Going back to ancient times, the feline form has been closely associated with athleticism and agility. So it’s no surprise that professional sports teams have frequently taken on cat-centric names to help cultivate an all-action reputation. Let’s dig into the back stories behind 10 cat-themed sports teams.
Fan action was behind the big catinspired name of the Florida-based Jacksonville Jaguars. Founded in the 1990s, the National Football League outfit held a public vote to decide whether to call the team the Sharks, the Stingrays, the Panthers or the Jaguars. Despite selecting a winning name designed to convey ruthlessness, the franchise is still striving to successfully channel its cat power and make it to a Super Bowl. (Jaguars, you can do it — just put your claws to it!) Mascot name: Jaxson de Ville (@thejaxsondeville)
Orlando City Soccer Club
Major League Soccer crew the Orlando City is known by its fans as The Lions. The club’s crest depicts a golden lion, representing the qualities of being strong, proud and stoic. Furthering the feline love, Orlando City’s mascot is Kingston, a burly cat who counts being a world-champion matador and enjoying slow-motion runs on the beach among his hobbies. (@ockingston)
Members of the National Football League since 1995, it’s speculated that Carolina Panthers founding owner and former NFL player Jerry Richardson always intended the team would incorporate the word panther into its name. Fan lore claims Richardson even cruised around in a car showcasing the license plate “PNTHRS” six years before the franchise was announced. The squad’s mascot is Sir Purr, a character who is said to consume six-and-a-half gallons of milk every day. (@sirpurr)
Some dedicated fans of the Cincinnati Bengals maintain the National Football League team’s name nods to a Bengal tiger that was housed at the city’s zoo back in 1967, when the franchise was founded. But a competing theory focuses on honoring the original Cincinnati Bengals football team, who 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.
On a first glance, the Nashville Predators sports a name that brings to mind some sort of Netflix true crime series. However, the National Hockey League team’s moniker refers to the predatory instincts of a prehistoric Smilodon saber-toothed feline discovered and dug up in the city in the 1970s. In a public vote, the name Predators beat out suggestions that included Fury and Ice Tigers. Mascot name: GNASH (@predsgnash)
Competing in the National Hockey League, the Florida Panthers claim a name and a logo intended to bring attention to the endangered status of its home state’s official animal. Channeling the panther’s fearsome reputation, an alternative version of the team’s logo stars the dominating big cat flashing his fangs and snapping a hockey stick in two. Mascot: Stanley C. Panther (@stanleyc.panther)
There are competing theories about the precise origins of the Detroit Tigers’s name, both steeped in history. One account suggests the Major League Baseball team is honoring the Detroit Light Guard, a local military unit with the nickname the Tigers back in Civil War times. 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
A new addition to the sports clowder, the Panther City Lacrosse Club will debut in the 2021 season of the National Lacrosse League. Situated in Fort Worth, Texas, the franchise’s impactful purple-hued logo gives homage to the city’s historical association with panthers: According to a column published in the Dallas Daily Herald in 1875, when the Trinity River overflowed a sleek panther emerged and prowled the streets at night.
The name of the Detroit Lions American football venture connects to the city’s professional baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. After the Great Depression wreaked financial havoc on the Ohio-based Portsmouth Spartans, the franchise moved to Detroit in 1934 and rebranded. The name Detroit Lions was selected to build on the reputation of the Tigers, plus drum up images of the team being akin to the monarch of the league. Mascot: Roary the Lion (@RoaryNFL)
Formed in 1999, four-time champions the Minnesota Lynx hold a claim as one of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s most successful teams. The franchise’s logo stars the squad’s namesake wild cat sporting a pair of signature tufted ears and a snarling visage. The team’s mascot, Prowl, specializes in the two-handed windmill dunk.