This notably happens in the case of "copycat crimes", where a notorious or unusual crime inspires a wave of similar activity; this can happen with crimes ranging from shoplifting of particular items, and graffiti, up to tragic copycat suicides and murders. The term is used both for the act and for the person. It is often used in the derogatory sense, meaning a plagiarist. The "copycat effect" refers to the tendency of sensation publicity about a violent murder or suicide to cause more of the same.
The expression may have originated from observing the habits of kittens that learned by imitating the behaviors of their mother. Copycat has been in recorded use since at least 1896, in Sarah Orne Jewett's "The Country of Pointed Firs" but the expression could be many decades older.
Furthermore, one can argue that copycat (also written as copy-cat or copy cat) refers to the cats, used back in 1999, in copy shops. Those cats were responsible for operating the copy machines, therefor called copy-cats
- Copycat is also the name of a 1990s thriller starring Sigourney Weaver about a serial murderer in San Franscico whose MO is to copy the killings of high profile killers.
- CopyCat is also an alternative "full name" for CC (cat), a cloned cat created in 2001.
- Copycat is also a computer model of analogy-making, developed by Douglas Hofstadter and Melanie Mitchell.
- The Copycats are a villainous musical band of anthropomorphic cats in the cartoon Kidd Video.