Since ancient times, the cat shape has been closely associated with athleticism and agility. It’s not surprising, then, that professional sports teams have often adopted cat-centric names to create a reputation for all-action. Let’s check out the backstories behind 10 cat-themed sports teams.
Fan action was behind the big, cat-inspired name of the Florida-based Jacksonville Jaguars. The National Football League, founded in the 1990s, held a public vote to decide whether to name the team Sharks, Stingrays, Panthers, or Jaguars. Despite choosing a winning name that is meant to instill recklessness, the franchise is still keen to successfully channel its feline power and make it into a Super Bowl. (Jaguars, you can do it – just put your claws on it!) Mascot Name: Jaxson de Ville (@thejaxsondeville)
Orlando City Football Club
The Major League Soccer Crew Orlando City is referred to by its fans as The Lions. The club’s coat of arms shows a golden lion, which represents the qualities strong, proud and stoic. The Orlando City mascot, who promotes the love of cats, is Kingston, a stocky cat whose hobbies include being a world champion matador and enjoying slow-motion runs on the beach. (@ockingston)
A member of the National Football League since 1995, it is speculated that Carolina Panther’s founding owner and former NFL player Jerry Richardson always intended the team to incorporate the word Panther into his name. Fan lore claims that six years before the franchise was announced, Richardson drove around in a car that had the PNTHRS license plate on it. The squad’s mascot is Sir Purr, a character supposed to consume six and a half gallons of milk every day. (@sirpurr)
Some avid fans of the Cincinnati Bengals claim that the National Football League team’s name is reminiscent of a Bengal tiger that was housed in the city’s zoo in 1967 when the franchise was launched. However, one competing theory focuses on honoring the original Cincinnati Bengals soccer team, which competed in the American Football League in the 30s and 40s. Either way, the franchise’s mascot, Who Dey, is named after the team’s traditional battle cry.
At first glance, the Nashville Predators have a name that is reminiscent of a kind of Netflix true crime series. However, the National Hockey League team’s nickname refers to the predatory instincts of a prehistoric smilodon saber-toothed cat that was discovered and excavated in the city in the 1970s. In a public vote, the Predators name suggested proposals that included Fury and Ice Tigers. Mascot Name: GNASH (@predsgnash)
The Florida Panthers, who compete in the National Hockey League, claim a name and logo intended to draw attention to the endangered status of the official animal of their home state. Channeling the panther’s fearsome call, an alternate version of the team’s logo shows the dominant big cat flashing its fangs and breaking a hockey stick in two. Mascot: Stanley C. Panther (@ stanleyc.panther)
There are competing theories as to the exact origins of the Detroit Tiger name, both steeped in history. A report suggests the Major League Baseball team honors the Detroit Light Guard, a local military unit nicknamed the Tigers during the Civil War. An alternative belief speculates that the name derives from the black-and-orange tiger-like stockings that players traditionally wore. Mascot: PAWS (@PAWSDetroit on twitter)
Panther City Lacrosse Club
The Panther City Lacrosse Club is a new addition to the sports clower and will debut in the 2021 National Lacrosse League season. The Fort Worth, Texas-based franchise logo pays homage to the city’s historic association with panthers: according to a column published in the Dallas Daily Herald in 1875, a slender panther appeared while overflowing the Trinity River and roamed through it Streets at night.
The American football company’s name, Detroit Lions, is associated with the city’s professional baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. After the Great Depression financially devastated the Ohio-based Portsmouth Spartans, the franchise moved to Detroit in 1934 and was renamed. The Detroit Lions name was chosen to build on the reputation of the Tigers and to collect images of the team resembling the League’s monarch. Mascot: Roary the lion (@RoaryNFL)
The four-time champions Minnesota Lynx was founded in 1999 and claims to be one of the most successful teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association. The logo of the franchise shows the team’s eponymous wildcat with a pair of characteristic tufted ears and a growling face. The team’s mascot, Prowl, specializes in the two-handed windmill dunk.