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As a black cat creeps down a tree in the front yard of a mansion, inside the mansion Nora Cavigny sleepwalks to her father's den, extracts a pistol from a desk drawer and returns to her bedroom. Awakened by his daughter, Nora's dozing father, Dr. Lester Cavigny, follows her to her room and after gently waking her, reassures her that she is safe. The next day, at the Medical Research Center, Cavigny argues with his partner, Dr. Borden, about continuing their experiment to develop a phosphorescent serum derived from cats that would help illuminate internal organs during surgery. Cavigny, fearing that they result in mutilation and death, wants to terminate the experiments, but Borden overrules him and orders their lab technician, Gwen Runstrom, to arrange for a shipment of cats from the West Indies, the site of their previous experiments. Eavesdropping on their conversation is Dr. Van Glock, who works at an adjacent laboratory. When Nora visits the building, Van Glock's partner and Gwen's fiancé, Dr. John Reade, offers to show her around his lab. Nora, who developed an aversion to cats while in the Indies with her father, panics and flees when she sees Creeper, the lab's slender black cat who sports one white paw. That night, Nora is awakened by the sound of a cat and is terrified when she sees a huge white paw at her bedroom window. The next day, Nora goes to apologize to John for her behavior, and Van Glock overhears her tell John about her father's work with phosphorescense. Nora also explains that she developed a dread of cats because the natives in the Indies believe that people assume the shape of cat after death. Nora recalls that one night, after dreaming about a cat claw, she learned that a man's wife had just turned white and died. To comfort Nora, John invites her to dinner, and when Gwen discovers their date, she becomes jealous and suggests that Nora seek psychiatric help. Soon after, Andre Dussaud, an employee of Cavigny and Borden, arrives from the Indies with five cats. Nora's fear of the animals causes her to go into a trance, and later that night, her father is found dead, and Nora is arrested as a suspect because she has blood on her hands. After she is released for insufficient evidence, Nora moves in with Gwen, thus increasing the tensions between them. Andrew dozes at the lab that night, then awakens to see a giant white claw coming at him. The next morning, his body is found clawed to death in the ransacked lab. Afterward, Nora confides to John that Andre's death has released her from her fears. She explains that Andre's wife was the woman who died in the Indies as a result of her father's experiments, and hence, she believed that Andre had returned to seek revenge. Later, John goes to the lab and finds Gwen's dead body, the cats roaming free and a fire burning in the sink. At the Cavigny house, meanwhile, Nora discovers her father's hidden formula and burns it in the fireplace. Just as John returns from the lab, Nora, who had noticed a shadowy figure lurking around the house, fires her gun into the darkness, wounding John. Creeper then slinks into the house, followed by Borden. After revealing that he killed Gwen, Cavigny and Andre for hampering the development of his experiments, Borden announces that Nora is to be his next victim. He then injects himself with a dose of the serum and Nora watches in horror as his hand turns into a large white claw. Borden is about to claw Nora to death when John shoots him. Later, realizing that Borden was planning to drive her mad to gain access to her father's papers, Nora decides to forget about cats and proceed with her life.