The Wampus cat is a creature in American folklore, variously described as some kind of fearsome variation on 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. 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:
- Cambridge City High School, Cambridge City, Indiana -- consolidated into Cambridge City Lincoln High School.
- Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School, Clark Fork, Idaho - seen as a yellow cougar with a spiked ball on its tail.
- Conway 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
- The Tennessee Wampus Cats, an Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, Knoxville, Tennessee.
- San Diego State University considered using Wampus Cats as a mascot prior to the eventual adoption of Aztecs as the SDSU mascot in 1925.
- The Charlotte Wampus Cats, an amateur football team in Charlotte, North Carolina (formerly Stray Cats) - 4x Sportslink Champions (Summer 2011, Fall 2014, Winter 2014 and Spring 2015)
- The Hawthorne High School Cougars, Hawthorne, California
- S E Schlosser (May 24, 2008). "The Wampus Cat: A Scary Story from Tennessee Folklore". Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- 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.
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- Uncle Dave Lewis. "Buddy Woods". Allmusic. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- 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