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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Animal Ears, Catgirls & Catboys
Related tropes/genresAnimal Transformation
See alsoMoe, Furry
Related articles on Fanlore.

Kemonomimi (獣耳 or けものみみ, animal ears) are characters who have animal ears, commonly paired with an animal tail, from a variety of kemonomimi families. The ears are mainly part of the character's anatomy, although sometimes they can be extensions, such as a headband, and sometimes they can have them in addition to human ears. The appearance of the kemonomimi ears and tail is based on the family of each kemonomimi. A big part of kemonomimi is being cute or moe, and fans love it because "everything can be improved by drawing cat ears and a tail on it."[1] Kemonomimi can be a canon character design, but it's also a common fan activity to draw human characters with animal ears.

Kemonomimi is a Japanese term used mostly in anime/manga fandom, but adding animal ears and tails to characters happens in many other fandoms as well.

Transforming characters into kemonomimi is not the same thing as animal transformation since kemonomimi characters are still human. For the same reason, kemonomimi are generally distinct from furry fandom since they're still human, not anthropomorphic animals. But there's a large amount of overlap as well.

Catboys and Catgirls

Cat ears are the most common type of kemonomimi, and characters with cat ears are known as catboys and catgirls, or nekomimi (猫耳, cat ears).

Catboys and catgirls are also popular in non-Japanese fandoms. The character may just have ears and tail, or may display a host of other cat-like characteristics. The Cat and The Fiddle by Nellie and Pavlov's Bell by whiskyrunner are two popular Inception examples. Indeed, Arthur as a catboy is a a popular meme. Catboy fic is a popular trope in Harry/Draco (Harry Potter), see Hidders list of catboy fic.

In Canon

  • Kemonomimi is used as a "stylistic quirk" in manga: a character might momentarily be drawn with cat-like features to show excitability or mischievousness.[2]
  • On Wikipedia: List of catgirls (includes catboys)
  • The universe of RWBY has a race of people known as the Faunus, who look like humans and have one animal trait, e.g. animal ears, horns, or a tail, but never more than one. One of the protagonists, Blake Belladonna, has cat ears. AUs in which human characters are Faunus or Faunus have more than one animal trait are common.
  • The BL manga Loveless features an otherwise similar world to ours, but people are born with cat ears and tails, only to shed them when they lose their virginity.

In Fanworks

Turning canon characters in kemonomimi is common in anime/manga fanworks, especially visual ones such as as fanart and doujinshi. It can be done in-story through transformation, with an alternate universe, or very commonly with no explanation at all.


  • In Naruto, the lead character has a nine-tailed demon fox, the Kyuubi, inside him which canonically manifests (rather destructively). In fandom, sometime Naruto becomes a kemonomimi Kyuubi!Naruto (or fox!Naruto) with fox ears and tails; sometimes the Kyuubi is depicted in a human form with fox ears and tail, separate from Naruto. Examples: Uchiha Nyanko Hiyori, a million others...
  • Following the release of X-Men: First Class, there's a meme for creating manips or fanart of James McAvoy (who plays Charles Xavier) with cat ears and tail, called Catavoy. Examples: [1], [2], [3], [4].
    • Catavoy has been referred to as Nyacavoy (ニャカヴォイ, with nya meaning meow) in Japanese, but this term seems to be in limited use and made in response to the English-language meme on Tumblr. Japanese fans generally don't refer to it by any particular term.[3]
    • This meme also involves Michael Fassbender (Magneto), called Fassycat. [5] [6] They've also been combined as McFassycat.
  • In Beyblade fandom, both fanart and fic featuring Ray, Mariah and the other members of White Tiger Team as "neko-jin", cat-people, with ears, tails etc. is very common. Some characteristics similar to cats are canon (eyes, teeth, bit-beasts), and fannish interpretation of how cat-like they are varies wildly.
  • The Nekoma team in Haikyuu is associated with cat symbolism, making catboy works a natural development.
  • Yuri Plisetsky from Yuri on Ice is associated with cats.

External Resources


  1. ^ Original quote by rageundserenity on Tumblr was in caps, and addressed to McFassy fandom: "YOU GUYS UNDERSTAND THAT EVERYTHING CAN BE IMPROVED BY DRAWING CAT EARS AND A TAIL ON IT."
  2. ^ In plenty of manga, and stated by Wikipedia.
  3. ^ The examples on Pixiv are tagged for Erik/Charles (エリチャ) or X-men First Class, but nothing about cats or kemonomimi.