The cactus cat (KAK-tus/KAT) is a cryptid found in Baja Province. It resembles a large feline about the size of a bobcat with a spiky coat and a branching tail. However, it is not a mammal at all, but a fast-moving mobile cactus, which uses mimicry to look like a cat.
The cactus cat does not put down roots. It obtains nutrients by slashing open normal cacti and drinking the sap, often waiting a day or two for the sap to ferment. Drinking heavily of this mezcal-like substance will intoxicate the cactus cat, which will then dance, stumble around, and make loud yowling sounds through the night.
Cactus cats are green and can photosynthesize, but still require the sap of local cacti for nutrients. They have four feet, with razor-sharp claws, as well as a traditional cat’s face, with eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth, and spiky whiskers. These all seem to perform the same sensory functions as they do with an actual cat, allowing the cactus cat to see, hear, smell, and use the whiskers for balance and sizing. They do not appear to have any sense of taste.
Cactus cats do not breathe as mammals do, but “inhale” carbon dioxide and “exhale” oxygen as part of photosynthesis. They are able to vocalize and their drunken night caterwauling is a memorable experience. They can also purr.
Cactus cats do not have typical mammalian internal organs but possess a spongy interior similar to a cactus. They do not seem to feel pain but dislike and will resist being cut. Cactus cats also have an internal sap which is highly alcoholic and magical. Cactus cat sap (colloquially called “cat juice” or “catsap”) is supposed to be able to get one pleasantly drunk with just one sip; however, it causes a wicked hangover the next morning. It is a magical hangover, immune to all charms and attempts to dispel it.
Cactus cats live in family groups in the wild, with both male and female alternating as leaders. Once the cactus kittens mature, they leave to form their own family groups. Cactus cats are fiercely protective of their space and mark their territories with scent. However, cactus cats from many different territories are known to congregate when drunk for a group yowl.
Cactus cats can be kept as pets, and much like their mammalian counterparts, they enjoy resting in the sunlight and destroying houseplants. They cannot be trained, although they can be used as familiars. Their flowers can be harvested both as spell and alchemy components and as decoration.
A juvenile cactus cat is called a cactus kitten. The collective noun for a family of cactus cats is a family. Groups larger than a family are called a cacophony.
Cactus cats live in dry, arid areas with some native vegetation. They can commonly be found in the southwestern United States. They do not sleep, per se, but do rest from time to time in the sun.
Internally, cactus cats resemble the cacti they feed on, however, they do have sensory organs on their face and a mass of tissue in the head area resembling a brain. They have sharp, retractable claws, and spines on their ‘pelt.’ Cactus cats reproduce sexually via pollination of a female cat’s flowers.
Cactus cats photosynthesize and also drink the sap of native cacti. They do not drink each other’s sap.
The spines of cactus cats may occasionally be used for wands. Their flowers can be used in charms and ground into potions. Their sap can be used in potions as well, or drunk as a powerful alcoholic beverage. Cactus cats may be kept as pets or used as familiars. The sensory organs of cactus cats may be used in spells that require similar sensory organs, eyes for eyes and so forth, but they produced unpredictable results.
Cactus cats typically do not attack unless defending their young and they have no natural fear of humans, often choosing to simply ignore those who pass through (as long as they keep moving). The chief weapons of the cactus cat are its razor-sharp claws and teeth and its spiked tail. Its spiny coat grants it an excellent defense against most physical attacks, and it is only vulnerable to plant (rather than animal) spells. The best way to befriend a cactus cat is to carry a flask of liquor, the closer to mezcal or tequila, the better. Drawn by the scent, cactus cats will actively come to you, drink the liquor and allow themselves to be petted and scratched. Watch out for the spines when you pet them.