[[caption-width-right:300:[[RussianReversal In this movie,]] ''[[IncrediblyLamePun pussy eats you!]]'']]

->''"Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness."''
-->-- ''The Anatomy of Atavism - Dr. Louis Judd''

Classic 1942 horror film produced by Creator/ValLewton, directed by Creator/JacquesTourneur.

Irena is a Serbian woman living in America who believes that if she is ever kissed by a man, she will transform into a deadly panther due to a family curse brought on by medieval dabbling in witchcraft. Her American co-workers try to persuade her otherwise, including a man who wants to marry her. Turns out, she's right and they're wrong.

Spawned a sequel ([[InNameOnly kind of]]), ''The Curse of the Cat People'', which follows two of the characters from the first film and (apparently) a third one who had seemed to be dead at its end; it didn't really deal with the "cat people" angle at all, and dropped the "dangerous sexuality" theme in favour of exploring the importance of childhood imagination. It's not even in the same genre as the original, being more of a drama about family life than a horror film.

There was also a 1982 remake by Creator/PaulSchrader starring Creator/MalcolmMcDowell and Creator/NastassjaKinski; it was more of what would later be called a "reimagining" than a straight remake, as it made Irena the protagonist rather than Oliver, introduced a new male co-lead in the form of her brother Paul, and changed the cat people's origins from medieval witchcraft to prehistoric HumanSacrifice. It was also a great deal [[BloodierAndGorier bloodier]] and more [[HotterAndSexier salacious]] than the original, and generally preferred to show what the original merely suggested. It's also notable for the soundtrack, a collaboration between Music/GiorgioMoroder and Music/DavidBowie.

See CatFolk for feline humanoids. See ''WebAnimation/CatPerson'' for a series of Internet shorts.


[[folder:Cat People (1942)]]
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Alice revealing her love to Oliver at the office.
* AnimalsHateHer: The kitten Oliver buys for Irena hisses when she approaches it; when they go to the pet store to exchange it for a bird all the animals become agitated. Later, the bird dies of fright when Irena picks it up. Lampshaded by the pet store worker: "[[EvilDetectingDog Animals are ever so psychic]]. There are some people who just can't come in here."
* AssholeVictim: [[spoiler: Dr. Judd.]]
* BeautifulDreamer: At one point Irena watches Oliver sleep. When he wakes up, they talk about it.
* BettyAndVeronica: Alice and Irena.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Dr. Judd, who turns out to be more interested in seducing Irena that curing her.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:[[TheHeroDies The Heroine Dies]]]], but this enables Oliver to move on and lead a more satisfying relationship with Alice.
* CantHaveSexEver: Irena will turn into a killer cat if this happens.
* CatScare: A pioneering example in the original, often claimed (especially by the makers) to be the first using the brakes of a bus to make a sound very like the hissing of a great cat. Further uses would become known as Lewton's Bus.
* CatapultNightmare: How Irena wakes from a bad dream she has about her therapist posing as King John.
* ChekhovsGun: The key to the panther's cage.
** Also the SwordCane, which the therapist later uses during his fight with the black panther.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: How Oliver and the other characters see Irena.
* TheCloudcuckoolanderWasRight: What Oliver and Alice [[SkepticNoLonger belatedly realize]] about Irena's stories about the cat curse.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Irena fled her DoomedHometown because of the ancient curse.
* DeathOfTheHypotenuse: [[spoiler:Irena's]] death resolves the dilemma of the LoveTriangle.
* DisappearedDad: Downplayed. Irena mentions that her father died before she was born.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Irena, by releasing the panther.]]
* {{Eagleland}}: A number of subtle examples. Oliver and Alice are essentially decent but are patronizing towards anything or anyone foreign. Alice finds Dr. Judd's hand-kissing (an Eastern European custom) grotesque, and Oliver pointedly orders apple pie at the diner, refusing the gumbo (leading the waitress to say "don't nobody like chicken gumbo?") And of course he is dismissive of Irena's Serbian background and stories.
* FilmNoir: A classic example featuring EmergingFromTheShadows and SmokingIsCool.
* FourthDateMarriage: Oliver and Irena.
* HarassingPhoneCall: Alice receives two of them from Irena who hangs up after hearing a female voice on the other end (office).
* HollywoodHistory: Irena's tale involves one King John of Serbia who freed Serbia from "the Mamelukes". Well, there was a "King"--or rather an "Emperor"--John, but he fought the Hungarians during the Ottoman invasion and a subsequent Hungarian War of Succession in an effort to carve out his own Serbian kingdom--not the Mamelukes, who were Egyptian. He also didn't rule very long--ultimately his rule wound up letting the Turks conquer most of Serbia...
* HollywoodPsych: A shrink in the original tries to convince Irena that her belief that she'll turn into a great cat if a man kisses her is just a delusion fostered by fear of male sexuality. He tries this out with a... ''practical demonstration''. [[spoiler: It doesn't work out the way he thought it would.]]
** He's also hilariously [[AllPsychologyIsFreudian Freudian]], absolutely convinced that her belief comes ''entirely'' from her own mind, despite it being established as a folktale from her Serbia.
* HumanToWerewolfFootprints: Werepanther-to-human footprints. The FootprintsOfMuck leading away from the site of the slaughtered sheep change from pawprints to tracks left by what are apparently [[MagicPants magic high-heeled shoes]].
* INeedAFreakingDrink: Alice mentions this towards the end when things get really messy.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: When Dr. Judd says that Oliver can either divorce Irena (and leave her with the stigma involved) or institutionalize her and be obligated to take care of her forever without the possibility of divorce, Alice immediately says that the latter would be the right thing to do, even though it would mean she wouldn't get to marry Oliver.
* KindHeartedCatLover: Alice, who plays with several cats throughout the movie.
* LackOfEmpathy: Though Oliver respects Irena's requests for a lack of intimacy, he can't wrap his mind around why she insists until the truth becomes apparent at the end of the film. Somewhat justified in that most people ''would'' think their spouse was a little nuts for believing they'd turn into a deadly animal if they were so much as kissed.
* LoveTriangle: Between Irena, Alice and Oliver. The dilemma is being resolved via DeathOfTheHypotenuse.
* NightSwimEqualsDeath: Subverted. It doesn't actually end with a death, but the suspense built up around it makes it look like it will.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Serbian immigrant Irena is played by French actress Simone Simon, who doesn't attempt to hide her French accent.
* NothingIsScarier: One of the most famous examples is the "Lewton Bus" scene, in which Alice is shown looking over her shoulder, walking faster and faster as the camera zooms in on her terrified face, before we are startled by a hiss. Spoiler: It's actually the hydraulic brakes on a passing bus. This scene is still terrifying over 70 years later!
** The film also makes a great deal of implication rather than outright explaining things, leaving a lot to the imagination.
* OurWerebeastsAreDifferent: Humans turning into panthers in sexual situations.
* PerpSweating: A variation where the therapist uses a beamer to put Irena under hypnosis.
* {{Ruritania}}: How all-American Oliver regards Irena's homeland Serbia with its crazy folktales and superstitions.
* SassyBlackWoman: Minnie, the waitress at Sally Lunn's.
* {{Sensual Slav|s}}: Irena comes across as this at first.
* SexIsEvil: In both versions, though the 1942 version requires a much smaller trigger to the evilness.
* SexyCatPerson: Both versions heavily play on the stereotypical association of cats with female sexuality.
* ShadowDiscretionShot: The fight between the therapist and the panther is depicted as a shadow play against a wall.
* TheShrink: A combination of Type 1 and 2. Though he seems to act in Irena's best interest, his actions ultimately lead to her demise.
* SkepticNoLonger: Oliver by the end of the movie.
* SmugSnake: Dr. Judd.
* SurpriseVehicle: Lewton's Bus. It helps that Alice has NoPeripheralVision and is [[JumpScare taken by surprise]] when the bus rushes into view.
* SwordCane: The therapist has such a cane. [[spoiler:It doesn't help him though.]]
* [[ThisWasHisTrueForm This Was Her True Form]]: When [[spoiler:Irena]] dies, she turns into a panther.
* TragicHero: Irena, aware and in fear of her cat curse, still enters into an ill-fated relationship.
* WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove: Oliver asks this himself after Alice's [[AnguishedDeclarationOfLove pours her heart out to him]].
* {{Yandere}}: Averted; though a jealous Ilena follows Alice twice in a sinister manner and even looks ready to [[NightSwimEqualsDeath kill her while she's taking a swim]], [[spoiler:not to mention apparently appearing to Alice and Oliver as a panther ready to kill them both]] she only scares her.

[[folder:The Curse of the Cat People (1944)]]
* ChildrenAreSpecial: Oliver and Alice's daughter Amy.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: How Amy's classmates and at times her own father see her.
* CoolOldLady: Averted. Julia Farren is kind to Amy but rejects her own daughter, possibly because of mental illness or dementia.
* DefrostingTheIceQueen: Barbara, who was ready to strangle Amy, stops when Amy, mistaking her for Irina, calls her her "friend."
* FantasyForbiddingFather: Oliver demands that Amy give up her dream world and is furious when she doesn't. He becomes more understanding at the end of the film, however.
* ForYourOwnGood: Oliver believes he is helping Amy when he demands she give up her dream world.
* HollywoodNewEngland
* HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday: Amy runs outside into a blizzard and is nearly strangled by Barbara during the Christmas season.
* ImaginaryFriend: Irena to Amy. It is unclear if she exists only in Amy's imagination or not.
* InvisibleToAdults: Irena (or her ghost) can only be seen by Amy.
* InNameOnly: ''The Curse of the Cat People'' has very little in common with ''Cat People'' beyond featuring the three main characters of the first film.
* LackOfEmpathy: Oliver is guilty of this with his daughter Amy where he scolds and punishes her for not giving up her fantasy world. He is clearly remorseful by the end.
* NeverTrustATrailer: The trailer makes the film seem like a horror film, presenting Irena's ghost as a threat to Amy.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Serbian-born Irena sings a lovely Christmas carol to Amy--[[AsLongAsItSoundsForeign in French]].
* PrettyButterflies: Amy slaps a boy for accidentally crushing one of these.
* ThatThingIsNotMyChild: Julia Farren, who may have dementia, is convinced that her long suffering adult daughter Barbara is an imposter and that her real daughter died in childhood.
* WomenAreWiser: Alice and Amy's teacher Miss Callahan are far more understanding of Amy's fantasies than her father.

[[folder: Additional tropes from the 1982 remake of Cat People]]
* AnArmAndALeg: Caged in panther form, Paul rips the arm off one of his keepers. Realistically, the man dies of blood loss.
* AscendedExtra: The character of Paul is derived from the panther at the zoo who fascinates Irena. As in the original, Oliver and Irena first meet while she's sketching him. But in the original the panther seems to be nothing more than an ordinary animal, while here he's her brother and another cat person.
* TheBigEasy: The film's setting is moved to New Orleans, and Schrader makes the most of the atmosphere of the city and the surrounding bayou.
* BrotherSisterIncest: The remake offers this as the solution to a piece of FridgeLogic from the original: if the werecats kill everyone they have sex with, how did they keep their lineage going for all these generations? Only by doing it with each other. Paul wants to keep this tradition up with Irena, much to her horror.
* CreepyHousekeeper: Paul's housekeeper Femalé is hospitable, but she has a very voodoo vibe about her and is very loyal to Paul, helping him avoid punishment for his crimes.
* DeusSexMachina: The werepanthers' transformation is triggered by sex.
* DistantPrologue: The film opens in what appears to be a Neolithic village, where the locals offer up a young woman as a sacrifice to the leopards.
* GreenEyes: Irena has green eyes and is a werepanther. Her brother, however, also a werepanther, has violet eyes. The title song (by David Bowie) begins, "See these eyes so green..."
* HumanSacrifice: In this version, Paul and Irena are cat people because their ancestors sacrificed their children to leopards. "The souls of the children grew inside the leopards until they became human," Paul explains in an expository DreamSequence.
* TheLoinsSleepTonight: Paul picks up a blonde in a cemetery, takes her to bed, and can't get it up. He says mournfully that he prayed that "it" wouldn't happen again; she comforts him that she knows how to take care of guys like him, and will make it better. And then "it" turns out to be, not failing to get it up, but turning into a black leopard and eating her.
* MyInstinctsAreShowing: The first time Irena comes close to transforming, she strips off and hunts a rabbit in the bayou. Earlier, when frightened, she leaps to the top of wall. Her brother Paul often climbs trees and after a transformation, will eat the leftover skin clinging to his body.
* OurWerebeastsAreDifferent: Only sex with another werecat prevents the transformation from and into human form, and if a werecat has sex with a human, the only way they can change back is to kill someone.
* PervertedSniffing: Paul does this to his estranged sister Irena. However, they are, of course, werecats and it's a part of their animalistic bonding ritual. Paul wants Irena to be his mate.
* ThePowerOfLove: [[spoiler:Irena's love for Oliver overpowers her instinct to kill him, even when she's in panther form]].
* PsychicLink: Paul and Irena seem to have a mild one; she can sense when he's distressed and eventually recognizes him in cat form.
* ShoutOut:
** References to Creator/DanteAlighieri and Beatrice are sprinkled in the film, reflecting Schrader's view that Oliver's obsession with Irena stems from his "[[TheDulcineaEffect Beatrice complex]]."
** Sharp-eyed viewers will note that Oliver has a book by Creator/YukioMishima on his nightstand. This is also a meta bit of {{Foreshadowing}} as Schrader would make a [[Film/MishimaALifeInFourChapters film about Mishima]] a few years later.
* SingleMomStripper: The prostitute whom Paul attacks early in the film is late for an appointment because she had to find a babysitter.
* SinisterMinister: It's downplayed, but Paul works at a (colorfully painted) local church. It's not totally clear whether this is meant to counteract his werecat impulses or enable them; there's evidence for both.