A bakeneko is, in Japanese folklore, a cat with supernatural abilities akin to those of the fox or raccoon dog. A cat may become a bakeneko in a number of ways: it may reach a certain age, be kept for a certain number of years, grow to a certain size, or be allowed to keep a long tail. In the last case, the tail forks in two and the bakeneko is then called a nekomata. This superstition may have some connection to the breeding of the Japanese Bobtail.
"Incarnations of long-living cats in Japanese mythology. They can speak to humans and, depending on their power, can do various things. Some can turn into humans, while others can have the dead do their bidding."
—Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Compendium
Nekomata can evolve into Senri upon reaching level 27.
"The supernatural incarnation of a cat who has lived to an extraordinary age. The time it takes for a cat to become a Nekomata ranges from 10 years to 40 years depending on the source. The name "Nekomata" comes from the Japanese word for "cat straddling," referring to a ritual where a cat would straddle someone to lay a curse on that person. Nekomata understand and can speak human language. They are distinguished by their forked tails. They sometimes take human form, in some cases changing into women and seducing and eating men. On the other hand, they are faithful to their owners and will avenge them if their owners die tragically. Nekomata are thought to have originated from Xian Li, fairies of Chinese folklore. Some say that Nekomata who posses vast magical power become Xian Li."
—Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE Compendium
Nekomata appear within the bronze instance of Suginami Tunnels. They act as NPCs within the gold and unknown instances. Players are able to acquire a Nekomata tail and female players can dress completely like a Nekomata. The NPC called Nora in Shinjuku Babel is known for dressing as a Nekomata.
"Long-lived cats are said to transform into these malevolent cat demons, and are distinguishable by their partially forked tails. They can speak human languages, and their powers vary according to how long they lived, and how cruelly they were treated in life. Their abilities range from shape-shifting to controlling the dead."
In the 3DS remake, a variant Nekomata is available from Nemechi, unlocked with the octopus form. She costs 100 D-Souls and uses her artwork from Shin Megami Tensei II & and the Devil Survivor series. This Neko can use strong wind magic.
Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless ArmyEdit
"Cats that live a long life are said to become these. They can speak human languages. Their power vary according to how long they lived, ranging from shape-shifting to controlling the dead."
"A cat spirit with a split tail. It has gained magic powers over its long life."
—Persona 2: Innocent Sin Profile
Nekomata is the first Persona of the Hermit Arcana and can be summoned in the Velvet Room once Tatsuya Suou has reached Level 9 and collected 56 Hermit Arcana Tarot Cards. Upon being returned to the Velvet Room at MAX Rank, Nekomata yields the Kitty Claws weapon for Lisa Silverman.
As a Persona, there's no difference in comparison to Innocent Sin, however, the Nekomata of Eternal Punishment is brown, and the one in Innocent Sin is white. A special Rumormonger Nekomata appears as a NPC in the Kuzunoha Detective Agency. To unlock the Rumormonger Nekomata, the player must donate 100,000 yen to the cat statue in Kuzunoha Detective Agency.
"Incarnations of long-lived cats in Japanese mythology. They have various powers, including human speech and control over the dead."
—Persona 3 FES Compendium
Nekomata returns in Persona 3, but under the Magician Arcana, where she can be summoned once the Protagonist is at level 5. Her skill set specializes in Fire and Physical attacks as well as negative effects. You can obtain her by fusing Pixie and Apsaras.
"Long-lived cats are said to become these. They can take the form of human women. When a pet cat lives for 50 years, it becomes a Nekomata. The name comes from its tail, which is split in two. They can speak human languages, and there are tales of them telling humans about themselves. They can stand on two feet and even dance."
The only Megaten games with an American release to portray the folkloric forked-tail are Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, and DemiKids: Light & Dark Version.