Khajiit are cat-like people who come from Elsweyr, known for high intelligence and agility. These traits make them very good thieves and acrobats, but Khajiit are also fearsome warriors. However, they are rarely known to be mages. Khajiit mostly stay on land, but piracy and skooma trade does draw some to work as sailors.
Khajiit anatomy differs greatly from both men and elves, not only because of their fur, tail, and sometimes toe-walking stance, but also their digestive system and metabolism. Khajiit, Argonians, and Imga are the so-called "beast races" of Tamriel because of these large differences. Khajiit have a lifespan similar to that of humans. There are no well-documented cases of cross-breeding between Khajiit and other races, though there are rumors of such a thing. The foreign appearance and behavior of Khajiit make them common targets of racism.
Khajiit kingdoms existed long before recorded history. Elsweyr consisted of 16 kingdoms of about 20 different types of Khajiit early in the First Era, particularly cooperative and harmonious compared to other races of the time. The Thrassian Plague upset this balance in 1E 2260, leaving only two primary kingdoms. Elsweyr became its modern state in 2E 309 when Keirgo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine combined their long-feuding domains and gave the land its name, sparking a serious class struggle, as the northern Anequina saw Pellitine as depraved and decadent, while the Khajiit of Pellitine thought Anequina barbarous.
The Mane Rid-T'har-ri'Datta restored peace by having each side of Khajiiti society take turns governing the entire region based on the phases of Masserand Secunda, which Khajiit hold in great reverence. The terms of this measure, the Riddle'thar, were overseen by the thinly-veiled dictatorship of the Mane himself.The effictiveness of each individual Mane has varied greatly, and some led the Khajiit to periods of strife and war throughout the Third Era, especially with the Bosmer. They have historically achieved greater peace and prosperity under Imperial rule (according to Imperial scholars), yet often rebel against their authority in keeping with their unique view of the world.
In 4E 98, Masser and Secunda vanished, creating fear and strife among the Khajiit. When the moons reappeared two years later and the Thalmorannounced they had used magic to restore them, the Khajiit praised them as their saviors. In 4E 115, popular support for the Thalmor led to a military takeover of Elsweyr's Imperial government and the reestablishment of the ancient kingdoms Anequina and Pelletine, this time as states of the Thalmor.
The Mane, while the unofficial head-of-state, is no more a "breed" of Khajiit than any other is; he is simply unique. Khajiit tradition holds that only one Mane may be alive at any one time, since the Mane is one entity reborn in different bodies with the passage of time. The veracity of this is unknown, but there has been no recorded instance of multiple Manes contending for power. The Khajiit are divided by two disparate ways of life: the civilized jungles and river basins of southern Elsweyr, which have ancient mercantile traditions, a stable agrarian aristocracy based on the exportation of saltrice and Moon Sugar, and a thriving artistic culture, which contrasts greatly with the nomadic tribe or pride-centric Khajiit of the dry northern wastes and grasslands, where aggressive and territorial raiders occasionally unite under a single chieftain. It is widely held that the greatest force among the Khajiit are the Clan Mothers. It is they, ultimately, who control both the harvest and refining of Moon Sugar, and thus they who are seen as the most influential.
The Khajiit often refer to Moon Sugar as "crystallized moonlight", trapped by the glimmering waters of the Topal Sea and washed to the sugarcane groves of the Tenmar Forest by the tides, under the guidance of Hermorah. The Khajiit believe that by consuming it, they are consuming a small portion of the eternal souls of the moon gods, Jone and Jode. It drives them into fits of ecstasy and abandon, purportedly leaving the streets of Elsweyr's major cities strewn with catmen shivering in the grip of sugar-fits. Despite the extremely addictive nature of the sugar, it is an integral part of Khajiit life and the chief export of Elsweyr, where it is smuggled out in both raw and refined forms. It helps support a thriving black market; it is said one can purchase practically anything among the Khajiit. Khajiit of the desert tribes are often buried with only a small cairn of stones, so their bodies can be easily used by Necromancers.
This love of Moon Sugar has given them a "sweet tooth"; candies, cakes, puddings, and sugar-meats are the staples of the Khajiit diet, each generously enriched with Moon Sugar. This relationship between religion and cultural practice goes deeper than appearances suggest. According to legend, the Khajiit and their deities are bound up in the Lunar Lattice, no less than the famed Liminal Barriers, the tendency of Mundus to remain discrete from the Sea of Oblivion and the force that keeps the Daedra out of Nirn. In this way the Khajiit, Moon Sugar, Lorkhan's Moons, Lorkhan's Heart, and White Gold Tower are all related, as all play a part in shaping the fundamental structure of the mortal plane.
The typical bipedal Khajiit dresses in an ample shawl of brightly-colored cloth, known as a budi, for defense against the harsh rays of the sun. This shirt is tightly fastened in braids down the right side, in order to prevent any part of the torso fur from being seen, as the exposure of such in public is deemed both offensive and unsightly. In battle, those who walk upright traditionally don medium-weight armor, exquisitely fashioned from loose-fitting leather overlaid with lacquered and highly-burnished metal plates. While leather caps are generally preferred, those with the means to procure such will often don helms of fluted silver. Furthermore, most Khajiit bedeck themselves with jewelry, trinkets, and occasionally even herbs such asNightshade. Their tattoos often have deep cultural and religious significance, as they signify their race, tribe, and the gods of their worship.
Over the years, Khajiit frequently have had to deal with the worry of being kidnapped and sold into slavery, especially in Morrowind, so they have to take self-defense seriously. While the majority of Khajiit prefer to use their razor-sharp and retractable claws as weapons in numerous forms of Khajiiti martial arts like Goutfang, Whispering Fang and Rawlith Khaj, many have mastered the use of the sabre, scimitar, dagger, and longbow. Their chosen mastery is often reflected in male Khajiit names, through which they display their status in life with the prefix; though care is always taken, for the use of two titles is perceived as the result of either great pride or ignorance. While widely speculated, it is unknown whether the Khajiit are in any way related to the Po' Tun (currently Ka Po' Tun) cat people of Akavir or the Lilmothiit, a vulpine beast race which once inhabited Black Marsh.