosalyn Greene claims that werecats called "cat shifters" exist as part of a "shifter subculture" or underground New Age religion based on lycanthropy and related beliefs.
In popular culture 
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Werecats are not featured as often as werewolves in popular culture.
- In 1997, White Wolf Publishing released the tabletop Role-playing game Bastet where the players get to play Werecats. Weretigers are also featured in Dungeons and Dragons.
- The 1988 video game Altered Beast includes a stage where power-ups transform the player into a weretiger, which provides extra strength and firepower.
- The 1942 Val Lewton film Cat People and its 1982 remake both feature female shape changers, respectively Simone Simon and Nastassja Kinski (the latter in a highly sexual role). The 1982 version includes Malcolm McDowell as her brother, also a shape changer.
- In She-Ra: Princess of Power the villainess Catra can change into a panther.
- Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle series includes several characters who are werecats.
- In the 1998 animated film Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the villains of the film (Lena DuPrais, Simone Lenoir, and Jacques) were all werecats. It all started when Lena and Simone invoked the powers of their cat god to kill a bloodthirsty pirate named Morgan Moonscar in revenge for sending their people to their demise. Evern since then, Lena and Simone have been luring more people into their island to drain them of their life forces to preserve their immortality, and have done so for centuries (with the help from Jacques, who gave in his job as a ferry driver to lure more people into the island in exchange for immortality). They were referred to as "cat creatures" several times. Other occurrences of "cat creatures" have appeared on What's New, Scooby Doo? and The Scooby-Doo Show
- The children's novel, Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates, features an enchantress named Leonora, who can turn herself into a panther at will. She is recognisable in this form by the colour of her pelt; tawny, like her eyes when she is in human form.
- In the online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft, druids can transform into panther or lion-like forms, depending on their chosen race.
- The protagonist of Rachel Vincent's Shifters series is a female werecat: she is a member of a Pride led by her father.
- In the Harry Potter series of novels, Minerva McGonagall is able to transform into a cat, due to her being an Animagus.
- In Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels, there are several characters who are werecats of varying types.
- In the video game Breath of Fire III, one of the main characters, Rei, is a weretiger.
- The game Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen features weretigers as hidden characters who can be recruited.
- In the book On the Edge, by Ilona Andrews, the heroine's brother is a werecat. He can turn into a lynx at will. Also, in Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books, the leader of the Pack is a werecat. He can change into a lion.
- The Torchwood short story "Mrs Acres" by David Llewellyn (appearing in the Torchwood Magazine 2009 yearbook) featured the character of Colin Acres, a shapeshifting alien which alternated between human form and that of a large, cat-like creature.
- In the video game Bayonetta, the main character has the ability to transform into a black panther. Jeanne (a fellow witch in the game) can transform into a red lynx.
- The short story "Lusus Naturae" by Margaret Atwood centers on a young woman whose parents fake her death to hide the fact that she is a werecat.
- In the manga/anime Bleach the character Yoruichi Shihoin can transform into a cat at will.
- The Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow contains a number of werecat (or cat-were) characters.
- In the Sisters of the Moon series by Yasmine Galenorn one of the main characters is a werecat named Delilah D'artigo.
- In the second-season Merlin episode "The Lady of the Lake", a young Druid girl named Freya transforms into a winged werecat called a Bastet every night at the stroke of midnight, the result of a curse.
- In the Ghosts of Fear Street book, Night of the Werecat the main character transforms into a werecat every night after buying the werecat pendant.
- The Darkstalkers game series features Felicia, a character that can shift between a domestic cat form and a werecat girl whenever she wants.
- In Charlaine Harris's The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, werecats appear starting in the fourth novel, Dead to the World. In Dead as a Doornail, the main character's brother turns into a werepanther. In the HBO series True Blood, the werepanthers are introduced in the third season.
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novels there is a race of fairies known as the Cait Sidhe that can transform into cats at will, the most notable example being Tybalt, King of Cats.
- Shijima Kurookano from the anime and manga Nabari No Ou can transform into a cat, although this is her true form.
- Marvel Comics has Catseye of the Hellions, a female teenage mutant werecat.
- In long running independent comic book Gold Digger (see Gold Digger (comics)), one of the female leads is a werecheetah. The series also has werelions, weretigers, and werejaguars
- In the second book of the Elseworlds Batman vampire trilogy, Selina Kyle is attacked by a werewolf, which later causes her to literally become a catwoman when she transforms into a purple werecat.
- In Michael Jackson's Thriller, Michael transforms into a werecat.
- In Diana Ross' music video Eaten Alive she transforms into a black panther.
- Schrödinger from the anime Hellsing is a werecat.
- A werecat character is said to be appearing in the new upcoming film series the [Nocturnal Chronicles].
- Jessica from Halloweentown High is a werecat from "Canada".
- In Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, the character Boo Cat is a werecat.
- In 2011–2012 a popular doll line by Mattel, called Monster High, added many werecats.
- In Chie Shinohara's 1984 manga series Yami no Paapuru, the main character, Rinko, is pursued by the scientist, Sonehara, in order to expose to the world that Rinko is a human that can become a panther at will.
- Werecats feature in the fantasy series Wereworld by Curtis Jobling.
- In the Monster High franchise, there are four werecats mentioned.
See also 
- Galenorn, Yasmine (2006). Witchling. Berkley. p. 33.
- Monster Manual: Core Rulebook III. Wizards of the Coast. 2003. pp. 165–166.
- Feehan, Christine (2002). Lair of the Lion. Leisure Books.
- Worland, Rick (2006). The Horror Film: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 73, 176–178, 184. More than one of
- Greene, Rosalyn (2000). The Magic of Shapeshifting. Weiser. p. 9. More than one of
- Hamel, Frank (1969). Human Animals. New Hyde Park: University Books. pp. 7, 103–109. More than one of
- Summers, Montague; Heinrich Kramer, James Sprenger (2000). The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. Book Tree. pp. 61–65.
- Summers, Montague (1966). The Werewolf. University Books. p. 21.
- lycanthropy – the were-tiger of the east indies
- Encyclopædia Britannica. 1910-1911.
- Steiger, Brad (2001). Out of the Dark. Kensington Books. pp. 154–160.
- Hamel, Frank (1969). Human Animals. New Hyde Park: University Books. p. 292.
- Summers, Montague; Heinrich Kramer, James Sprenger (2000). The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. Book Tree. pp. 127–128.
- Perkins, John (1997). Shape Shifting. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books. p. 3.
- Greene, Rosalyn (2000). The Magic of Shapeshifting. Weiser. pp. 53–89, 125, 149.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Borges, Jorge. (1969). The book of imaginary beings. New York: E. P. Dutton. ISBN 0-670-89180-0
- Greene, Rosalyn. (2000). The magic of shapeshifting. York Beach: Weiser. ISBN 1-57863-171-8
- Hall, Jamie. (2003). Half human, half animal: Tales of werewolves and related creatures. Bloomington: 1st Books. ISBN 1-4107-5809-5
- Hamel, Frank. (1969). Human animals: Werewolves & other transformations. New Hyde Park: University Books. ISBN 0-8216-0092-3
- Steiger, Brad. (2001). Out of the dark. New York: Kensington Books. ISBN 1-57566-896-3
- Saunders, Nicholas J. (1991). The cult of the cat. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-81036-2