CHORUS: Goodness me! Why, what was that?
DICK: Silent be, it was the cat!
CHORUS: It was, it was the cat!
CAPTAIN: They're right! It was the cat!
— The H.M.S. Pinafore by W.S. Gilbert
A Cat Scare is a horror trope. In it, a moment of tension is relieved by something harmless appearing - such as a cat. This will make it much more effective when the real monster appears shortly afterward, as the protagonists are already off-balance from the Cat Scare itself.
Even unseen cats can knock over stray items, move small items and generally lead to heightened paranoia.
Compare and contrast that poor cat - where the scare goes the other way.
Game and Story Use
- These can be very effective in horror adventures, so think of something harmless that could nevertheless trigger a false alarm among the player characters when they expect something horrible or dangerous. Don't do that too often, though - or the whole scene will get silly.
- Especially if one of the characters has ailurophobia. Ah… comedy gold.
- Or the cat actually turns out to have been the real monster making a run for it.
- Trigger happy PCs may need to make self control rolls.
- Also, a good way of getting by guards who are too genre savvy and pass off all strange noises as the villain's pet cat making a nuisance of itself.
- Speaking of which, and falling somewhere between the cat scare and the poor cat, is that moment where the PC botches a stealth roll and plants his foot squarely on the tail of some previously undetected moggy (or other small, noisy creature).