Loch Ness has its monster; the Pacific Northwest has Sasquatch; Mexico has the Chupacabra.
But what does Northeast Tennessee have?
The Wampus Cat. Half-woman, half-cat, and all-terrorizing—the cat kills animals, steals children and smells like a mixture of skunk and wet dog.
It’s really no secret that cats have long been associated with witches and/or evil in general. If a black cat crosses your path, you’re in for some bad luck. But if the Wampus Cat crosses your path, “bad luck” might be the best you can hope for!
Local legend gives numerous accounts of where the Wampus Cat came from, but one thing that everyone agrees on is that it’s been scaring the bejeezus out of people in Northeast Tennessee for hundreds of years.
There once was a young Cherokee woman who had a serious lack of trust for her husband. So one night, while the men of the tribe were hunting, she decided she’d sneak up and spy on the group. So she took the skin of a mountain lion, draped it over her head, and approached the group in the dark. Moments later, she was discovered, and taken to the medicine man, whose punishment was to make the lady wear the mountain lion’s coat forever. Her spirit continues to wander the area, with her mortifying appearance etched in the nightmares of men, women, and children alike.
An awful beast had been terrorizing the Cherokee for quite some time, when a young warrior summoned the courage to put an end to it. So he set out to destroy the beast, once and for all. But as he approached it, the beast turned and faced the warrior. As he looked upon the face of the beast, the warrior was instantly driven insane.
Vowing revenge, the warrior’s wife set out to find the beast. She cloaked herself in the skin of a mountain lion, and sneaked up behind it. When the beast turned and saw her, he ran away, terrified, and was never seen again. But the spirit of the woman still roams the area, wearing the mask of the mountain lion.
There once was an old woman who lived by herself in the hills of West Virginia. Rumor had it she was a witch, and that she sneaked around at night stealing and killing livestock. So one night, the townsfolk got fed up with losing their animals, and made plans to catch her in the act. And although they never actually caught her stealing cattle or sheep, they did catch her in the middle of her transformation from woman to cat. Startled, her metamorphosis stopped and she remained half-woman, half-cat forever.
Just like Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, sightings of the Wampus Cat are too abundant to count. Its been seen throughout Northeast Tennessee, in Eastern Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, and has even been spotted on the campus at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. And some say it makes its current home in the sewers below the city of Knoxville (which would explain the Wampus Cat’s awful smell).
So if you see a half-woman, half-cat, walking upright with luminous yellow eyes, you’ll most likely be tempted to run screaming in the opposite direction. But if you manage to keep your wits about you, I only ask that you do the one thing that no one has managed to do thus far: snap a picture! I’d love to see it!