The writer of the story builds up an account of domestic incidents that steered him to kill his wife and followed in his sentence and forthcoming death as he was due to be hanged. He further states that he is not a lunatic and feels that his story will be viewed by people as a series of ordinary cause and effect incidents, still the narrator points out that there exists a hint of paranormal in the story he is narrating. The narrator starts off by giving an account of his infancy in order to express to the listener that he had been tenderhearted and loving at some point in time. He refers to his affection for animals and how he was so gentle towards his animals that his friends laughed at him.
As a youngster he married a woman who was quite compatible with his own temperament. She brought in numerous pets into their home realizing his liking for animals. Although they had many pets but one had a particular image, which was big black cat. The cat was exceptional for its size as well as its noticeable cleverness which led the narrator's wife to percept a well-known thought that people regard black cats as witches in masquerade. After the narrator exposes his curiosity in the cat's nature he promptly conceals his tracks by mentioning that he shares the discussions merely because it appears to him not because he lays in weight on it. They labeled the cat as Pluto. Pluto became very close to the narrator and came after him everywhere he went.
On the other hand, the narrator became a drunkard and the outcome was that he turned grumpy and aggressive. At first, he maltreated the less important pets as the rabbits and the monkey. He confesses that soon he even turned violent towards his wife. For some time, Pluto was used to of the crumbling personality of the narrator. Soon, however Pluto lost his favorable status in the eyes of the narrator. At one instance, losing his temper, the narrator cut out the cat's out of its head. Initially, the narrator regrets his behavior, but soon after, he was able to perish the memory with alcohol.
The cat recouped but was distrustful of the narrator. The cat's guardedness annoyed the narrator who out of feelings of disobedience hung the cat. The narrator claims that feeling of disobedience is an element of all human beings and that it is among the savage reflexes of the human heart who has never realized his instincts committing a foul or stupid act for no other reasons rather than he knows when he should not?
On the same hours of darkness, the narrator's residence and all his belongings were destroyed by fire. The following day, the narrator when out of his intoxication saw the cat hung by a rope just besides his bed. Regardless of his reasoning, the narrator was disturbed by the illustration of that cat and soon sensed a need to get a similar cat as a substitute to the old one. One night while he was drunk he found an identical cat at a 'den of more than infamy.' He investigated about its owner as he planned it to purchase it. However, it was owned by no one. The cat accompanied him home.
This cat also had an eye missing just like its predecessor. But it had a white marking on its chest unlike his predecessor. The white marking gave a look of a rope. The cat immediately was like by the narrator's wife but unlike him who almost immediately took a severe dislike to the animal. The more he started to dislike the cat, the more it got fond of him and, in turn, he disliked him yet more. The narrator confesses of an urge to kill the cat but then he used to remember Pluto and his crime, as he feared the cat.
The narrator's description breaks into irrational ramblings and fright. He states that it wasn't a bodily evil that he was scared of. He ridicules against this monster that is following him; a creature formed in the figure of the 'High God.' He depicts that the 'frail remnant' of his kindness was overtaken by immorality.
One day the narrator, his wife, and the cat were going down the stairs into the basement of the building where they used to live. The cat made the narrator stumble on which he got enraged and lifts an axe to kill the cat. The wife stopped the blow on which the narrator grew even fierce and killed his wife instead.
The listener clearly fathoms that the narrator is undependable and at this point the narrator verifies what the reader already believes. The murder was deliberate. He provides the final evidence when he says that with this task finished he could now continue with the task of hiding the body. He goes into facts about the different possibilities he considered before deciding to bury her in a wall in the basement. The narrator goes on to describe in minute detail the process of burying her wife's corpse and of removal of all symptoms of the deed in the basement. While the narrator communicates the details of concealing the body and of the consequent search by authorities, further proof of his untrustworthiness comes to light when he refers to killing his wife as "the assassination."
Following the hideous deed the narrator seems to believe that he had found tranquility. The cat had disappeared and the narrator was sure that nobody would find out about his secret. Investigation and searches were made and no proof was found. However, suspicion must have been in the heads of the policeman. A subsequent search was made at the residence of the narrator. The narrator was convinced that he would not be apprehended and was willing to brag to gratify his own success, so he knocked hard on the wall into which his wife's corpse was concealed and bragged about the solid assemble of the house. Instantly an inhuman cry came out of the tomb.
The police hurriedly broke apart the wall to find the decayed dead body of his wife with the cat perched on her head. The narrator then accuses the cat for his condition saying cat was a monster 'whose dexterity had seduced me into massacre and whose announcing voice had destined him to be hanged. The writer stands not only evil but also insane.