Mew: Cat and Mouse

A cat with a vaguely distressed expression and fur that has been dyed pink
A poor cat with dyed pink fur

Mew's design is most obviously based on a house cat, as made clear by its name being an onomatopoeia for a cat's meow. This influence is especially noticeable in Mew's pointy ears, face shape, tail, paw pads, and large, digitigrade hind feet. In the anime, Mew is shown as being curious, mischievous, and aloof, which also might also draw on this inspiration, as cats tend to be infamous for possessing these character traits.

A two-legged kitty playing with purple cat-toys and being snuggly
This two-legged kitty even plays with Shadow Balls when it is not too busy being snuggly!

Given Mew's proportions, with large hind feet but tiny front limbs, real life cats that remind me the most of Mew are those that have unfortunately lost their front limbs, either from an accident or a congenital deformity. These cats, however, aren't held back, and, instead, they have learned their own ways to walk and move around. In the process, they end up hopping like bunnies, stalking like a T-rex, and overall looking incredibly like Mew.

While the cat is the least arguable animal influence in Mew's design, other creatures may have played a role. Various rodents may have also been an inspiration in creating Mew.

A jerboa hopping by

For instance, I cannot see a jerboa without thinking of Mew. Jerboas are rodents specially adapted for hopping through the desert: they have fine fur, long hind legs and feet, short front arms, and a long tail with a tuft on the end -- so they have a similar body plan to Mew. These little rodents are capable of jumping up to three feet into the air, whipping their tails for more lift, so they can even appear to almost be flying , looking very similar to Mew floating around.

I find it a bit funny that the top animal influences I see in Mew's design are that of a feline and that of a rodent -- animals that are often thought of as opposed. The English expression of "cat and mouse" is also fitting for Mew. This phrase describes an eternal stalemate, where neither the cat nor the mouse is ever victorious. The mouse is too evasive to be easily caught by the cat, yet it cannot overcome the cat. Meanwhile, the cat is strong and may occasionally have the opportunity to defeat the mouse, but it will refrain from doing so, letting the mouse temporarily slip away in order to prolong the struggle, which the cat sees merely as a game.

Mew dodging whenever Meowth tries to catch sight of it.
Mew playing the role of the mouse (ironically enough) with Meowth

Mew can fit in the role of the cat, in that it has strength that it does not often use, preferring to play with those around it, even those who are hostile toward it. Mew has great powers, against which all would be helpless if Mew ever decided to unleash those powers. However, it is because Mew is so untouchable and strong, it can see us all as nothing more than nonthreatening playthings -- and why interrupt the fun!

On the other hand, Mew can also take on the role of the mouse, quick to flee and nearly impossible to catch, utilizing its teleportation, invisibility, shape-shifting, and myriad other powers to often completely evade detection, let alone capture. You can even put the spin on it that the mouse derives perverse amusement from outwitting the cat, like Jerry, the somewhat sadistic mouse counterpart of the famous "cat and mouse" pair from the cartoon Tom & Jerry. Mew does seem to enjoy floating around just out of sight and giggling madly while dodging fierce attacks . So, no matter which role Mew is in, when playing cat and mouse, Mew is always having fun.

The idea of cat and mouse (and a literal cat and mouse) are just some of the important influences on Mew's design. On the next page, I discuss how I think Mew is also based on an embryo and the outdated scientific theory of recapitulation.


  1. From Jump in Jerboas YouTube Link

  2. Mew enjoying itself as Team Rocket keeps failing to catch a glimpse of it.

  3. Mew having the time of its life as it teleports to dodge Mewtwo's attacks.