I am doing a group of life forms based (with some degree of looseness,) around Folklore and Tall Tales, esp. of the American West and Midwest.
The Following is based on the Cactus Cat, Found Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cactus_cat (research more)
Standing slightly taller than a Lynx at the Shoulder, the Cactus Cat or Wampus Hasta, is ____________________. Resembling and distantly related to the large cats, W. Hasta is covered primarily in wiry brown fur, like that of desert hares. On it's tail, hindlegs, back, and elongated ears, this hair extends into prickly, porcupine-like spines. Despite this fearsome appearance, the Cactus Cat has largely shrugged its predatory roots. Though it eats small mammals when it can catch them, its diet consists primarily of fermented cactus juice. At night, the creature wanders about the desert, slashing cacti and storing the the juices in cheek pouches. The juice is carried back to the cats den, usually a small cave or a burrow dug and abandoned by another creature, and allowed to ferment. When the process is completed, W. Hasta will drink the resultant alcohol, and usually in a drunken fervor, leave its den yowling and screeching, often attacking anything in sight (inanimate objects not withstanding.)
Because humans themselves produce alcohol, it is not at all unknown for Cactus Cats, either individually or even en masse, to raid human alcohol stores. Distilleries and breweries in areas Cactus Cats are known to abound will often pay handsomely for pelts, or other proof of a slain animal. Despite being rather small, the cat has been known to inflict lethal injury, though this is somewhat uncommon, as a cat is more likely to stab the invader with its quills and run off. Because the cats live in burrows, inexperienced hunters will often lean over the opening when attempting to draw the animal out, usually resulting in a quick quill to the face. In fact, the native Pokokwe phrase "Ho'ötokuitw" (Lit. quill face) is used to refer to a foolish hunter, or any other general varity of moron.
W. Hasta is known for its characteristically tough, wiry, and dry meat. Despite its unappealing texture, it has a rich, gamey flavor, making it a delicacy in some areas. Cactus Cat recipes usually call for alcohol made from fermented Cacti or other succulents. It is usually made into soup to conteract its dryness, and it is always cooked slowly to help tenderize the meat.
Called Tongyaw by the Pokokwe, the Cactus Cat is a prominent member of the Kacha, their animist, totemic pantheon. On important holidays, Pokokwe adults dress up as the Kacha figures that they are connected to at birth. Those connected to the Tongyaw wander the streets on these holidays, drinking and giving gifts to children.
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