They were originally known as Cactrots, and later renamed to cactuar. Other variations of cactuar include Qactuar, Kactuar, Cactuer and Cactoid. Other languages refer to them as "Pampa", "Kyactus" and "Cactilio". Its Japanese name is derived from mixing the Japanese word for cactus, "サボテン, saboten" and the English word "pretender".
The cactuar's debut appearance was in Final Fantasy VI as an enemy in the desert near Maranda on the World of Ruin.