Short, scary ghost stories

short, scary Ghost Stories home | Classic Ghost Stories

Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell


page 15 of 15 | page 1 | Table of Contents

Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter

"Before a death in a house I have watched a cat show gradually increasing signs of uneasiness. It has moved from place to place, unable to settle in any one spot for any length of time, had frequent fits of shivering, gone to the door, sniffed the atmosphere, thrown back its head and mewed in a low, plaintive key, and shown the greatest reluctance to being alone in the dark.

"This faculty--possessed by certain cats--may in some measure explain certain of the superstitions respecting them. Take, for example, that of cats crossing one's path predicting death.

"The cat is drawn to the spot because it scents the phantom of death, and cannot resist its magnetic attraction.

"From this, it does not follow that the person who sees the cat is going to die, but that death is overtaking someone associated with that person; and it is in connection with the latter that the spirit of the grave is present, employing, as a medium of prognostication, the cat, which has been given the psychic faculty of smell that it might be so used.

"But although I regard this theory as very feasible, I do not attribute to cats, with the same degree of certainty, the power to presage good fortune, simply because I have had no experience of it myself. Yet, adopting the same lines of argument, I see no reason why cats should not prognosticate good as well as evil.

"There may be phantoms representative of prosperity, in just the same manner as there are those representative of death; they, too, may also have some distinguishing scent (flowers have various odours, so why not spirits?) and certain cats, i.e. white cats in particular, may be attracted by it.

"This becomes all the more probable when one considers how very impressionable the cat is--how very sensitive to kindness. There are some strangers with whom the cat will at once make friends, and others whom it will studiously avoid. Why? The explanation, I fancy, lies once more in the occult--in the cat's psychic faculty of smell. Kind people attract benevolently disposed phantoms, which bring with them an agreeably scented atmosphere, that, in turn, attracts cats. The cat comes to one person because it knows by the smell of the atmosphere surrounding him, or her, that it has nothing to fear--that the person is essentially gentle and benignant. On the contrary, cruel people attract malevolent phantoms, distinguishable also to the cat by their smell, a smell typical of cruelty--often of homicidal lunacy (I have particularly noticed how cats have shrunk from people who have afterwards become dangerously insane). Is this sense of smell, then, the keynote to the halo of mystery that has for all times surrounded the cat--that has led to its bitter persecution--that has made it the hero of fairy lore, the pet of old maids? I believe it is--I believe that in this psychic faculty of smell lies, in degree, the solution to the oft-asked riddle--why is the cat uncanny? Having then satisfied oneself on this point, namely, that cats are in the possession of rare psychic properties, is it likely that the Unknown Powers which have so endowed them, should withhold from them either souls or spirits? Is it not contrary to reason, instinct, and observation to suppose that the many thoroughly material and grossly minded people--people whose whole beings are steeped in money worship--we see around us every day should have spirits, and that pretty, refined and artistic-looking cats, whose occult powers place them in the very closest connection with the superphysical, should not? Monstrous--the bare conception of such incongruity in the one case, and such an omission in the other, is inconceivable, wholly irreconcilable with the notion of any other than a mummer of a creator--a mere court fool of a God."