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Nine Lives Are Not Enough: True Tales of Ghost Cats

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Two chilling stories of real-life encounters with ghost cats.

Two chilling stories of real-life encounters with ghost cats.

The Homebody

This story came my way as an afterthought on—of all days—Halloween. My sister and I were talking on the phone about an unrelated topic when she suddenly blurted out, "Oh, did I tell you about the cats I take care of?" It was obvious by her excited tone that she had something of interest to share.

My sister operates a successful pet sitting service. The bizarre events she was about to relate involved two cats, a female tortoiseshell named Sadie, and a black and white male called Max.

She explained that the cats were indoor/outdoor pets that could come and go as they pleased by way of their owner's garage. The arrangement had worked for ages and the pair seemed to be quite content, although they weren't thrilled with each other's company. According to my sister, even though they had grown up together, the contrary felines had never gotten along.

As it happens, one of the cat's owners is a regular at the golf course where my sister works part-time. It was there that he broke the news to her that they had been forced to euthanize Sadie.

As the conversation continued, he told her that Max had stopped coming around shortly after Sadie's passing. He said that his family had tried everything they could think of to let their remaining cat know that he was still welcome in their home, but he steadfastly refused to set foot on the property. They eventually gave up, assuming that he was acting out in response to losing his companion in spite of their often acrimonious relationship.

The man went on to say that they had learned from one of their neighbors that Max had been sleeping on her porch every night. The cat had become such a fixture at her place that she had constructed a shelter in order to protect him from the elements.

It would soon become apparent to those involved that the cat's reasons for giving his former home a wide berth were rooted not in grief, but fear.

Watch out in the night.

Watch out in the night.

An Unexpected Return

My sister, who knows just about everyone in her small community, was also friendly with the neighbor who was now caring for Max. The next time the two crossed paths, the woman shared her version of events, which differed slightly from the one she had heard previously. Unlike his original owners, the woman had a pretty good idea why Max had suddenly abandoned the only home he had ever known.

The neighborhood, by all accounts, is decidedly dog-friendly. As such, there are very few free-roaming felines. Residents who do own cats tend to keep them indoors at all times for their own safety. Sadie and Max had always been the exceptions to the rule.

The woman said that, as she was leaving one day, she noticed a tortoiseshell cat perched on top of one of the brick markers at the bottom of the driveway of the home across the street. Under normal circumstances, she would have thought nothing of it. This occasion was, however, anything but normal.

The neighbor had learned weeks earlier from the people who lived in the house that they had put Sadie to sleep. Still, she couldn't deny that the resemblance between the two cats was uncanny. As it turned out, this would prove to be the first of many encounters she would have with the mysterious doppelganger.

She confided that she had seen Sadie in the driveway of what had been her earthly home several times since her passing. On each occasion, the cat was either bathing or keeping a watchful eye over the property. The woman had become convinced by that time that the cat didn't simply resemble Sadie, but that the two were one and the same.

She explained that she was well-acquainted with the neighbor's pets. Sadie's distinctive markings and mannerisms were unmistakable. She knew it was impossible, but somehow the cat had returned home looking just as she always had, despite the fact that she had been cremated and her ashes scattered in the backyard.

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Over time, the neighbor began to suspect that she wasn't the only one who could see the wraith. Max, who usually slept curled up on her swing for most of the day, would hide in his makeshift house or take off running into the woods anytime Sadie made an appearance.

My sister didn't doubt the story for a minute. She had been fond of both of her charges but had always preferred the company of the gentle tuxedo cat.

She remembers Sadie as having been aloof and somewhat of a bully. Having witnessed her lash out at Max in the past, she understood why he had chosen to move houses rather than tangle with the cat who had intimidated him in life and was apparently continuing to do so in death.

Sadie's former owners ended up adopting a puppy after it became clear to them that their surviving cat preferred to make his home elsewhere. Upon introducing their new pet to my sister, they related that he had an odd habit of going into their daughter's bedroom and barking incessantly at the heating duct. Even though there were at least a dozen others just like it positioned throughout the house, this was the only vent that captured his attention.

They wouldn't have given it a second thought had it not been for the fact that the area in front of the heat source had always been Sadie's favorite place to curl up and sleep.

My sister has taken care of the puppy, which is now a full-grown dog, on several occasions and has also witnessed this behavior. She says that the way the little Maltese yaps and prances around the spot makes her think that he is trying to engage with a playmate only he can see.

There's really no way of knowing if this story is simply a series of coincidences or if Sadie, stubborn even in the face of death, managed to cross the line that separates worlds. Cats do, after all, like to keep us guessing.

There's more than meets the eye.

There's more than meets the eye.

The Crypt Keeper

Centuries ago, cats were introduced into the passageways that run beneath the United States Capitol Building in an attempt to control the ever-growing rat population. Once their purpose was served, the felines were allowed to die off. One, however, is said to haunt the premises to this day.

Legend has it that the cat makes its presence known in the days leading up to major events, most notably, elections. On the darker side, it is also believed to warn of tragedies that lie ahead.

Mysterious Feline Sightings

The first documented sighting occurred in 1865, two weeks before Abraham Lincoln was gunned down in Ford's Theater. The last appearance on record took place nearly a hundred years later when the harbinger of doom showed up just prior to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although the entity is said to roam freely throughout the catacombs, it is most often spotted near an empty crypt that was meant to house the remains of the nation's first president.

The cat was also rumored to have been seen around the time of the devastating stock market crash of 1929 and again to herald 1987's Black Monday. If a disaster is on the horizon, the phantom feline is always the first to know; or so it seems.

Many have tried and failed to capture the furry interloper. Those who managed to get close enough to make a grab for the cat claimed that it vanished into thin air as soon as it felt threatened.

A Long History of Defeat

According to lore, a guard who faced off with the menacing feline in the late 1800s suffered a heart attack and died on the spot. That unfortunate event led some to conclude that perhaps the cat made itself scarce not for its own protection but for that of whoever may cross its path.

Back in the day, a citizen militia was recruited to act as night watchmen. It was during this period that stories began to circulate of encounters with a cat that grew ten times its normal size when provoked. Since the men were known to consume alcohol while on duty, their accounts were taken with a grain of salt.

Other guards, whose reputations could not be sullied, recounted having run-ins with the cat during which it had leapt high above their heads and escaped into a void near the ceiling.

Most of the time, the jet-black feline is said to look and act like any other of its ilk, but not always. Sometimes, it appears only as a set of red or gold glowing eyes that peer out from the shadows. On other occasions, its presence is evidenced by the signs it leaves behind.

Unexplained Tiny Pawprints

Tiny pawprints that no one can explain are visible in the concrete floor of the Senate Rotunda. There is no question that the impressions were made when a cat walked through the wet cement. However, since no such animals were present at the time of construction, how this occurred remains a mystery.

Those currently on staff tend to keep mum on the subject of the building's four-legged specter for fear of breaching their security agreements and thus losing their positions.

Retired guards have no such qualms. Over the years, it was these former employees who had a tendency to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. It is thanks to them that the exploits of the "Demon Cat" or "D.C." for short, were brought to light.

Since a new Commander in Chief is set to take the oath of office, some believe that D.C. is once again active in the catacombs. If this is the case, it is further proof that cats, in all their forms, are eternal.


  • Atlas Obscura
  • The Washington Post
  • Washingtonian

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