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The Catbus (ネコバス, Nekobasu) (referred to in the film as ねこのバス, Neko no basu) is a fictional character in the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is a large, grinning twelve-legged cat with a hollow body that serves as a bus, complete with windows and seats covered with fur, and a large bushy tail. The character's popularity has led to its use in a spinoff film, toys for children, an art car, and a place in the Ghibli Museum. Catbus is believed to be based on the Japanese bakeneko (化け猫, “changed cat”), an ancient urban legend where cats that grow old learn to shape-shift. In the original Japanese film My Neighbor Totoro, Catbus is voiced by Naoki Tatsuta. In the Disney English release, Catbus is voiced by Frank Welker.[1]

Character description[edit]

Catbus is a large, twelve-legged fictional creature whose appearance combines both a feline and a bus, but uses its eyes as headlights. On its sides are rectangular holes that act as windows, and it is able to shape-shift the windows at to create a door for passengers to board. It is hollow with furry seats along the inside walls. Its fur is depicted as orange with brown stripes across its back, forehead, legs, sides, and tail. There is a destination sign on the front of its rear that shifts to match its destination. Mice with glowing eyes are taped next to its destination sign to serve as tail lights. It has a large smile at all times, and can appear and disappear at will. It can travel to any destination that its passengers desire.[2]

The fictional character catbus was inspired by the Cheshire Cat from the 1951 Disney film Alice in Wonderland as the Cheshire Cat and Catbus both share similar features, like their large, mischievous grins.[3][4]


  • The Catbus was featured in the short 13-minute film Mei and the Kittenbus, which is shown only in the Ghibli Museum. In the film Mei, the younger sister, meets the offspring of the original Catbus, which is simply named Kittenbus. It is just large enough to fit Mei inside, and can only stir up dust devils. They fly into the forest with many other cat-based vehicles, including different types of catbuses and cattrains, which carry Totoro and many other forest spirits to a catliner, which is depicted as an ancient cat. Mei meets O-Totoro and befriends the catliner, before returning in the kittenbus to her home.
  • The Catbus, along with many of Miyazaki's characters, was parodied on the "Married to the Blob" episode of The Simpsons.
  • One of the art cars at Burning Man was a Catbus.[5]
  • In the video game Persona 5, Morgana has the ability to turn himself into a bus. He explains that the Japanese public has a widespread cognition of cats transforming into buses "for some reason", as a reference to Catbus, which is the reason he can do this in the Metaverse.[6]
  • An unofficial gravity racer version of the Catbus featured in the London 2019 edition of the Red Bull Soapbox Race.[7] The 'Team Totoro' vehicle negotiated jumps and other obstacles at speeds in excess of 30 mph to complete the Alexandra Palace course.
  • A car resembling Catbus briefly appears in the Cars Toons short "Tokyo Mater".[8]
  • Catbus was used as a design base for the six-legged sky bison Appa on Avatar: The Last Airbender.[9]


  • The Catbus has been produced as a popular plush toy and as a con-vehicle.[4]
  • Many chain fashion stores, like Hot Topic, sell merchandise with designs of Catbus and other well-known characters from Studio Ghibli films.[10]

Other references[edit]

  • A species of velvet worm Eoperipatus totoro described in June 2013 was named by the scientists because of its somewhat resemblance to the Totoro Catbus.[11][12][13]
  • In the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, there is an exhibit of a large plush catbus, which can be played with and entered by children 12 years and under.[14]
  • The Catbus has been referenced by Anthrocon staff when mentioning its hotel shuttle service from remote hotels in Pittsburgh.[15] Commenters have suggested that in this instance, "CATbus" would be for "Circulating Anthropomorphic Transit bus".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catbus". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2022-08-22.
  2. ^ My Neighbor Totoro. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 1988.
  3. ^ Esmerelda, Jade Nicolette. "Studio Ghibli: 15 Things You Never Knew About My Neighbor Totoro". ScreenRant.
  5. ^ "Bus + Cat = This". Neatorama.
  6. ^ "Persona 5 players are praising the games witty nod to Studio Ghibli". Polygon. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  7. ^ "Red Bull Soapbox Race UK". Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  8. ^ "In the Cars short Tokyo Mater (2008), a car resembling the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro (1988) appears towards the end when Mater is celebrating his victory".
  9. ^ Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino (2006-09-19). Book 1: Water, Box Set (DVD).
  10. ^ "Studio Ghibli My Neighbor Totoro Catbus T-Shirt".
  11. ^ Philip Kendall (21 August 2013). "From cameos to creepy-crawlies: 15 little-known facts about Studio Ghibli movies". Rocket News 24. RocketNews24 / Socio Corporation. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  12. ^ Ivan Radford (30 May 2013). "25 awesome true facts about My Neighbour Totoro". Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  13. ^ Oliveira Ide S, Schaffer S, Kvartalnov PV, Galoyan EA, Palko IV, Weck-Heimann A, Geissler P, Ruhbergh H, Mayer G (2013). "A new species of Eoperipatus (Onychophora) from Vietnam reveals novel morphological characters for the South-East Asian Peripatidae". Zoologischer Anzeiger. 252 (4): 495–510. doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2013.01.001.
  14. ^ Takai, Shinichi. "Welcome! - Ghibli Museum, Mitaka". Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  15. ^ Samuel Conway. "Anthrocon announces downtown hotel shuttle service!". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-03-08.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]