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What Are Your Favorite Ghost Stories Starring Cats?

In the dark of a cold winter's night I love to curl up with spooky tales -- preferably about cats.

 |  Feb 6th 2014  |   2 Contributions


A man and a woman got married. As married couples are prone to do, the man and the woman moved in together after the wedding. All was wedded bliss, except for one thing. 

The woman's beloved cat. 

The man hated the cat, and the cat hated the man. In objection to the man's presence in "his" home, the cat took to shredding the man's ties that he would toss over a chair in the bedroom when he got home from work. 

You already know I tried to call my dead cat via an Ouija board, right? Illustration by the always-awesome Nigel Sussman

But the cat had come before the man (I think we can all relate to this, no?) and the woman was adamant that the elderly cat should live out his remaining years in comfort in their home. So the man, to please his new wife, smiled, nodded, and agreed to try to remember to hang up his ties in the closet, and be kind to the ornery kitty. 

The man did not have to submit to the cat for long, for in a few short months, the old cat got sick and died. As he dutifully comforted his heartbroken wife, the man was secretly thrilled. He was once again the man of the house. 

It's a perfect night to curl up with a good book.

That night, as he took his tie off from a day at work, he gleefully draped it over the back of the bedroom chair, knowing that this time, it would not be shredded. Climbing into bed and turning off the light, he thought he glimpsed a small shadow dart out the bedroom door, just as his wife's cat used to do. Chuckling to himself for seeing things, he turned over in bed and started to fall asleep. Just as he was drifting off, he could have sworn he heard the pitter patter of little paws running around the bed ...

The next morning, the man got out of bed bright and early to get dressed for work. He took a shower, put on his trousers, and shirt, and then turned to the bedroom chair to get his tie. Upon reaching for the tie, the man froze. Like so many times before, the tie was shredded to pieces. 

I don't remember where I read this story first. I'm sure it was in one the copious books of ghost stories or urban legends I keep artfully scattered around my apartment. It's been windy, cold, and rainy in Honolulu lately (okay, fine, 67 degrees, no "Polar Vortex," but I'll happily take any weather that allows me to wear sleeves or drink hot things without sweating). It's the perfect weather to turn down the lights, snuggle up with a kitty, and tuck into a spooky story. Even better, some creepy cat stories.

So for those of you caught in the throes of the "Polar Vortex" -- I was in Maine a few weeks ago, and my hair froze, so I feel your hypothermia -- I offer you some of my favorite cat-centric, delightfully spooky stories to capitalize on the chilling atmosphere this time of year affords us. 

Best enjoyed with a feline companion.

Brandy was not so interested in curling up -- good book or not.

1. The Cat's Paw

For urban legend buffs, this is one of my favorites. If you were, or are, a fan of "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," this story may ring a bell. 

The meat was being stolen out of a man's smokehouse. In order to catch the thief, the man kept guard over is smokehouse one night. As darkness fell, a giant female cat crept into the smokehouse and proceeded go for the hanging meat. 

The man quickly flipped on the light, but the "she-cat," instead of fleeing, turned on the man. Grabbing the rifle he had brought with him, the man shot at the giant cat, shooting off her paw. Screaming like a human she tore around the room before escaping out the chimney. 

From "More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark", illustration by Stephen Gammell.

Going over to inspect the severed paw, the man was shocked to see a woman's bloody foot writhing on the ground. The man immediately knew a witch was responsible for the stealing the meat from his smokehouse. 

Just then, a neighbor of his came tearing down the road looking for a doctor. His wife's foot had been shot off, and she was bleeding "pretty bad." A doctor was able to save her, but people who saw the neighbor's wife said she was "spittin' and yowling' just like a cat." 

2. The Black Cat of Killakee 

The Hellfire Club in Ireland is supposedly one of the most haunted places in the world. Site of demonic worship, and numerous brutal murders and human sacrifices, visitors to the Hellfire Club still report ghostly screams, being poked, prodded and tugged on, as well as the sightings of the Black Cat of Killakee. 

Described as having a face that is "disturbingly humanoid," the giant Black Cat is said to haunt the grounds around the ruins of the Hellfire Club. Reports claim the cat with "red flecked yellow eyes" would appear from time to time in the Killakee House, nearby the Hellfire Club, only to stare at its inhabitants then disappear. 

Still others say that the creepy cat is capable of speaking, and most every account of encountering the Black Cat describes a sense of utter terror. 

The Black Cat of Killakee. I don't even like looking at this picture.

3. The Bakeneko and The Devil Cat of Nabeshima 

"Bakeneko" roughly means "shape-changing cat" in Japanese. It's a catchall term used to describe mysterious, and paranormal cats in Japan. 

It was common for these cats to steal not only food, but also cloths or napkins and dance about with the napkins on their head, mimicking human speech. 

One such story is that of a soy sauce shop owner who noticed that his hand towels kept disappearing. Upon investigating a commotion of loud music and carrying-on one night, he came upon a gathering of cats having a gay old time. In the center of the festivities, he found his own cat wearing a towel on his head, dancing around on his hind legs! 

I know this sounds like the tall tale of a shop owner who'd maybe had one too many cups of sake, but go to Japan and there are landmarks where some of these mischievous Bakeneko hijinks took place. "Odoriba-eki" or "Dancing Place" Station, a train station in Yokohama, is one such landmark. 

A more sinister tale is that of the Devil Cat of Nabeshima. In what is now the modern day prefecture of Saga, a man by the name of Ryuzoji Matashichi "fell out of favor" with the ruler, Nabeshima, and was killed. So distraught was Matashichi's mother that she poured her heart out to her beloved cat, then committed suicide by stabbing herself. When the blood spilled, the cat lapped up some of the dead woman's blood, thus becoming a Bakeneko. 

Now cursed, Nabeshima was tormented nightly by the Bakeneko. It was only when one of Nabeshima's men "battled the cat" and won that the curse was finally lifted. 

4. The Crescent Hotel 

Lastly there's the ghost of Morris, the honorary general manager of the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR. 

Morris greeted guests at the Crescent Hotel for 21 years before passing away. He is buried in the hotel's rose garden, a favorite spot of his, his grave marked by a granite headstone. 

Morris is reported to be seen in the rose garden as well as in the hotel's basement. A woman by the name of Vickie Beason, a regular visitor to the Crescent Hotel, disclosed her final encounter with Morris. 

Our beloved cat Morris.

While visiting the Crescent, the ghost of Morris, unbeknownst to Beason that he was a ghost at this point, apparently leapt up onto her lap as he'd always done in life and asked for a few parting scratches. Wondering where all the "Do Not Pet the Cat" signs had gone (they had been put up so as to protect Morris in his old age), she indulged Morris for a few minutes before the large orange tabby jumped off her lap and hid under a couch. 

Upon standing up, it was only then that "she noticed an obituary displayed at the front desk: 'Our beloved cat, Morris ...'"

So hold your kitties close, friends. You might just want to stay on their good side, in this life, or after! 

Do you know any kitty ghost stories? Tell them in the comments!

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