|Anime||Naruto Shippūden Episode #189|
Nekomata (猫又, Nekomata) is a giant cat and the boss of the ninja cat underworld.
During Sasuke Uchiha's childhood, Itachi Uchiha made a game of collecting paw prints of quick, nimble cats from a normal cat to a lion and the last paw print to be collected was Nekomata's. Itachi once defeated Nekomata and his ninja cats and requested him to fight Sasuke with all his might when he got older.
Nekomata is the leader of the ninja cats, and as such is a powerful ninja cat himself. He has displayed great strength and speed. He is able to shrink himself in order to draw less attention, and is a capable genjutsu user.
Konoha History Arc
Team 7 was assigned to get Nekomata's paw print and infiltrated his fortress. The team was split up during the infiltration. Sasuke was the first to find Nekomata, challenged him but Nekomata seemed to be too much for him until Naruto Uzumaki and Sakura Haruno arrived and saved him. Sasuke then told his two team-mates he didn't need to be saved and revealed dozens of kunai with explosive tags on the ceiling above Nekomata and detonated them, having the ceiling on top of him collapse. With Nekomata defeated, Sasuke collected the last paw print for the Paw Encyclopaedia.
Three years later, Nekomata visited Nekobaa to buy tools from her and sees a picture of Sasuke with his paw print, reminiscing of his battle with Sasuke.
Cats are the common species throughout the world, and stories of bakeneko (化け猫, monster cats) are popular throughout Japan. In myth, when a cat reaches a certain age, it grows larger, and its tail becomes longer and forks in two, and is then called a nekomata (猫俣, forked-cat). These cats were said to have the ability to manipulate the dead like as if they were puppets, and had been associated with strange fires and occurrences.