The cover shows a closeup of Rip the Cat's head
It was released in 1998.
Alison Moore's friend Ryan is heading to school for practice. Both are starring in something called "The Princess and the Jewel Thief." Before leaving, Alison watches a scary video with her little brother Tanner. Tanner gets scared, and Alison turns off the video, and leaves. She and Ryan are in such a rush to make it on time that Alison runs over a cat. The force of Alison hitting the cat with her bike sends the cat's head flying out into traffic with a shocked look of surprise on its face.
When Alison races over to the decapitated animal, she discovers that the cat has magically regained its head, but sadly not its life. She wraps the limp body of the cat up in her jacket. Alison figures it probably came from the big house full of cats across the street. Inside the cat house, Alison finds a young girl who introduces herself as Crystal. Crystal is furious upon being told that one of her cats has died. Luckily, the cat chooses that opportunity to come back to life and scramble out of Alison's arms. Crystal changes gears and becomes furious that her cat is alive. Crystal freaks out that Alison killed her cat Rip and screams that her mother is going to be upset. Then she warns Alison that she should not have killed Rip and that Rip is no ordinary cat.
Alison rushes off to practice. Ryan is waiting for her at the school. Alison tells him about the cat coming back to life, but he just mocks her. Mr. Keanes, the teacher in charge of the play, initiates the practice. Then he instructs Alison to get a scepter out of "the Royal Cabinet,". Rip jumps out of the closet and gets tangled up in her hair. She pries the cat from her head and throws it as hard as she can across the stage. This startles the stagehands so badly that they drop the giant king's throne on top of the cat. The children all gather around the flattened animal, only to have the cat come back to life and exit which prompts Mr. Keanes to dismiss practice early.
At dinner, Alison tries to tell her parents about how she killed a cat twice in one afternoon. Unfortunately, they are not interested in anything other than the homemade chicken noodle soup Alison's mother made. Alison becomes less-enamored with the soup than her parents when she somehow scoops a big spoonful of wet cat fur into mouth. She tries to go to her bedroom to relax, only to find her toy mice collection thrown all over the place. At school the next day, the decapitated head of the cat appears in her lunch bag and sticks its tongue out at her.
That night, Rip jumps on Alison's face, while she is sleeping. She responds to getting smothered by gently removing the cat from her face and throwing it out the second-story window. Alison goes outside to investigate whether the cat is dead and Rip scratches her leg but the wound draws no blood. The following morning, Alison finds herself craving tuna fish. At practice that night, she thinks she can land on all fours, so she jumps from the roof of the auditorium onto the stage. Alison's cattiness gets worse, as she hacks up a fur ball. She also starts licking the back of her palms like a cat.
That night, she races off to confront Crystal about Rip. She is shocked to hear that Alison has killed her cat two more times and warns her to watch out, as Rip only has nine lives and he has now used up lives six through eight. Alison promises to avoid another "catastrophe", but soon a strange force compels her towards a pet cemetery. Also Ryan shows up and follows Alison to the pet cemetery. Alison walks among the gravestones until she comes across the RIP: RIP tombstone. She gets on her hands and knees and starts digging up the cat's grave.
Alison finally digs up the cat coffin and opens it to find... the corpse of Rip, which springs out of the coffin and attacks her. Ryan draws her attention to the rumbling ground and smoke pouring out of the gravestones. Rip begins walking on his hind legs and commands the corpses of all the other cats out of their graves. The ghost cats are his slaves and he commands them to take the form of a giant black ghost cat tornado. The ghost cat tornado chases after Alison and Ryan, as they race back to Crystal's house.
Alison ditches Ryan in the chase and convinces Crystal to let her in the house. The young girl finally agrees just as the swirling wall of cats reaches the front door. Crystal tells her they only have a few minutes, before the kitty twister breaks in. She whisks Alison to the other side of the house, insisting that only her mother can help them now. The two walk down the dark basement steps to meet her.
Crystal's mother turns out to be half-cat herself and she purrs with delight upon seeing Alison. See, Rip prolongs his life by stealing lives from humans. Every time he scratches a human, he takes away some of their life and replaces it with cat-life. Crystal's mother did scientific experiments on all the cats from the graveyard and that is why they're now Rip's slaves. She also made a deal with Rip to be his sole human resource provided that he did not harm her daughter. However, she reveals that she no longer has any human life to give Rip, so she is sacrificing Alison to be his new living scratching post. She tries to tell her it will not be so bad, but Alison is resistant to the idea of turning into a horrible half-cat creature.
The ghost cat tornado breaks into the house, led by Rip, who walks on his hind legs down the stairs. Ryan shows up just in time to get scratched by the evil walking cat. All hope seems lost, until Alison remembers that she has a toy mouse with her. She throws the mouse to the ground right in front of Rip. All the ghost cats turn their attention to the mouse and attack, killing Rip for the ninth and final time in the process. Then the ensuing chaos causes the tornado to disappear.
Ryan and Alison are still both half-cat and fight over who gets to eat a field mouse.
Covert Art Gallery
- Rip's name could be a pun on the acronym, R.I.P. An acronym often seen on gravestones which stands for "Rest In Peace".
- Alison and Tanner's mother was mentioned by name in the book: Margo Moore.
- In France, this book was released as the 45th book in the original Goosebumps series.