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Ellen Datlow



I would like to thank Daniel Braum, Dave Hinchberger, Jacob Weisman, John Joseph Adams, John Kessel, George Scithers, Colleen Kelly, Eleanor Lang, Charles Tan, Gord Sellar, and Richard Bowes for their recommendations and encouragement.


What is it about cats? Why do they lend themselves to fiction so easily? There have been numerous anthologies of cat stories, several of them multi-volume series. There is no other animal about which writers from all genres seem to be obsessed. Mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories have been written about cats.

It's possible that felines, thought to be domesticated by happenstance rather than intent, are considered more mysterious, and thus more interesting to write about than other animals. Canines are pretty up front about their feelings—they're considered to be loyal, obedient, and cheerful. Dogs, the oldest domesticated animal, have anthropomorphized themselves—become more like people. Cats have done very little of that. They are still strangers in the house. The cat does what it wants and goes its own way, which conjures up the darker images of willfulness, self-interest, and mystery.

It's said that one is a dog person or a cat person. I've been both. I grew up with a wonderful cocker spaniel I adored and took "exploring" in the suburban woods across from where I lived. I don't recall seeing many cats. All I knew of these mysterious creatures was that they chased and ate mice in the weird, silent, black and white, very primitive "Farmer Grey" cartoons of my childhood, and that my aunt living in West Germany would write regular letters to me reporting on her cat's antics. It, and as a result she, were always in trouble with the neighbors for its skill at killing birds.

It wasn't until I moved to Manhattan that I acquired (through a roommate) my first cat. The roommate moved in, immediately brought home two kittens, and then fled Manhattan after a couple of months, leaving me with one kitten because her parents wouldn't let her take both back to Ann Arbor. I was suddenly a cat owner, soon acquiring a second, older cat (who lived to be twenty-three plus), and was soon faced with my own dead or dying birds—a roof adjoining my apartment allowed my cats limited roaming area.

Since then I've always owned cats. Or have they owned me?

The stories herein are culled from anthologies, magazines, and collections, most published from 1980–2009, a few (such as the Lewis Carroll excerpt and the John Crowley and Stephen King stories) in the late 70s. There are stories in which cats are the heroes and some in which they're the villains. There are domestic cats, tigers, lions, mythical part-cat beings, people transformed into cats, and cats transformed into people. There's science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, and even one mainstream cat story. And yes, a few cute cats.

This is not my first cat anthology. I edited Twists of the Tale in 1996—it consisted of mostly original horror stories, three of them reprinted in this book.


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