In hindsight, I have always been feline. Feline in the anthropomorphized way (Feline). Sly, purring, independent and choosy. I have also been feline in the way it is meant to be- (feline) acting cat-like in my movements and vocalizations; feeling hunting urges when seeing typical 'prey' animals- and the way I feel an urge to hunt being in the same style as my feline counterparts. Always feline. When I was younger, this manifested itself in pretending I was a cat in order to face situations I found daunting, putting on a different cat persona (this was before I joined the furry community but is very similar to it.) I would combat anxiety, certain pressures and stresses from my family and life in general through channeling this cat-ishness. Of course, that's not to say you should introspect based on anthropomorphic traits, merely that that was, by happy coincidence, how I turned out to be.
I first looked to Clouded leopards. This was before I even knew what therianthropy was, and before I'd joined any forums. I attached to them based on feel and how they looked. There was no research and no further thought. I saw them; I liked them, I chose them. They were quickly dropped once I joined Therian Guide and learned some more. My next endeavor was the wildcat. They seemed right- and Scotland was one of my favorite places, so surely it would make sense? Again, not much research was done by me into their actual traits and habits. They didn't last too long either, so I ditched them because they were uncomfortable to identify as and made absolutely no sense. I put my theriotype searching on the back burner, choosing to concentrate on more immediate worries like exams and my dogs.
When I finally had time to sit down and properly look, I started to be more logical. I made three lists- canine traits, feline traits, and ambiguous traits. (I'll post my list below). I researched every single 'small' cat.
Every single one.
None of them seemed to fit- the vocalization or the way they hunted or their general attitude was wrong. I didn't know what to do- at the time, I didn't like lions because they seemed mainstream and boring. I only looked at their behavior when a friend asked me to help find their type.
But, when I did... It all fit.
I could check things off my list that had before been a mystery, and the euphoric feeling of "That's me!" hit like a train. But I was wary, not wanting to fall into previous traps of getting stuck in too soon I looked at all the big cats in depth. Over another couple of months, I narrowed it down- lion or jaguar. I remember distinctly crossing off the snow leopard due to it's long, fluffy tail. All phantom tails I had experienced were sinewy and fairly thin-furred. What made the difference, for me, was a few things. Jaguars had the wrong head shape and hunting style- one important trait of the Jaguar is that they kill prey by biting the back of its skull. I thought this was an urge I experienced but after watching videos of jaguars hunting in action and realizing I had misunderstood the back of the head for the back of the neck, I realized I was mistaken. I did not experience this urge and it seemed like a rather important one to have. Furthermore, jaguars live in a habitat that far from entices me. The Savannah, on the hand, seems like a desirable place for me to live. Another member, Gray Pool, also kindly directed me to some essays (http://akhila.feralscribes.org/pawprints/
) written by Kusani, another lioness therian. Our perceptions of the world were eerily similar. "Lioness" was a skin that seemed effortless to put on, perhaps because I was not putting it on, merely noticing its existence.
But what about my canine type?
For a long time, I thought I was a Mexican wolf therian. Even when little, I just "knew" I was a wolf. I was very vocal about that, something I regret now as people thought and do think I'm a little crazy and off in the head.
The evidence was certainly there
- the size and shape of my phantom shifts, my behavior, my mentality towards other people and how I viewed certain people, an attraction to their habitat and so on. However, a few things didn't add up. The primary indicator was a strong herding instinct- which I've had since I was quite young- that I pinned down to meaning I actually had a shepherd dog type. So, for about a month I researched and identified as an Australian shepherd. However, I'm sure a few people will understand the feeling of it not feeling "right". The identity didn't -couldn't- stick. But, somehow, for some reason, I was an anomaly. No canines I had found were like me- wild, yet tame. Wolfish, but also doggish and dingo-ish and coyote-ish and many other canine -ish's that just didn't seem to make sense. Someone did say to me, well, perhaps you're a cladotherian? But I ignored them, determined to find my species. I didn't want to be a cladotherian, I denied it, wanting something more solid and relatable to the rest of the therian community. So I researched. I made lists; I introspected, I looked online, I enlisted help from other canine therians. I was in despair; nothing was working! I knew I was canine, in the same way that I know I'm a female. It made sense, but at the moment things simply were not adding up. I made fact files for different canines and dog breeds. German Shepherd had fit well but... it didn't feel right. I knew it wouldn't stick.
In the end, I realized that I had been blind. My solution had been practically handed on a silver platter. I had just been choosing to ignore it. I had even said, previously, that my behaviors were simply too general to pin down! I decided to put my reluctance to the side, and accepted who i was. With my acceptance came relief, I took on the label, and have been happily wearing it ever since.
I still doubt my theriotypes, and I still do research. I will never stop doing that.
MY LISTS (there are rough and a little misguided in places, please forgive that as they were for personal use and make sense to me personally.)
- Head rubbing
- purring (happy growling?)
- hunting instincts
- tail phantom
- playing in a cat like fashion
- body feels like it should be bigger
- feeling of ‘thats me’
^ can relate heavily to these- lioness?
At home on savanna, and on mountain tops like Scotland (although poss. a human trait)
- canine like play
- play bowing
- cravings for small animals
- constant need to be doing something (this could be human but it is much more prominent when shifted and it doesn’t fit my human personality so I’m attributing it to canine)
- teeth baring when annoyed
- pack kinship
- wolf dreams
- unconscious placement of peers into subordinate or dominant
- phantom tail follows scientifically accepted wolf body posture
- feeling of ’that’s me’
- instinctually protective of people and animals deemed pack- wary of those not included in ‘pack’
- https://animalcorner.co.uk/wolf-behaviour/ this link states several behavioral habits of wolves in certain positions- I assume all these positions instinctively when in the respective situations.
- meat cravings
- urge to walk on all fours
- fur preening