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A shadowcat, by Kevin Catalan ©
Varamyr Sixskins with his shadowcat and shadowskin cloak, by Elena María Vacas

Shadowcats are large felines that are found throughout Westeros, from the lands beyond the Wall,[1] to the Mountains of the Moon,[2][3][4] to the northern Riverlands,[5] to the Red Mountains of Dorne.[6]

Shadowcats have thick black fur with white stripes.[3][7][8] Shadowskin is the name for the pelts of shadowcats, often worn as fur cloaks.[3]

There is also a constellation of stars named the Shadowcat.[9]


See also: Images of Shadowcats

Shadowcats are fearsome predators, but will also scavenge.[3][1][10] In size, they are somewhere in between real world tigers and mountain lions.[11] Their eyes glow in the dark,[12] and their claws are known to be very sharp.[13] Shadowcats have sharp curved front teeth, and a lashing tail.[14]

It's said that shadowcats can smell blood six miles away. They will eat every shred of meat from a kill, and will even crack the bones to get at the marrow.[1] Shadowcats tend to not attack living men unless very starved.[12][15]

Shadowskin fur cloaks are prized.[14] The fur is warm and thick.[16]


Some believe that in ancient days, the children of the forest resided in "tree towns" high above the ground to avoid predators such as shadowcats, which their stone weapons and greenseers were not proof against.[17]

Matteno Orthys was a Lyseni who was a fervent worshipper of the cat-goddess Pantera, and kept a prized shadowcat. In 135 AC, during the bloody power struggle in Lys after the downfall of the Rogare family, the shadowcat's cage was unaccountably left open one night, and the cat mauled and partly devoured him.[18]

Briar was a wildling skinchanger who controlled a shadowcat. She inspired Varamyr Sixskins to also control a shadowcat, along with several other animals.[8] He would use his shadowcat to stalk women he wished to have sex with, forcing them to come to him.[19] Varamyr also wore a shadowskin cloak.[14]

Some time between 283 AC and 288 AC, when Mance Rayder was still a member of the Night's Watch, he and his brothers once hunted an elk, and the smell of blood attracted a shadowcat. The shadowcat attacked Mance, shredding his cloak, his arm, and his back. The Watchmen brought him to a local wildling village where a wise woman healed him, and sewed up the tears in his cloak with red silk from Asshai. After Mance returned to the Wall, Ser Denys Mallister told him to burn his old cloak and replace it with an entirely black one. This infringement of his freedom caused Mance to abandon the Night's Watch.[10]

Recent Events

A shadowcat in the snow - by Veronica V. Jones. © Fantasy Flight Games

A Game of Thrones

While riding along the Trident, Joffrey Baratheon and Sansa Stark track a shadowcat to its lair.[5]

Along the high road in the Mountains of the Moon, Catelyn Stark and her party (including the captive Tyrion Lannister) are worried about the shadowcats that live in the passes.[2][3] The party is attacked by Vale mountain clansmen, led by a man wearing a shadowskin cloak.[3] After the battle with the clansmen, the survivors leave the corpses to be scavenged by shadowcats, despite Catelyn's objections.[3]

The singer Marillion somehow acquires the dead chief's shadowskin cloak,[3] but Tyrion wins the cloak from him at dice.[20] In the Sky Cells of the Eyrie, the gaoler Mord takes the shadowskin cloak from Tyrion; but once Tyrion wins his freedom, he takes it back.[16] He wears it for warmth while in the mountains after he leaves the Eyrie.[21]

A Clash of Kings

When Tyrion arrives in King's Landing to take the role of acting Hand of the King, he is still wearing his shadowskin cloak.[7] He wears it for warmth in the underground vaults of the Guildhall of the Alchemists.[22]

While making his way through Skirling Pass with Qhorin Halfhand, Dalbridge, Ebben, and Stonesnake, Jon Snow watches a shadowcat stalk a ram, flowing down the mountainside like liquid smoke until it was ready to pounce. Jon wishes he could move as sure and silent as that shadowcat, and kill as quickly.[1]

After Jon captures Ygritte, she asks if he will burn her body after he kills her; when Jon says he can't light a fire because it might be seen, she says there's worse places to end up than the belly of a shadowcat.[1]

In the pass, Jon hears the scream of a shadowcat and thinks he sees one's glowing eyes.[12] A half-starved shadowcat comes snarling from its lair and spooks Stonesnake's horse; she breaks a leg, and they have to kill her. Ghost eats most of the horse, the men take some of the meat and leave the rest for the shadowcats.[15]

Later, Qhorin and Jon hide in a cave behind a waterfall. Qhorin tells Jon that when he was young, a Night's Watchman had told him how he had followed a shadowcat through the falls.[15]

A Storm of Swords

Ghost becomes aggressive whenever he sees Varamyr Sixskins's shadowcat.[8]

From the top of the Wall, looking down into the wildlings' camp with Maester Aemon's Myrish eye, Jon sees Varamyr walking through the trees with his shadowcat.[23]

When the wildling camp is attacked by Stannis Baratheon's army, Varamyr's shadowcat prevents Jon from entering Mance Rayder's tent to search for the Horn of Winter.[14] But in the agony of Orell's eagle's death, Varamyr Sixskins loses control of his shadowcat, which races into the woods.[14]

A Dance with Dragons

Varamyr Sixskins remembers how when he was a boy, he had seen the wildling skinchanger Briar with her shadowcat and wanted one for himself. He remembers that when he wished to have sex with a woman from the villages near his home, he would send his shadowcat to stalk her, and she would come, often crying. He also recalls how his shadowcat used to fight him violently when he would skinchange into it, but discovers it is even more difficult to take control of a human being.[19]

Jon Snow remembers how Mance Rayder had compared some of the free folk to shadowcats, saying that "one kind prowls where they please and will tear your dogs to pieces."[24]


A low rumbling growl echoed off the rock. Shadowcat, Jon knew at once. As he rose he heard another, closer at hand. He pulled his sword and turned, listening.[1]

In their midst, riding on a tall red horse in a strange high saddle that cradled him back and front, was the queen's dwarf brother Tyrion Lannister, the one they called the Imp. He had let his beard grow to cover his pushed-in face, until it was a bristly tangle of yellow and black hair, coarse as wire. Down his back flowed a shadowskin cloak, black fur striped with white.[7]