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The Cats of Ulthar

(Dream Cycle)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,092 ratings  ·  178 reviews
"The Cats of Ulthar" is a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft in June 1920. In the tale, an unnamed narrator relates the story of how a law forbidding the killing of cats came to be in a town called Ulthar.

The Cats of Ulthar was a personal favorite of Lovecraft's, who was an ardent cat lover.
Kindle Edition, 83 pages
Published November 18th 2010 (first published November 1st 1920)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Bill Kerwin
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it

This early Dunsanian tale, first published in the amateur literary journal Tryout (1920), resembles the work of Dunsany more deeply than mere style: although distant and ironic, it somehow manages to convey the spirit of naïve folklore. Like many of our ancient myths, it answers a question: why is it forbidden to kill a cat in Ulthar?

It is a slight tale, but nearly perfect. Lovecraft, who liked cats a lot, chose it one of his personal favorites. I am a cat person too, and find the story's
...more
Lyn
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent short story, reads like a fairy tale.

Lovecraft captured at once the innocence and primal terror of a folk tale. First published in 1920, this is one of his finest works from his earlier period and one of his better stories overall.

In the town of Ulthar, it is illegal to kill cats. Lovecraft relates the anecdote of why this law came to be and in doing so he demonstrates his exceptional ability to convey a sense of dark, ancient magic upon an innocent world.

description
Peter
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
An old cotter and his wive slay every stray cat moving around their premises after dark. When a group of foreign wanderers arrive the black kitten of one of their boys is missing. He raises his hands in prayer. At night, not a single cat was to be seen in Ulthar. What are they doing? Where did they go? Were the cats abducted by the group of travellers? In the morning the cats return to their owners. But what happened to the old cotter? Classic Lovecraft and an excellent story for every cat ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
On the one hand: cats! On the other hand: animal cruelty. On the other, other hand ...

This is an odd little H.P. Lovecraft tale, only ten paragraphs long, told in a portentous voice:
It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten
...more
Rebecca McNutt
The Cats of Ulthar at first sounded to me by its premise to be some kind of inverted version of The Peid Piper of Hamelin, and to some extent it was similar, but the mystery it presents stood out to me as very intriguing and different. The story evokes a bizarre atmosphere, and even more bizarre residents of a town where the killing of cats has been made illegal. There is seriously a married couple who find it fun to go around killing all the cats and kittens in town (what kind of drugs were ...more
Bark
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bark by: ᴥ Irena ᴥ
You can read it here at GR by clicking on that "preview button" or online here .

It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which man cannot see.

Once upon a time in Ulthar, before said law was put into action, there lived a sinister old couple who delighting in slaying any unlikely cat that straggled upon their
...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Super Extra Short Not-So-Horrific Horror Short Story about, um, you know, kitty cats and stuff, that can be read for free over here and stuff.

RTC. Maybe.
...more
Althea Ann
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A re-read (of course!)
The inhabitants of the village of Ulthar have long tolerated the creepy old couple that they suspect has been kidnapping and killing their pets. After all, they don't have any hard proof, and perhaps it's easier just to mourn Fluffy. However, a boy from a travelling nomad caravan has no such compunctions. When his beloved kitten falls victim to the unsavory couple, he will appeal to his strange gods for justice - and finally, things will change in Ulthar.
Dante
Nov 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: horror
"No man can kill a cat".
Mir
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth of the Dreamlands story cycle, and apparently the author's personal favorite. Certainly it is clear that he likes cats more than humans. I enjoyed and sympathized with his obvious gloating over the idea of horrible deaths befalling people who hurt animals.

Not as creepy as the horrifying Millions of Cats.

Sarnath <--previous | next --> Celephaïs
MRB
Such a wonderful masterpiece. I'm completely and utterly obsessed with this illustrated edition of The Cats of Ulthar. Kudos to the artist!
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
A creepy, little fairy tale with a moral at the end: don't mess with the cats. I loved it.
This could be a bit spoilery, but who cares. You know something creepy happens anyway. It's Lovecraft! (view spoiler)

Shannon
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting fairy tale as to why cats cannot be killed in Ulthar.

OVERALL GRADE: B minus.
debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
ooooo, a creepy little tale that I enjoyed quite a lot. I have had it sitting on kindle for quite sometime after picking it up for .99 last year. I think I was afraid to read it. So glad I opened it p last night because I wanted something short while trying to get sleepy. I was hooked right from the beginning, which starts like this:

"It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the
...more
Amina
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ha! in your face old creepy couple who hate cats!!!
That end, oh my God that end! I really wish, from the bottom of my heart that this will happen to all animal abusers! AMEN!
Mr. Windup Bird
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, be they allergic to cats or not
Very nice short story, which makes me either sad, or happy (I cannot tell which) that I am allergic to cats. :) Oh to visit Ulthar, near the river of Skai, somewhere in Lithuania (inside joke).
Tim Pendry

A remarkably good early (1920) story, slightly marred only by his insistence at the end on spelling out what we know already, Lovecraft weaves dark fantasy, a suggestion of Egyptian mythology and true horror into a tale of magical invocation and the revenge of cats on vicious humans.

Lovecraft holds our attention throughout. Dunsany is frequently cited as an influence but Poe is in there as well. Certainly this is a story for those who love and respect cats but who have considerable doubts about
...more
Sara M. Abudahab
It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat.

Old grumpy couple who live in the city of Ulthar enjoy capturing and killing the cats of their neighbors, but when a caravan of wanderers passes through the city and the precious black kitten of Menes goes missing.... what will he do?
MRB
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, animals, classics
"No man may kill a cat."
Melanie
What's not to love about a combination of cats and Lovecraft eh...?

Paras2
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
dark folktale told skillfully and magnificently although the concept is pretty simple, the narrative is incomparable to any other folktale.
Sophie (Blame Chocolate) *on hiatus*
The Cats of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

Read the full review and more at Blame Chocolate.

Click here for more Halloween reviews

This short story was one of Lovecraft’s favorites, due to his love for cats, and even though I’m a cat lover myself, I feel like it didn’t quite hit the mark. I enjoyed it, for sure, but felt it was too brief for me to feel any sort of attachment or fondness for the characters or the story itself.

Nevertheless, Lovecraft is certainly a talented writer and his ideas are exceedingly progressive. I like his
...more
Jen
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-freebie
I know I read and reviewed this, but can’t find it, o doing again. I agree with Tadiana who was positive towards this because cats! But then animal cruelty?! I hated the animal cruelty, but there is a nice comeuppance at the end, so kind of ok? 4, don’t mess with cats, stars.
Kristina
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"It is said that in Ulthar which lies beyond the river Skai,no man may kill a cat"
Lovecraft goes Grimm! To me,as a huge fan of dark folk tales, as well as cats, this little charming tale is truly an eye candy.
...more
Shant
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lovecraft
Talk about misleading title! I started reading this short story expecting typical Lovecraft with little cat flavor. So basically I wanted to read about cute, chaotic, cosmic powerful cats doing cute things and taking names while bunch of people run around and get crazy when they see these CCCP cats. What I got was a study on law interpretation and enforcement in town of Ulthar. (couldn't find it on the map, probably in Utah)

Ulthars Police Force
Member of Ulthars Police Force

Now, I'm not going to lie, giving away
...more
Βασίλειος Μέγας
Who doesn't love a cat?
Elaine
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, cat
What a weird short story. I don't normally bother with short story's but been a cat lover I read this one, I found it to be straight to the point about cat haters and how I wished the villagers had sorted them out. Did the black kitten really get killed? But in the end the cat haters got there justice.
It was strange how a story of only six pages managed to drag me in and make me feel like I was the village story telling at its best
Lindsay
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This almost reads like a Grimm's fairytale, and was my first exposure to Lovecraft's affinity for cats :-) Part of the dream cycle, which revolves around the mighty The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Short but memorable.
Lisa
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This short story is the perfect mix of fantasy, folklore and horror. And cats. Creepy cats.

(view spoiler)

Sincerely,

More of a Dog Person
J L Shioshita
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here's another of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle/Fantasy tales I enjoy, probably because I'm a cat person, and because anybody that @&$%'s with felines deserves to be devoured alive.
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Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a
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Other books in the series

Dream Cycle (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Polaris
  • The White Ship
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath
  • Celephaïs
  • Ex Oblivione
  • The Quest of Iranon
  • The Other Gods
  • What the Moon Brings
  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
  • The Silver Key
“It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroë and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle’s lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.” 4 likes
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