Perception of Gotoku Neko
How muggles perceive them in their ghost stories:
Gotoku neko are Japanese "youkai" (aka "spook"). They are all born shapeshifters. In their natural form are short, anthropoid felines with long tails, the tip of which constantly burns with a cold, non-consuming flame. They can also shape-shift to resemble a common house cat, or a handsome (or extremely lovely) and seductive youth of either sex. They can shapeshift at will, but the process takes some time for the metamorphosis (a few seconds), during which time they are completely vulnerable.
They can spew forth a spirit flame in a eight meter by two meter cone. The flame causes burnings, killing damage to anyone within the area of affect. In game terms it can be treated as a regular fire except that it is cold.
As with all felines, there are pads on the gotoku neko’s feet, so he moves with total stealth, as a master shinobi. In their natural form, three horns on their head, harder than any steel, are used in butting attacks.
The flame-tipped tail can also strike for fire damage, with the added possibility of igniting any flammable material it touches (4 in 6 chance). The tail can only be used to strike in a given phase if the gotoku neko is not already fighting with its hands or headbutting an opponent, as attacking with it requires concentration.
Given a chance, they will eat their victims. They especially love to target people who are cruel to cats (so teach your children to be nice to cats, otherwise the gotoku neko will come to get them). The usual lair of a gotoku neko is a common home, where they disguise themselves as common cats, although they are also fond of making their own lair near abandoned kilns or charcoal-burners and houses.
There are several myths linking gotoku neko in cat form to the birth of the maneki neko, the beckoning cat.
They lack the burning tails, but some maintain the three horns, which, depending on status and fashion, may be worked and decorated in different ways. Others have the horns either removed or made smaller. It really comes down to personal preference. The headbutting attack is not considered to be viable among gotoku neko. If they are not armed they will rather resort either to their magic skills, which includes casting without wand, or they will simply employ their superior physical attributes. They cannot spew forth “spirit flames” (a myth that may be attributed to a muggle seeing a gotoku neko in its natural form casting spells) or strike targets with their tail. The tail is not a weapon, it has turned into another tool to express fashion.
Gotoku neko, while slightly smaller than the average Japanese human, are stronger, faster and more agile than humans. They have a better night vision as well.
What is true is that gotoku neko, over the centuries have disguised themselves as cats and have infiltrated human settlements as such for thousands of years. In the feudal days those who walked among muggles and wizards alike in their human form found employment as shinobi for different feudal lords. The Koga and Iga shinobi, among many others, consisted primarily of gotoku neko and it is known in the community that famous shinobi like Hattori Hanzo and Yagyu Juubei were, in fact, of the same breed. Those used to this may even state that the human form is their natural form.
Gotoku neko can breed with humans. It's more likely for a male gotoku neko to fall for o human female than for a female gotoku neko to fall for a human male, so some would claim, but these claims are usually based on personal views. Children from such unions have a good chance to inherit the gotoku neko abilities, making it very likely for halfbloods to be full gotoku neko, since the gotoku neko genes are dominant (similar to the "magic" genes). Children of gotoku neko halfbloods and normal humans may have a strong affinity to transfiguration and towards being animagi, however it is pretty much impossible for them to shift into all three forms (some may achieve it, though, with proper training, but it's a long, hard and often painful way). Children of full gotoku neko and halfbloods are treated as full gotoku neko.
Children born of such unions shift between their natural and human form very early and usually on instinct and reflex. Only with proper training can they master it. This training takes many years. The earlier it begins, the better the results are.
They also organize in families similar to the feudal times, however their society is matriarchic. One of the most prominent gotoku neko families in Japan are the Hojo family. The Hojo are, more or less, royalty among the gotoku neko and they wield a lot of influence in the magic world of Japan and trace themselves back to the Hojo family that supported the Minamoto during the Gempei War and eventually became leaders of the Kamakura Shogunate (achieved by reducing the actual Minamoto shogun to a role similar to that of the emperor, and taking control with a regent; their most prominent member in those days was Hojo Masako, the "nun shogun").
It is important to note that gotoku neko are officially classified as magical beasts and many families are happy with that. They live their lives away from the havoc of the muggle and wizarding world. There are however families like the Hojo, Fujiwara, Uesugi and Nikaidô who have played important roles in the muggle and wizarding world. They are an example of a successful infiltration of the human society. Also, many gotoku neko posing as humans are registered as animagi to have an explanation for the cat form.
Today they exist solely on Japanese soil (two different theories suggest that they either have come originally from China, where they were subject of persecution, or are actually native to the Japanese islands; a third, rather unpopular fringe theory suggests a possible connection with ancient Egypt, its supporters bring the goddesses Bastet and Sekhmet and the worship of cats as evidence, but this is generally dismissed as fringe lunacy and nonsense) and, usually, don't venture away from there. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but there are no colonies or settlements outside of the country.
Gotoku neko share the same weaknesses as humans. They can be shot, stabbed, decapitated, incinerated, poisoned, smashed, suffocated, drowned, and so on. After all they are made of flesh, blood and bones just like humans or any other living, breathing creature. They are just, on average, somewhat stronger, faster and more agile than humans.
Since they are not humans they have a somewhat different scent than humans, even in their human forms. Werewolves and similar can, and should, notice this (and, especially outside of Japan, would maybe be confused, since gotoku neko usually don't leave the country, thus the scent may be foreign and new to werewolves and similar who haven't traveled a lot -and let's face it, for a foreign werewolf gaining access to the gotoku neko community in Japan is pretty much impossible, not to mention that foreign wizards entering Japan is even more restricted and controlled by the ministry in Kyoto than entry by muggles.) Animals like dogs can notice this too, but since gotoku neko are natural shifters and tend to have a strong affinity towards magical and mundane beasts dogs and other animals may actually not react hostile to them.
Another issue is that gotoku neko tend to react to different potions in different ways than humans. Veritaserum, for example, has not the same effect on them as on humans. They will not say the truth. They will rather experience an itching sensation and end up sneezing. Some may be able to control the sneeze attack to a certain degree, while most won't. To achieve the effect of veritaserum one needs a specific potion with ingredients such as bloodroot, mandrake and octopus powder and the right amount of wolfsbane, among others. Trying to use their hair for polyjuice potion may have uncontrollable and unexpected side effects.