A wampus cat (WAM-pus/kat) is a chimerical creature similar to a centaur, but instead of the body of a horse, it has the body of a large cat connected to the torso and head of a human. It has four paws and a tail as well as two arms and a human head. Wampus cats are as intelligent as people, although they prefer to live in the wild in their own communities and not mix with the Magimundi.
The wampus cats were allies and staunch defenders of the Cherokee people. There is a legend of an especially brave wampus cat that hunted and destroyed Ew’ah, the demon of madness. They can attack with their sharp claws and are also tool-users and apt hand-to-hand fighters. They have a true aim with ranged weapons as well.
Despite the legends of wampus cats being only female, they do exist in both sexes. They are matriarchal, living in large family units ruled by an alpha female. They prefer life in the wild and do not wish to join human communities. They can be friendly to humans, and were allies to the Cherokee people.
Wampus cats have several duplicate sets of internal organs: two hearts, two stomachs, two livers, four lungs, and four kidneys. Their systems are interwoven and branching so that food can be digested in either stomach and they can breathe in both sets of lungs at once. Because of this, they require more food than most animals of their size. An adult wampus cat has an adult-sized human torso connected to an adult-sized panther or puma torso.
Wampus cats are considered carnivorous. Their human stomachs can digest plant matter, but they tend not to consume such things, perhaps because the wampus cat has no control over which stomach will digest its food.
Wampus cats give birth to a small litter of two or three. Occasionally, they will birth a fourth kit, which they call an asegi (ah-SĀ-je). The asegi has a second feline torso rising from its body in place of any human features, giving it the appearance of two cats attached at the waist. An asegi has six paws and the standard duplicate organs of the wampus cat. Unlike the normal wampus cat, the asegi possesses only the intelligence and instincts of a typical large feline, such as a puma. Asegi are classified as non-sapient. Many wampus cats will kill their asegi at birth, but some will try to raise it as a typical child. In almost all cases, the asegi becomes a monstrous thing that hunts larger mammals including humans. Seeing an asegi is considered a bad omen, and many Magimundi communities will kill them on sight unless they are being protected by their family.
The existence of the asegi does create a rift in human/wampus cat relations. The wampus cat community is unhappy that the Magimundi consider some of their offspring to be monsters that need to be destroyed, while the leaders of the Magimundi have made it very clear that human- killers will not be tolerated.
Wampus cats prefer forested areas. They will dig dens or sleep in caves. They usually fashion their own weapons, but will also wield weapons obtained from trade or salvage. They live in large family groups, usually with two or three family units living together with a single female leader. Occasionally a wampus cat will be born with magical ability. However, these wampus cats do so at a price. They are rejected by their families who will either shun or attack them if they attempt to reconcile.
Because of this, it is incredibly rare to see a wampus cat as part of the magical community.
A juvenile wampus cat is called a wampus kitten. The collective noun for a group of wampus cats is a pride, with a family unit within the pride being called a family.
Wampus cats tend to live primarily in Solaris and Mishipeshu Provinces, with the largest concentration being around Tennessee. They prefer forested areas with lots of prey. They dislike urbanized areas and will avoid them if at all possible.
Wampus cats have dual sets of internal organs, one human and one feline. They can survive if one of the organs is damaged, but they will be unable to hunt well.
Wampus cats are carnivorous. They hunt and eat small and mid-sized mammals. Only the asegi hunt and eat humans.
Wampus cats will trade with humans, although it can be difficult and laborious to earn their trust. The body parts of a wampus cat can be used for spells and charms. Their fur contains interesting magical properties, and can be fashioned into clothing that allows one to move stealthily about.
Note: Wampus cats are considered a protected species by the North American Council of Five. They are considered sentient beings with intelligence equal to humans. Harvesting a wampus cat for parts carries with it the same penalties as harvesting a human for parts.
This does not apply to the asegi. They can be hunted and harvested and their fur and parts are as useful as that of a normal wampus cat. Some magi have tried to tame the asegi as hunters or guardians or even familiars, but this has inevitably ended in tragedy with the asegi turning on its owner or their family members.
Wampus cats are formidable hunters and fighters. They are somewhat resistant to magic so especially strong spells are suggested when fighting them. Counter to common belief, wampus cats are excellent climbers and swimmers so climbing a tree or hiding in a river will not keep you safe from a determined wampus cat. Asegi are easily spooked by loud noises, especially explosions. You can often scare off a pursuing asegi with a loud noise.