Personality and background
Kyo's mother, in despair over having her son born a "monster," committed suicide by walking in front of an oncoming train (Chapter 119) when he was a young child of possibly four to six years old. His father abandoned him as well, blaming Kyo for his mother's death. People have criticized Kyo throughout his life for his differences, too frightened or never bothering to glance beyond the label of "The Cat" and regard Kyo as a true person. Like most of the Sohmas, throughout his school years, he begins to get picked on for the color of his hair but he would chase them around, threatening to kill them, which was around the time his temper began.
Because of the Jyuunishi curse, Kyo must always wear a Juzu bead bracelet. These beads were made from the bones of a priest and warrior, and so they are a powerful protective charm. The beads themselves are alternately pale and either red (in the manga) or dark purple (in the anime), with the dark ones supposedly stained by blood. Whenever these beads are taken off his wrist, Kyo transforms into the cat's "true form", which is a beast that resembles a mutated rabbit-like form, which has a horribly foul stench that even caused Tohru to throw up. This form is a result of the Jyuunishi curse, and only the cat transforms into this form. The Juzu beads are handed down to the current cat of the Zodiac from the previous cat, and must always be worn. In episode 24 Kazuma Sohma takes the beads off Kyo's wrist and he turns into the cat's true form. He does this purposely in front of Tohru Honda, trying to test what Tohru truly feels for Kyo.
Early in the manga it is established that of all the Sohmas suffering from the Zodiac curse it is Kyo, as the cat, who is generally the most reviled (although he is frequently viewed with pity or sometimes even uneasy acceptance rather than outright hatred, and it is implied that Kyo may be hated by certain members of the Sohma clan more than others - Akito seems to despise Kyo more than any other of the zodiac). In chapter 108 of the manga, Shigure tells Tohru that the members of the Zodiac are "monsters...disgusting creatures," and that "the existence of the cat is our salvation...He's a monster even uglier than we are, inferior to everything." He adds that the cat has an obligation to accept the fact that he will be isolated from society (essentially imprisoned for the remainder of his life), "discriminated against and looked down upon," because seeing this allows the other members of the Zodiac to feel better about themselves, at least better off than the cat.
He also made a bet with Akito that he will beat Yuki before they graduate. But if Kyo doesn't beat Yuki before they graduate, Kyo will be locked in the Cat's Room for the rest of his life; if he does, then he will be accepted as a full member of the zodiac. Akito knows - or is very confident that - Kyo will never defeat Yuki in anything. There are many possible reasons why Akito made this bet.
- Out of his hatred for the cat because it is not within the zodiac - To distract Kyo from trying to find a way to be rid of the curse by giving him an impossible hope for a way out - In order to cause Kyo to have even more hatred for Yuki, making Yuki more self-conscious and Akito using that for his own benefit (Akito has a sort of attachment to Yuki - he could believe that using Yuki's self-consciousness to make him cling to Akito) - To feel superior to Kyo (This seems to be his problem...)
Relationship with Tohru Honda
The first time Kyo meets Tohru is when Tohru accidentally finds out the Sohma family secret. At first, it seems that Kyo truly dislikes Tohru, treating her with his typical harsh and angry manner. After Tohru accidentally causes him to transform behind the school, Kyo angrily shouts "Stay out of my way! What's with you?! I can't even stand to look at you!" He later apologizes in the woods for what he said. The reason behind his reaction to her is revealed to be because of his feelings of guilt involving her mother's death. Standing near her, Kyo could have saved her from the oncoming car, but his fear of transforming in public made him hesitate and was thus unable to prevent her death. To cope with the guilt of believing he had been the reason Kyoko had died, Kyo pressed all of the blame onto Yuki, the hated Rat, in an attempt to ease his own burden. Likewise with Tohru, his temper was often short and he retaliated to her efforts of friendship by pushing her further and further away. However, just with the other members of the Sohma family, Kyo is drawn to Tohru by her kind and generous personality.
It eventually becomes apparent that Kyo's feelings have blossomed into love, something which both shames and terrifies him due to his believe that, as the Cat and the monster he turns in to, that no one could ever love him, as well as the guilt of the deaths of Tohru's mother and his own. Before he has even realized the extent of his emotion, it is clearly detected by others, such as Yuki, Arisa, and Saki. Saki, when in volume four, is visiting Kyoko's grave with Tohru, Yuki, Kyo, and Arisa, asks why Kyo is "standing before a grave with such feelings of regret... chaos.". Kyo finally confesses his love to himself and Akito in their confrontation in volume 11 and then breaks things off for good with Kagura Sohma in volume 12. In volume 17 he gives Tohru a paper flower when he hurts her feelings. Kyo and Tohru start to feel nervous around each other, for the two are realizing the true extent of their feelings (the mere act of touching hands sends them into fits of embarrassed babbling). It is also revealed in volume 16 that Kyo met Kyoko (Tohru's mother) in his childhood and even befriended her and, through her, knew of Tohru. In Chapter 122 and 123, when Tohru falls off a cliff while extending a hand of friendship to Akito Sohma and hits her head, Kyo finally admits his feelings to her, although she is not coherent enough to understand. Whilst she lies unconscious, Kyo kisses her on the lips, begging her not to die.
During Tohru's stay at hospital, Kyo made several attempts to visit her but was turned aside by both Tohru's friends and his own fear. Finally he admits that before he can see Tohru, he must tie up the loose ends of his own life and goes to see his father. After Tohru is released from the hospital, Kyo finally visits her, only to have her flee from him, due to him rejecting her confession of love. Unwilling to give up this time, Kyo gives chase to Tohru, remarking on how fast she is, but that he is faster. Eventually he catches up with her and confesses the extent of his feelings for her, this time whilst she is conscious and able to hear. Tohru does not feel she has to forgive Kyo, rather, she just wants to stay with him and reiterates the strength of her love. Overcome, the two embrace, only to realize that Kyo has not transformed. On the last page of chapter 129, the quote, "When one who was never loved is loved, the ancient promise nears the end" meaning that when Kyo found love, both given and received, the curse will be broken. Realizing the truth, Kyo tore off his beads, sending them scattering to the ground, a testament to the end of the curse as Tohru looks on, weeping with joy.
Relationship with his parents
Kyo had an unsteady relationship with his mother, who always seemed protective of him when he was a child. She claimed that she loved him, but Kyo knew deep down that she didn't really because of how she refused to acknowledge his "true form." Kyo always wondered if his mother was ashamed of him because he was possessed by the spirit of the cat and that his mother didn't want others to know about him. After his mother committed suicide, Kyo's father blamed the death on him because he was the cursed cat. In volume 9 of the Manga, Kyo's father is seen blaming Kyo on all of the bad things that had happened to him. He also makes a brief appearance in volume 6, saying to Kyo "Your mother loved you more than anyone!" Towards the end of the manga, Kyo makes an effort to reconcile with his father, but was violently rejected by the man. It was during this confrontation when Kyo realizes that his father had shunned his mother in addition to him, hinting that his mother committed suicide because of her protectiveness of Kyo. Kyo sees how pitiful his father was in blaming everything on him and decides to leave. Whether he reconciled with his father by the end of the manga is unknown.
Breaking the curse
On the last page of chapter 129 the quote, "When one who was never loved is loved, that ancient promise nears the end", is read. The implication is that when the cat, who was never truly loved nor ever truly fell in love, finds love at last, the curse of the Sohma family will near its end. Shigure Sohma has already noted the Sohma curse is weakening, especially considering Kureno (and later Momiji and Hiro) had been freed and Hatori's transformation is less than what was expected.
In Chapter 129, after Kyo and Tohru discover that he is free from the curse, Kyo tears off the beads on his wrist now that he no longer needs them; however he then suddenly feels unusual not wearing them and Tohru goes and picks them up. With the cat now free, a chain reaction begins as the remaining cursed members of the family are freed. Soon Ayame Sohma hugs Mine, Ritsu Sohma breaks a bowl in shock, and Kisa Sohma begins to cry as she plays with Hiro's baby sister. Kagura Sohma senses something has changed while she shops for groceries, as Isuzu Sohma and Hatsuharu Sohma embrace. Hatori Sohma, who was just out of the estate, is freed as well, while Shigure Sohma comments to himself the odd sensation of being freed. Out on a bench waiting for Machi, we see Yuki Sohma being freed from the curse as well and then kisses Machi when she comes. As Akito and the now freed Jyunishi break out in tears, a ghostly figure comes and takes the spirit of the Rat away, saying "Thank you for keeping your promise for such a long time."