The Cats of Ulthar
01/08/2009 § 1 Comment
“The Cats of Ulthar” is a short story by H.P. Lovecraft about cats. Before I even read the story I naturally thought of Algernon Blackwood’s “Ancient Sorceries,” in which a man wanders into a town where the people are cat people and they end up worshiping the devil in a scene that appeared like the end of Rosemary’s Baby in my minds eye. Thanks movies for ruining my minds eye. I then thought of Sleepwalkers, a story by Stephen King and a bad movie from 1992 in which the mysterious folks are afraid of cats, and they end up being aliens or something to that effect. I don’t really remember.
Then I looked at my cat Hattie. That calculating stare and insatiable tongue that licks as if she were trying to lick your skin clear off your body. I don’t think these “kisses” as Gemma calls them are innocent, but an attempt to subdue and dominate me. Hattie bats me on the head every morning until I let her under the covers. She rests there for a moment and runs out, jumping across my body like a jerk.
The point is. I can understand why one would write a horror story about cats. They are cold, calculating, mysterious, come in all shapes and sizes, unpredictable, and nocturnal. Why do people even own them?
This story is not particularly scary and it seems much more like a fable than is typical of Lovecraft’s brand of “cosmic horror,” which I enjoy. The story is as follows: Some mean, mysterious old folks live way out of the village and purportedly kill any cat that comes by. Whatever works to keep your relationship alive I guess. Then some gypsies camp near and one of their cats goes missing. There is some more plot and good character names and then cats circle the old peoples house in pairs as if in some ancient ritual. Old Folks taken care of. I won’t tell you how. But you can find out here.
Kind of funny really. I guess my point is that I do find cats scary, but I have not really read or seen any scary things with cats. In practice it comes out sort of corny.