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Meowth is a small, feline Pokémon with cream-colored fur that turns brown at the tips of its hind paws and tail. Its ovoid head features four prominent whiskers, wide eyes with slit pupils, two pointed teeth in the upper jaw, and a gold oval coin embedded in its forehead. Its ears are black with brown interiors, and are flanked with an additional pair of long whiskers. Meowth is a quadruped with the ability to walk on its hind legs; while the games always depict Meowth on two legs, the anime states that Meowth normally walks on all fours. It can freely manipulate its claws, retracting them when it wants to move silently. The tip of its tail curls tightly.
Meowth is attracted to round and shiny objects, and has the unique ability to produce coins using Pay Day. It is known to wander about city streets and pick up anything that that sparkles, including loose change. Upon finding a sparkling object, its eyes will glitter and the coin on its forehead will shine brightly. Meowth is a playful Pokémon with the capacity for human-like intelligence, with at least one member of the species teaching itself how to speak. Meowth tends to live in urban areas.
- Niue released a one-dollar coin featuring Meowth as part of a commemorative promotion for the Pokémon franchise, with Meowth on one side and the nation's coat of arms on the other.
- In the Pokémon anime episode Go West, Young Meowth, it was stated that Meowth of Team Rocket had to learn and practice standing on his hind legs like a human, implying that Meowth as a species are not naturally able to stand on their hind legs. However, almost all sprites in the games and the Pokédex in the anime depict it standing on its hind legs, suggesting Meowth has the natural ability to walk on two legs. Tyson's Meowth is also able to walk on two legs, seemingly naturally.
- Meowth is the first Pokémon in the Pokémon anime to talk.
- The charm on Meowth's forehead bears a strong resemblance to an Amulet Coin.
Junichi Masuda has stated that Meowth is based on Satoshi Tajiri's own pet cat. Meowth seems to be based upon the Japanese legend of the 招き猫 Maneki Neko, also known as the lucky cat or beckoning cat. According to one legend, a cat raised its paw to welcome a lord and saved his life when a lightning bolt hit the spot where he had been standing. Maneki Neko are often used as charms in restaurants and shops to bring customers or fortune and good luck. Statues of the cat are usually depicted holding a koban, an ancient coin used in Japan, like the one on Meowth's head.
Meowth may be a combination of meow (the sound a cat makes) and mouth. The -th may also be borrowed from Nyarth, as both meow and nyā are onomatopoeia of a cat's cry.
Nyarth may be a combination of ニャー nyā (the sound a cat makes) and the switched sounds of シャム Shamu (Siam, former name of Thailand), becoming ミャス Myasu. Siam relates to a cat breed, the Siamese, which in turn relates to Meowth's evolution, Persian, and the Persian cat breed.
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