In A Song of Ice and Fire, there are references to shadowcats north of the Wall and in the Vale of Arryn. Are these supposed to be alternate names for a real feline, such as a puma or a lynx, or are they entirely fictional beasts?

  • 2
    Maybe Martin is a Kitty Pryde fan? Shadowcat being the only super-hero name she used for an extended period of time.
    – RDFozz
    Jan 18, 2018 at 18:36

4 Answers 4


It is a fictional animal and they are supposed to look like tigers or mountain lions, but with black fur.

So Spake Martin:

-Αre shadowcats closer in size to tigers or mountain lions?

-Somewhere in between.

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  • 3
    For what it's worth, the current photo looks more like a darkly-colored lynx to me. Jun 11, 2014 at 23:04
  • Bred for its skills in magic, one assumes. Sep 15, 2021 at 12:58

I always thought that it is like a black panther?

Black Panther

  • Panther is a type of cat, there's no one animal called 'black panther'. I believe that's a picture of a jaguar, not sure though
    – Lou
    Jun 11, 2014 at 15:50
  • 6
    @alexwlchan "a panther" is not a species of cat, it's a horribly-misused name for a bunch of different cats. Depending on where you live, a panther might be a cougar (not to be confused with a mountain lion), a jaguar, or a leopard. A quick google image search turns up this same photo named "puma", which implies that it's a black cougar, but up close all three look very similar.
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 11, 2014 at 17:10
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    More importantly, is there a reason why you (Stilgar) believe this to be the case?
    – phantom42
    Jun 11, 2014 at 17:25
  • 1
    @MichaelEdenfield: And the Panthera genus includes lions and tigers, too.
    – rodrigo
    Jun 11, 2014 at 22:31
  • 1
    @rodrigo that's true, but I don't think the term "panther" as a common name is used for lions and tigers; alternatively, "panther" is a common name for the cougar, which is not in Panthera but Puma.
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:42

Perhaps a type of large Lynx? The fur outstresching from the sides of the face, cheeks, and ears, are common amongst lynx broods.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you provide a source for this distinctive look? What you describe is similar to a lynx; can you quote this description from one of the books or something JRRM has written?
    – DavidW
    Dec 23, 2019 at 5:28

Hmm. Shadowcats? I suspect a creature that appears much like a snow leopard. Long tail. Solitary in nature, generally, until it comes time to mate. Snow leopards are perhaps the most elusive of the large cats. They live high in the Andes mountains and rarely see one another, leave scent markings for one another - just as domestic, feral and any large cats. They have stripes and are nearly as large as tigers. George RR Martin could give the best answer.

  • 8
    Hi, welcome to the site. Do you have any evidence that this was George R. R. Martin's intention? Because this answer sounds a lot like a guess, and we generally prefer answers posted here to be based on at least some evidence, rather than pure guesswork. You might want to take the tour, to learn more aboiut the site. Sep 15, 2021 at 0:43

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