The Wampus cat is a cat-like creature in American folklore that varies widely in appearance, ranging from frightful to comical, depending on region.
Early references, by the American Dialect Society, noted the Wampus cat as "a creature heard whining about camps at night," "a spiritual 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 legends, the monster is the cat-like embodiment of a female onlooker cursed by tribal elders, as punishment for hiding beneath the pelt of a wild cat to witness a sacred ceremony. The Wampus cat is used as a mascot for several educational institutions. During the 1920–30s, newspapers reported 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: