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Ghost Stories Starring Cats: 6 Spooky Tails

Written by: Grant Piper

Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman holding book and cat

Ghost Stories Starring Cats: 6 Spooky Tails

Most people don’t find cats very scary. In fact, they find cats adorable, friendly, and fun. But that is not always the case. Throughout history, there have been numerous tales, stories, and legends containing ghostly cats. These cats take the form of shapeshifting demons and omens of tragic luck. You might love your own adorable feline, but you would never want to run into any of these terrifying kitties.

Here are six incredible ghost stories featuring cats of all kinds for you to sink your fangs into.

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The 6 Ghost Stories Starring Cats

1. The Ghost Cat

To start off, we have a story that inspired a beloved children’s book. Ghost Cat by Kevan Atteberry is an illustrated book about an adorable spectral kitty. However, what the kids won’t know is that this book is inspired by actual events. Atteberry says that his home was haunted by a ghost cat.

Kevan and his wife fed a stray cat on their porch for many days until one day, the cat died. Unfortunately, Kevan’s wife had Alzheimer’s, so he had to keep telling her that the cat was dead and wasn’t coming back. Day after day, Kevan had to tell his wife the cat died until she had forgotten the cat entirely. After that traumatic event, Kevan started seeing a shadow of a cat darting around his house. At first, Kevan didn’t want to believe that he had a ghost cat. That is preposterous. Or so he thought. But he kept seeing the cat and almost seeing the cat, and he felt like there was a ghostly feline inhabiting his home alongside him.

“I have a ghost cat in my house. I never really see it—just darts and blurs out of my peripheral vision,” Kevan wrote in a piece.

Kevan Atteberry used that experience to write his children’s book, which won the Crystal Kite Award in 2020. The Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given reward where other children’s authors and illustrators choose winners.

2. The Vampire Cat of Nabéshima

The Vampire Cat of Nabéshima is a twisted tale that hails from Japan. The story made its way to the West in the late 19th century and tells a story about a shapeshifting cat who drains the life force of its victims. In the story, the Prince of Hizen falls in love with a woman named O Toyo. However, the woman was stalked and killed by the vampire cat, who then used her blood to transform into the form of O Toyo. Each day, the Prince of Hizen spent time with the imposter O Toyo. At night, the cat would sneak into his room and drain his blood and life.

Over time, the Prince of Hizen became weak and ill as the cat continued to feed on him in his sleep. The prince suffered terrible nightmares and summoned 100 guards to stand by and watch him as he slept. Unfortunately, the vampire cat would cause all of the guards to become drowsy and fall asleep when it entered the room.

One guard suspected what was going on and stabbed himself in the thigh with his blade to keep himself awake. The pain and the blood prevented him from falling asleep when the cat came into the room. The guard saw O Toyo transform into a cat and drain the blood from his lord. The guard raised the alarm and pursued the vampire cat, but he was unable to kill it. The cat fled into the hills.

After the Prince of Hizen recovered from his ordeal, he ordered a great hunt, and dozens of men trekked off into the wilderness and hunted the vampire cat until the beast was finally cornered and slain.

3. Bakeneko (Japanese Demon Cat)

Here, we have another story from Japan featuring fearsome cats. The bakeneko is a type of demon cat that inhabits Japan. Bakeneko means “changed cat” in Japanese. These demon cats make a number of appearances in Japanese folklore. They were suspected of being able to bewitch people, and some even considered the vampire cat to have been a bakeneko. These demon cats have had a large number of traits and abilities prescribed to them, including shapeshifting into humans, wearing a towel on the head and dancing, the ability to speak, cursing unfortunate people, manipulating the dead, possessing unsuspecting people, and attacking travelers on lonely mountain roads. In one particularly strange tale from the Oki Islands, a Japanese demon cat shapeshifted into a human because they desired to learn the art of sumo.

In Medieval Japan, cats with long tails were considered to be evil. Long-tailed demon cats were said to have the ability to possess and bewitch. This led villagers to kill long-tailed cats or cut their tails down to a shorter size in the hopes of destroying their black magic. Long-tailed cats are uncommon in Japan today, likely because of this persecution.

4. Unsinkable Sam

Unsinkable Sam was an uncanny cat that inhabited a number of ships during World War II. The cat, at first, was nameless and would stalk the halls of the Nazi battleship Bismarck. When the Bismarck was destroyed in a fierce naval battle with Britain, the British sailors that sank the battleship took the cat aboard. The cat survived the destruction of the ship when so many did not.

The ship that the cat made it onto was the HMS Cossack. But like the Bismarck, the Cossack would also come under enemy attack and sink. Just as before, the cat was scooped up out of the water again by the British. Now, the cat was given a name: Unsinkable Sam. The sailors marveled at the cat’s good luck and treated the cat as a lucky charm. But was Unsinkable Sam lucky…or unlucky?

Once again, Sam made it onto a new ship. This time, it was a powerful aircraft carrier, the HMS Ark Royal. At this point, you should know what happens next. A German torpedo hit the HMS Ark Royal and sank it, sending Sam once again into the cold waters of the ocean.

This raises the question, was Unsinkable Sam a cat with a plethora of lives to burn, or was it something more sinister? Was Unsinkable Sam lucky, or was the cat unlucky? Was the cat an apparition that brought misfortune to the ships that it stalked? History seems to say yes. Every time Unsinkable Sam walked onto your ship, the ship would sink. Sometimes it would take days, other times months, but every ship Sam inhabited ended up resting on the bottom of the ocean.

5. The Black Cat of Killakee

In Dublin, Ireland, there is a place called the Killakee House. The Killakee House is supposedly one of the most haunted places in the world. One of the things haunting the house is a demonic cat known as the Black Cat or the Black Cat of Killakee. In the region around Dublin, the Black Cat is a known figure that has haunted it for centuries. However, the Black Cat attached itself to the Killakee House in the 20th century and wreaked havoc.

Workers renovating the Killakee House in 1968 reported strange sightings. The house was haunted by loud noises and ill feelings. The workers reported seeing “a huge black cat with glowing demon eyes,” which would stalk them.

Local exorcists were brought in to get rid of the cat, and after a successful exorcism, the cat vanished for a time. The success of an exorcism speaks to the demonic nature of the cat. Unfortunately, sometime later, a group of actors renting the house performed a scene that brought the Black Cat roaring back. This time, the cat was accompanied by two ghostly nuns, who took to haunting the house in earnest. The nuns were supposedly corrupted and took part in Satanic rituals as part of Dublin’s infamous Hellfire Club. The Black Cat of Killakee continues to haunt the Killakee House and the surrounding region to this day. It is connected to the devil and can be driven away by professional exorcists.

6. The Demon Cat of Washington, DC

demon cat of washington
Photo-1568995430555-091fd9226ed3 (Image Credit: X737257, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

If you told anyone that there were demons inhabiting Washington, DC, they wouldn’t be surprised. They might be surprised, however, to learn that one of the demons is a spectral cat. The demon cat of DC is one of the oldest ghost stories to come out of the American capital. The earliest story of the Demon Cat comes from 1862 during the Civil War. The cat would appear in the city as a black housecat and scare soldiers. The cat was so scary that some soldiers even fired their guns at the cat in a breach of protocol.

The goal of the demon cat is to scare people and evoke horror. In 1898, the Washington Post wrote a story covering the demon cat. The cat was said to appear out of nowhere and terrify passersby. It also had the curious ability to grow in size. The article stated that the cat would grow to the “size of an elephant before the eyes of a terrified observer.” Another article, published decades later in 1935, described the Demon Cat of DC as having eyes that “glow with all the hue and ferocity of the headlights of a fire engine.”

Spotting the Demon Cat (often abbreviated to just DC) is a bad omen. Today, the cat can be found haunting the basement regions of the US Capitol Building. These regions have been home to stray cats and vermin hunting animals for generations, but no one will confuse a friendly stray with the Demon Cat of DC. It is known to appear in other federal buildings as well, so next time you’re in Washington, DC, keep an eye out for the infamous demon cat lurking about.



Cats may be beloved pets, but they have long been associated with ghosts and demons. From a modern-day children’s book author who had a ghost cat in his home to an ancient Japanese cat that has been terrifying locals for centuries, there are a number of stories that feature ghostly felines. Each one of these stories speaks to the resilience of cats, their intelligence, their mystique, and their ability to appear and disappear under strange circumstances. When there is paranormal activity afoot, there is a good chance a cat is not far off. Some people believe that cats can see ghosts, and they have long been paramours of witches, demons, and the devil himself.

Featured Image Credit: Sushitsky Sergey, Shutterstock

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