The Great Clans were Clans consisting of species of big cats, living freely in the wild. They are regarded as the ancestors of all cats, both Clanborn and kittypet. The legends attribute the different great cat species with having given the cats the different traits they now possess.
- The Great Clans are the three Clans the modern Clans have descended from. LionClan had flowing manes, like the rays of the sun. LeopardClan were swift, and had black spots on their pelts like racing pawprints. TigerClan were flame-colored night hunters, with black stripes like shadows flickering across their fur and the darkness of night in their souls. There are stories about these Clans, but it is unsure whether these tales are true or not.
Canon Great Clans
- TigerClan - powerful cats with orange pelts and black stripes who hunted at night. They were considered to be most like ShadowClan. TigerClan was comprised entirely of tigers, they were said to be flame-colored night hunters, large as horses with jet-black stripes and the darkness of night in their souls.
- LeopardClan - agile cats with golden pelts and black spots, who were swift and sure. They were considered to be most like both WindClan and RiverClan. It was consisted of leopards who were the swiftest of the great cats. They are huge and golden, spotted with black pawprints. All cats possess their speed and hunting talent from LeopardClan.
- LionClan - massive cats with golden pelts and manes, who were strong and brave. They were considered to be most like ThunderClan. Comprised of lions, LionClan is the subject of many Clan myths and legends. They are known to be very strong, and have great flowing manes like the rays of the sun.
In the Super Edition Arc
- When Brightsky dies giving birth to her and Mudfur's kits, one survives. Mudfur names her Leopardkit after LeopardClan, hoping it would give her all the strength she would need to survive without Brightsky.
In the Original Arc
- Graypaw is talking to Firepaw and a few other apprentices about the three great Clans of ancient times. Graypaw accidentally calls LeopardClan "SpottyClan", forgetting the real name. Knowing they had spots on them lead him to believe the Clan had something to do with spots. Lionheart, a senior warrior of ThunderClan, then corrects him, knowing he means LeopardClan. He tells Graypaw and Firepaw about their speed and hunting skills, possessing these skills, and about their description. He also tells of the other Great Clans.
In the New Prophecy Arc
- When Graystripe is captured by the Twolegs, Squirrelpaw says she saw the Twolegs carry him away. Thornclaw is surprised, protesting that Graystripe was fighting like a TigerClan cat, referring to the Great Clans, and that they couldn't have gotten him. However, there were too many Twolegs for him to fight.
In the Power of Three Arc
- When the Clan cats go to assist the Tribe of Rushing Water, Lionpaw looks over the hills to the Lake. With the wind flattening his fur along his sides and the tiny shapes in the distance, he feels like a warrior of LionClan.
In the Field Guide Arc
- This book has a section on the mythological legends of the Clans. The sections include: "How LeopardClan Won the River", "How Snakes Came to the Forest", and "How TigerClan got Their Stripes".
- In "How LeopardClan Won the River", LionClan announces during a Gathering that a wild boar is loose in the forest. TigerClan says that they know of this boar, and that they call him Rage. It met a TigerClan hunting party, but escaped. Fleetfoot of LeopardClan announces that she can kill it. Shadestar and Goldenstar ask her to show that her deeds can match her words. Swiftstar says that in return LeopardClan will claim the river as their hunting grounds for one moon, which the others leaders agree with. Fleetfoot fights and kills Rage, but encounters his mate Fury, who the other leaders had known about, but not told her. She fights Fury for two days, drives her onto the stepping-stones, where she loses her footing and drowns. Goldenstar and Shadestar are ashamed of their treachery and give LeopardClan sole hunting rights to the river forever.
- In "How Snakes Came to the Forest", there once lived a LionClan warrior called Sunpelt, who went to Snakerocks to fight Mouthclaw, the giant snake who had killed many warriors. Sunpelt is too quick for Mouthclaw, and she cannot fight him. She tells him to spare her, in return for a wish. Sunpelt wishes for her to turn into a snake the size of a cat's tail. Mouthclaw shrinks into a thousand snakes, each the length of a cat's tail. Sunpelt, horrified, runs back to camp, and tells Goldenstar everything. Goldenstar is angry at first, but then forgives his warrior.
- In '"How TigerClan got Their Stripes", TigerClan have no stripes, just plain gold coats, and they are jealous of the other Clans' special features. This jealousy makes them bitter and so they hunt at night and keep to the shadows in the daytime. Thorntooth, a TigerClan warrior is so bitter that he steals fresh kill, and later Goldenstar's daughter Petalkit. Shadestar, his leader, calls a daytime Gathering, and returns Petalkit to LionClan. TigerClan are banished to the shadows for one moon. When they arrive at the next Gathering, their pelts have been sliced through with jet black stripes. From that day on, all TigerClan cats are born with stripes.