A catgirl is a female character with cat traits, such as cat ears, a cat tail, or other feline characteristics on an otherwise human body. Catgirls are found in various fiction genres and in particular Japanese anime and manga, where they are more commonly referred to as neko (猫, literally cat) or nekomimi (猫耳, literally cat ear(s)).
The portrayal of cat-girls in Japan goes back until at least 1924 when Kenji Miyazawa (Japanese author of children's literature in the early Shōwa period of Japan) created 水仙月の四日 (The 4th of narcissus month) where the first "Modern Day" Nekomimi Cat girl appears as 雪婆んご in the story, a beautiful, cat-eared woman. The first anime titled The King’s Tail (Osama no Shippo) involving cat-girls was made in 1949 by Mitsuyo Seo. Cat-girls in Japanese media were further made popular when in 1978 the series The Star of Cottonland (Wata no Kuni Hoshi) started. In America, Catwoman and Cheetah were created by DC Comics that date back to 1940. Cat-girls have since been featured in various media worldwide.
Enough of a subculture has developed for various themed conventions and events to be held around the world, such as Neko-con.