A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Mythical Ball-Tailed Cat of North America

Ball-Tailed Cat
 Our subject today is the mythical North American feline known as the ball-tailed cat (Felis caudaglobosa—and no, we’re not entirely sure why a fictional creature has a scientific name or who so named it). The ball-tailed cat was a sort of wildcat similar to a mountain lion, only with a “hardy heavy, bony ball on the end of its tail” (Tryon, p. 7). We haven’t been able to find out the original range of this feline, but woodsmen around the turn of the 20th century traded tales of the creature, so we deduce that it lived primarily in wooded areas. Henry Harrington Tryon wrote in the 1930s that
recent surveys indicate that it is now pretty well confined to Harney County, Oregon, and Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. (p. 7)
The cat had a unique hunting method, lying in wait on a tree limb, only to drop down onto someone passing by (usually a lumberjack) and pound the victim to death with its ball. For a male cat, the ball was multipurpose: the cat could drum it against a hollow log to try to attract females.

Where did stories of such a creature originate? This is another thing we don’t know (add it to the list!). We speculate that perhaps a woodsman encountered a mountain lion with an abscess or tumor on its tail, and one thing led to another—but we doubt such a cat tried to beat the man to death with its tail. And yes, we made up everything in that last sentence, so don’t go quoting it as fact. Could be lumberjacks are just really good at making stuff up.

Dingmaul, aka Digmaul or Dimaul
A dimaul, dingmaul, or digmaul.
The Monster Blog of Monsters reports that “magizoologists” have noted the similarity between the ball-tailed cat’s tail and that of the dinosaur Ankylosaurus, which is thought to have used the mass on its tail “in defence and threat displays.” Some of these magizoologists even think that the ball-tailed cat could be related to Ankylosaurus, “but they are generally regarded as being quite, quite bonkers.” We would have to agree.

The fearsome silver cat
A silver cat. Apparently they liked
to hang upside down from branches.
Similar mythical felines include the digmaul (which we have also found spelled “dingmaul” or “dimaul”) and the silver cat. The silver cat sounds particularly fearsome, as the ball in its tail featured a smooth side for beating things and a spiked side for hanging on to them. You wouldn’t want to run into one of those in the woods, now would you?

Picture credit: All images are from Tryon’s book Fearsome Critters, illustrated by Margaret R. Tryon. [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.


 Ball-Tailed Cat,” Wikipedia, last edited 27 May 2018.

Craig Chaddock, “Ball-TailedCat,” The Monster Blog of Monsters.

Henry H. Tryon, Fearsome Critters (70th anniversary hypertext ed., http://www.lumberwoods.com/p7.htm; originally published 1939 by Idlewild Press).


  1. How interesting! We'd never heard of dat!

  2. Lumberjacks, out in the lonely woods, maybe having a sip of sumfin' alcoholic...telling tales around the bunkhouse to scare to new guys!

  3. Well it isn't found in Connecticut, we have the glauwackus cat instead.

  4. This is SO cool! We're amazed by the fun cat-related topics you manage to find and present in such an interesting fashion :)

  5. This is one I have never heard of before.

  6. I have to say those lumberjacks really need to cut down (no pun intended) on the beer consumption! Amazing how a simple thing such as an abscess or maybe the cat having swallowed a large ball and it having worked its way doe to the tail, have been so distorted!
    Toodle pips and purrs