The Cats of the Pokémon Series
Two of the most beloved things on the Internet are cats and Pokémon. As of October 2013, the Pokémon series has more than 700 monsters. I am a boomerang fan: I started with the original game and went on a fifteen year hiatus, only to pick up the newest versions of X and Y recently. The original game had only 151, which I memorized in chronological order. As fun as the new games are, I am past the point of even trying to memorize their names.
Having so many creatures has its disadvantages. Some designs suggest that GameFreak hired a third grade classroom to come up with original designs and paid them in extra homework. But there are a lot of neat Pokémon, too, and with monsters reminiscent of dragons, rodents, and kitchen appliances, there is something for everyone.
If, like me, you love the kitties, don't worry about sorting through hundreds and hundreds of monsters to find the felines. Here is a list, so you can truly "cat-ch" them all. (Anyone? No?)
Meowth (#52) / Persian (#53)
Meowth is one of the most famous and beloved Pokémon, thanks to the anime in which it is one of the two main non-human characters (the other being Pikachu itself). It also has the advantage of being in the original games, though it was exclusive to the Blue version, making it desirable and valuable as a trade. Meowth is a normal type Pokémon, based off of a "Maneki Neko," a Japanese cat charm usually pictured with coins and associated with good financial luck. Living up to these roots, Meowth and its evolution Persian have a signature move called "Pay Day." They hurl coins at their opponent and, if the battle is won, the trainer is free to net the spoils. Meowth has also been seen in most spin-off games and merchandise, making it truly the Pokémon series' top cat. Persian takes on a sleeker, more beautiful form, with a name that says spoiled, high class kitty. Like Meowth, Persian is associated with Pay Day, and the gold coin on Meowth's head has been switched out for a jewel. Persian is a normal type, but like Meowth it learns many dark type moves. In the anime, Persian was the beloved pet of Giovanni, the lead antagonist and head of the mafia group Team Rocket.
Mewtwo (#150) / Mew (#151)
This pair of legendary Pokémon cats is also extremely popular and has been around since the original games. Mewtwo could only be found, battled, and (hopefully) captured after the player had beaten the game. Mew was a "hidden" Pokémon—not available during normal gameplay at all and only officially given out at special Nintendo events. They might not look like cats at first sight, but official sources have confirmed that both are "feline." Mew's name even refers to the sound a kitten makes, and Mewtwo, being a clone of Mew, carries the namesake. Both are psychic types, and as legendary Pokémon have base stats so powerful they are banned from use in Pokémon tournaments. Mew has remained a fan favorite among legendaries and Mewtwo has even more of a reputation, appearing in side games and spinoffs including an appearance as a playable character in the Super Smash Bros series. Mewtwo also showed up as a catchable Pokémon in several games, including the most recent generation of X and Y. Mewtwo saw two possible battle-only "Mega Evolutions" in X and Y. Mew remains enigmatic, though fans frequently summon it for capture through cheats and hacking.
Espeon is cat-like, if not officially confirmed to be a cat. Espeon is one of the many possible evolutions for Eevee, a popular mammalian creature whose name comes from the word "evolution." Eevee's Generation 1 possible evolutions were Flareon (Fire type), Jolteon (Electric type), and Vaporeon (Water type). Generation 2 expanded the roster to include Umbreon (the newly introduced Dark type) and Espeon, a Psychic. Over the generations, additional "eeveelutions" have been added, such as Leafeon (guess which type that is?), Glaceon (Ice type) and the newest Sylveon (Fairy type). Eevee and most of its evolutions are generally fox-like or ambiguous mammals, though many have feline features. Espeon certainly falls into that category more than its cousins. To get an Espeon, get an Eevee to have high friendship with you and let it evolve naturally during the day (be sure to cancel the evolution if it tries to evolve at night, as that earns you an Umbreon instead).
Raikou is a member of the legendary beast trio from the second generation, along with Entei and Suicune. Interestingly, there is fan debate about whether the "legendary beast trio" are cats or dogs, and some refer to them as either the "legendary dogs" or "cats". All three are mammalian with some ambiguous features, though Raikou is the only one who seems feline beyond doubt, specifically representing a sabertooth tiger. Raikou is an electric type Pokémon and game lore has it that Raikou appears during thunder storms and is able to ride storm clouds. Raikou also appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee as both a Pokéball attack and a trophy.
Skitty (#300) / Delcatty (#301)
Generation III offered a new kitty Pokémon, with names coming from "kitty" and "cat." No ambiguity here. Though many of the cats in the game are dark type, or associated with mischievous or fickle personalities, as a smiling pink kitten with needles protruding from its balloon-like tail, Skitty is all cute. It loves moving objects and will even chase its own tail until it gets dizzy. How adorable is that? Skitty is a normal type, though it is also a part of the Fairy egg group starting from Generation VI and evolves into Delcatty with the aid of a magical Moonstone. Delcatty, though more grown up and dignified, is no less sweet than Skitty. The pair are known for the move Assist, which lets them use the moves of opponents. Their Pokedéx entries claims that they are particularly popular with female trainers, but a million cute cat memes on the Internet might suggest that the popularity is more gender neutral. If you want more happiness in your life and are designing your team for aesthetics more than power level, Skitty or Delcatty are strong candidates for feline representation.
Generation III introduced Zangoose, a Normal-type Pokémon officially listed as a "cat ferret", with the appearance and namesake of a mongoose. The animal mongoose, it should be noted, is not directly related to cats, but does share the same species group with them (as well as hyenas and civets). As a bipedal, white and red, thick-clawed mammal, I'm not sure "cat ferret" is my first thought when I look at Zangoose, but if you squint, you can see a few feline qualities in the face. It is perhaps best known for having an in-universe rivalry with the snake Pokémon Seviper. In fact, in horde encounters - where the player runs into a group of Pokémon instead of a single one - Zangoose and Seviper can be found together, and will even attack one another instead of the player. Zangoose has a few great attacks, including Crush Claw, which used to be exclusive to it.
Though Absol is not confirmed to be a feline (many Pokémon are simply mammalian with ambiguous or mixed features), it does have a cat-like face, almond eyes, a sharp chin, and a battle cry that sounds just like the trill of a housecat. Absol, with a heavy name that probably comes from the word "absolution," is often associated with disasters by the people of the Pokémon world, as it tends to show itself just before bad things happen. Some even believe that Absol causes disasters. The anime offers Absol an olive branch in an episode that subverts this negative image by claiming that Absol was simply trying to warn the people of bad events. Absol is a Dark type Pokémon and the sixth generation established "Mega Absol"—a battle-only evolution in which Absol grows wings and insanely good stats.
Shinx (#403) / Luxio (#404) / Luxray (#405)
Finally, another cat that isn't Normal or Dark! This three-evolutions family introduced in Generation IV are all Electric type and resemble wild cats. Shinx is a cute little star-tailed guy with a name that probably comes from Lynx or Sphinx, plus a word that could be "shine" or "shock" both of which allude to its elemental type. It doesn't look particularly ferocious, but cubs of wild cats rarely do. Shinx makes its jump through Darwinism at level 15 and becomes the less cuddly Luxio. Luxio, with a name coming from the Latin word for "light" as well as "leo" is in its adolescence, and as such is no house kitty. Its mane has started to form and its smile has withered into a "Look how tough I am!" face. At level 30, Luxio grows into adulthood as Luxray and no longer looks even remotely domestic. It retains its star tail but grows a thick black mane. More than that, its Pokédex data is somewhat frightening. Apparently, Luxray has the power to see through anything, be it walls, or... we'll leave it at that. This also is probably what its name refers to, combining the previous Latin prefix with X-ray. Many of its data entries say that Luxio is a fierce hunter. It has high base stats and a high damage move set. Luxio also features a slight appearance difference between the genders, with male Luxio having a longer mane than female Luxio. It's definitely a strong addition to any cat lover's team, and with the exception of the aforementioned legendary Raikou, is the only Electric-type cat to date.
Glameow (#431) / Purugly (#432)
Generation IV's Glameow is another Normal type cat, and one of the many noted to have a surplus of attitude, but Glameow will also purr affectionately when happy. The joke with Glameow and its evolution Purugly is obvious without even seeing a picture of the cats in question. "Glameow" is a portmanteau of "glamorous" and "meow," so this is supposed to be one classy kitty. "Purugly" is "purr" and, well, "ugly." This evolution is a fat and much less good looking critter. Ha, ha? As a cat lover, I'm not much moved by a Pokémon with an insult worked right into the name, but it's not a bad addition to the team, either (and I wouldn't say its as ugly as it is weird looking). The Pokédex suggests Purugly attempts to make itself look bigger and fiercer to intimidate opponents. If Purugly is not for you, never fear. With a press of the B button during an evolution attempt, trainers can cancel and keep Glameow instead. The pair learn a standard set of normal and dark moves, as well as the useful sleep inducing Psychic attack, Hypnosis.
Purrloin (#509) / Liepard (#510)
Generation V introduced more dark and feisty kitties: Purrloin and its evolution Liepard. As its name suggests, Purrloin loves to steal though is capable of putting on a cute act that charms both people and Pokémon and instantly earns it forgiveness. Devious, manipulative, and too cute to have enemies, Purrloin is a master thief. The cute act can be witnessed in X and Y's "Pokémon Amie" program where it giggles and poses when stroked. Purrloin has a relatively early evolution to Liepard at level 20, who is noted for its stealth and beautiful fur. Liepard is a favorite among X and Y's villain group, Team Flare. Purrloin and Liepard learn a variety of Dark type moves, such as the powerful Night Slash and Sucker Punch. As of Generation VI, they also learn the Fairy type attack move "Play Rough." Despite the association with stealing and money, "Pay Day" remains a Meowth move, though the technique can be learned as an "egg" move by offspring if they are bred with Meowth. Both are decent Pokémon and can be excellent additions to a cat team. The only downside is that they are yet another Dark type and many trainers prefer not to have more than one of each type in order to balance their team's elements.
Litleo (#667) / Pyroar (#668)
Generation VI gave cat fans the first real lion Pokémon, and a fire type cat at that! Litleo is a big-eyed cub with a scruffy mohawk of fiery fur. Don't try to pet that in Pokémon Amie, because your hand will burn! According to data entries, these Pokémon live in prides like real lions. Litleo will go off to start its own group when it becomes strong enough. Litleo takes until level 35 to level up into the majestic Pyroar, which is among a handful of Pokémon that have significant differences in appearance depending on the gender. A male Pyroar, as one might expect, has a full mane of hair around his face, whereas the female has a long blaze of hair falling back behind her head. Both Litleo and Pyroar learn ferocious Attack moves, like Hyper Beam, Incinerate, and Overheat. Though they are Fire type, they are also strangely Normal—the only Pokémon with that particular combination. They still join most of the cats as Normal or Dark types. Lions are absolutely a welcome addition to Team Cats and powerful fire staples for any team.
Espurr (#677) / Meowstic (#678)
Along with Normal and Dark types, the Pokémon designers seem to see cats as psychic - a connection that has, to be fair, made by people throughout the ages. Generation VI introduced the incredibly adorable Espurr, a wide-eyed Scottish Fold kitty with folded ears and an "I see dead people" expression. Its cute-but-creepy persona is cemented by its Pokédex entry, which claims that it can blast everything within a 300 foot radius and has no control over that power. It seems to be a darling of the games. In X and Y, Espurr are frequently seen roaming around houses and cities. Espurr's name is a play on "ESP" and "purr." At level 25, things get interesting. Like Pyroar, the male and female Meowstic look completely different (though they are not considered separate Pokémon like Nidoran and its evolutions). Both are a little bigger, with folded ears that flare up like a rabbit's when they attack. The female is white and the male is dark blue. Another distinction is that the techniques they learn are different. The female Meowstic learns more attack moves, whereas the male learns more support and "trick" moves. Its name comes from a combination of "meow" and "mystic".
A Few Final Thoughts
This completes this list of definite or implied cats in the series as of Pokémon X and Y. There are honorable mentions as well, with a variety of monsters some fans consider or believe to be cat-inspired. Some of these include the other "Legendary Beasts", Abra and its evolutions, Sneasel, the Therian Forme of Landorus, and even Snorlax. Undoubtedly, new installments in the series will introduce new cats, and maybe one day an all-feline team will be a feasible, full-time team possibility!
Got any more suggestions for cat type Pokémon, or want to object to anyone currently on the list? Tell us in the comments!
And if you are a dog lover, be sure to check out Dogs of the Pokémon Series!