Pepita is an imposing alebrije who functions as a sort of spiritual guide for Imelda. She cannot speak, instead she can only make animal-like roars and noises.
Pepita is a cross between a large cat (such as a tiger or a jaguar), an eagle, and several other animals, including teal ram horns and a striped iguana-like tail. Overall her body shape is stock in the front and lean in the back. Her back is a deep blue that fades to emerald green across her body, while yellow highlights are scattered among this. Pepita's wings are red while her underbelly is orange, and she has eagle hindlegs with aqua-colored talons.
While visiting the land of the living, Pepita takes the form of a common house cat.
Pepita is inspired by Mexican artisan folklore, especially in the Oaxaca region.
Pepita's species, Alebrijes, are small figurines made out of paper maché or carved out of wood that represent mythical animal hybrids. Adrian Molina and the Pixar team came across these brightly-colored sculptures while doing research for the film and were immediately smitten with them.
Pepita was originally going to be a Xolo dog under consideration from the film's producers. However, she was changed to a cat and from an artist's viewpoint, her Alebrije design opened up many decisions on Pepita's design.
The novelization reveals that Pepita has been with the Riveras as Imelda's pet cat when Imelda is alive.