Early references, by the American Dialect Society, noted the wampus cat as, "A creature heard whining about camps at night," "A mythical green-eyed cat, having occult powers," or "an undefined imaginary animal." Folklorist Vance Randolph described the wampus cat as, "a kind of amphibious panther which leaps into the water and swims like a colossal mink." Other commentators liken the wampus cat to a creature of Cherokee mythology. In Cherokee mythology, the monster is the cat-like embodiment of a female onlooker cursed by tribal elders, as punishment for hiding beneath the pelt of a large wild cat to witness a sacred ceremony. The wampus cat is used as a mascot for numerous educational institutions. During the 1920–30s, newspapers reported of a "Wampus" cat killing livestock in North Carolina to Georgia. Though possibly due to early intrusions of coyotes or jaguarundi, the livestock deaths were attributed to the Wampus cat.
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
- The Wampus Cat has been associated in several South-Eastern tribal beliefs as a shapeshifter. One can find the story in Cherokee folklore.
In popular culture
- A musical ensemble who recorded several tracks in 1937 and 1938, and consisting of six or seven string musicians including Oscar "Buddy" Woods, were billed as 'The Wampus Cats'.
- 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. 
- Strangeways Brewing in Virginia brews a beer named after the cat.
- In the Cormac McCarthy novel The Orchard Keeper, the character Uncle Ather tells stories about wampus cats, or "painters".
- In the Roald Dahl novel James and the Giant Peach, the police officers and firemen of New York City mistook the Centipede for a Wampus.
- In Skylanders: Imaginators, the Skylander Sensei Mysticat is a sphinx who evokes the traits of the wampus cat.
- "American Dialect Society. Dialect Notes (1905-1912). Volume III. (New Haven: The Turtle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, 1913)". Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Randolph, Vance. We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951.)
- "The Wampus Cat - North Carolina Ghosts". northcarolinaghosts.com. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
- Tribune, Dale Gowing Mooresville. "Wampus and other spooky tales…". Mooresville Tribune. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
- 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.
- Itasca ISD - TX - IISD Home Archived September 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Leesville High School - Home Archived April 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Stonestreet, O.C. (2016). O.C. Stonestreet IV, Curse of the Wampus, and other Short Spooky Stories of Piedmont North Carolina (1st ed.). Duke Libraries: Createspace. p. 74. ISBN 978-1523237494. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
- 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.
- "Strangeways Wampus Cat Triple IPA". RateBeer. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- McCarthy, Cormac (August 11, 2010). The Orchard Keeper. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307762504.