One day, while enjoying the warm weather and reading a book, a large white cat jumped onto the narrator's lap. Although he found pleasure in caressing the cat, he also felt a strange desire to strangle it.
Nothing is softer, nothing gives to the skin a sensation more delicate, more refined, more rare, than the warm, living coat of a cat.
He recalled a childhood memory of watching a cat caught in a snare, struggling and suffocating, and feeling a cruel joy in its suffering.
The narrator compared the cat's charm and treachery to certain women who are enchanting yet deceitful. He mentioned that many poets, including Baudelaire, have loved cats and written about them.
During a trip to the Mediterranean, the narrator stayed in a castle with a mysterious history. In the middle of the night, he awoke to see two fiery eyes watching him in the darkness. After searching the room and finding nothing, he went back to sleep and had a vivid dream of traveling to the Orient and meeting a beautiful, exotic woman.
Upon waking, he felt something soft and warm against his cheek and realized it was a cat.
I feel in her the desire she has to bite and scratch me. I feel it—that same desire, as if it were an electric current communicated from her to me.
He wondered how the cat had entered his locked room, and his host later revealed that the castle had secret passages in the walls, allowing the cat to roam freely throughout the house. The narrator marveled at the cat's ability to know all the secrets and shames of the house, and thought of Baudelaire's poetry about cats.