Its power can be used for self-defense, as Cat Noir tries to use it to resist Guitar Villain's sound attacks, though this failed to work. In "Anansi", he uses it to keep the titular villain from stealing his Miraculous, since she would be unable to touch his hand without being affected by the Cataclysm's destructive energy.
While Cataclysm is a very helpful superpower, Cat Noir must use it wisely, as he can only use it once before transforming back into his civilian form five minutes after using it. In addition, once he summons the superpower, he can't turn it off and must use it to get rid of it. Another weakness of the power is that if a Cat Miraculous user's hands are restrained he/she can't use it, as first seen in "Robostus".
In the Korean version, the superpower is called "Ancient Destruction."
Concept art shows Cat Noir having other superpowers called Black Storm and Black Hole.
Plagg used this power to cause the sinking of Atlantis, the leaning of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and, most notably, the extinction of the dinosaurs when using his Cataclysm without an owner in the past.
However, as shown in "Catalyst", it turns out that Plagg can control his power when he wants, as it only the street was damaged and nowhere else.
But according to Tikki in "Kwamibuster", Plagg has limited control over his Cataclysm.
The ship "Liberty" in "Captain Hardrock" and the Eiffel Tower in "Style Queen" are the biggest things so far that Cataclysm was used on while in "Queen Wasp", the Bee Miraculous was the smallest.
It's revealed that Cat Noir doesn't need to use his whole hand when using Cataclysm, since he destroyed the Bee Miraculous with just one finger in "Queen Wasp" and the titular villain's mask in "Animaestro".
Interestingly enough, whether a Cataclysm is used or not, just summoning it will cause the detransformation of the user as seen in "Anansi".
Copycat is able to use this ability as well.
Cat Noir summons it in "Reflekta", but he is transformed by the titular villain before he has a chance to use it.
This happens again in "Malediktator", but he has a spell cast on him by the titular villain before he has a chance to use it.
Guitar Villain is the only one who manages to defeat Cataclysm with his Awesome Solo.
Lady Wifi, the Evillustrator, Reflekta, and Copycat manage to anticipate the use of Cataclysm, but Lady Wifi doesn't manage to stop Cat Noir from using it.
Ladybug counters the use of Cataclysm in "Copycat", "Princess Fragrance" and "Dark Cupid".
"Miraculer" has the most uses of Cataclysm, totaling six times: five from Miraculer and one from Cat Noir.
In the alternative future of "Cat Blanc" it was used 11 times, nine of those by Cat Blanc.
The power was used twice in "Copycat", "Simon Says", "Santa Claws", "The Dark Owl", "Mayura", "Oblivio" and "Cat Blanc".
According to Plagg in "Miraculer", Cataclysm has never been used on a Cat Miraculous holder until that episode.
It seems when a Cat Miraculous user gets older they seem to have further control of their powers, as seen in "Timetagger". When Bunnyx gave Ladybug her damaged Rabbit Miraculous, it was cracked, compared to the Bee Miraculous that was completely destroyed in "Queen Wasp".
In "Cat Blanc", it is revealed the power is connected to the user's emotions.
As his akumatized alter ego, Adrien was able to amplify and decrease his powers to the point of completely deactivating it.
However, it's unknown if a normal Cat Miraculous user will have that degree of control when they get older.
In "Cat Blanc" in the alternate future, Adrien used it on an akuma for the first time, and since they are living creatures, Cataclysm can negate the effects of Akumatization as long as it's used directly on the akuma.
Interestingly, the perceived effects of Cataclysm on a person is a reference to the monster of Greek mythology Medusa.