By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Short Story Review: "The Cats of Ulthar" of H. P. Lovecraft

In Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, it’s said that there is a law forbidding men to kill cats. It wasn’t always this way. Indeed, once there was an old cotter and his wife who took it upon themselves to put an end to any cat they could get their hands on. The people of Ulthar, rather than confront the couple, who were rather intimidating, just made a point of keeping their pets and mousers away from them as best they could, but things happen.

One day a group of strangers with oddly painted wagons came through Ulthar. Among them was a young boy named Menes, who’d lost both his parents to illness. His only comfort was a black kitten. He delighted in the kitten’s antics until that kitten went missing…

There are no surprises here, but by the end of the story, the reader understands why the law was passed and wants to go kick the shins of anyone who has ever mistreated an animal. To be honest, Lovecraft over does his use of antiquated English here, but he’s still able to get the reader so emotionally invested in the outcome of the story, everything else is almost secondary. This is not his best work, but is still engrossing and unusual.


Title: “The Cats of Ulthar” written in 1920, first published in the magazine The Tryout , Nov. 1920.

Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

Source: ISFDB



©2015 Denise Longrie

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iwrite28 wrote on April 25, 2015, 3:07 AM

Lovecraft is excellent at crafting the narration of his stories.

AliCanary wrote on April 25, 2015, 3:23 AM

I would do more than kick the shins of someone who mistreated, let alone killed, an animal, and I don't even have to read the story! Rawrrr!

msiduri wrote on April 25, 2015, 7:11 AM

Yes. For the most part, I really enjoy reading his stuff. There's an occasional clunker, but I nevertheless find them enjoyable.

msiduri wrote on April 25, 2015, 7:12 AM

emoticon :smile: I admire the attitude. It bothers me so much to see innocent animals suffer needlessly when people are ignorant or violent.

CalmGemini wrote on April 25, 2015, 11:56 AM

This is one of his better stories, if not the best.And knowing who the author is, the end is a predictable one. BY the way , Lovecraft is a cat lover.

msiduri wrote on April 25, 2015, 12:23 PM

I didn't know that until I read this story. Yes, I really like this story.

AliCanary wrote on April 26, 2015, 2:03 AM

It's particularly ironic the way people will describe someone who is senselessly violent as "an animal", when humans are the ones who have clearly cornered the market on cruelty.

msiduri wrote on April 26, 2015, 9:07 AM

What's been my experience (take that for it's worth), the more widespread problem is not so much outright violence and cruelty, though there's plenty of that, but neglect. People who don't care for their animals adequately. A former coworker of mine once mentioned at work that she let her dog "go" in the woods because they were moving and her new place wouldn't allow dogs. I was livid and said, rather untactfully, "That's cruel. You could have put an ad in the paper, 'Free to good home.' You could have taken her to a shelter. Sure, she'd probably be put down, but she wouldn't be eaten by coyotes, get hit by a car or starve to death." Yeah, she hated me.

AliCanary wrote on April 26, 2015, 4:37 PM

You did the right thing. She needed to have her eyes opened.

msiduri wrote on April 26, 2015, 8:10 PM

Thanks. I wish the dog had been saved, though.