This page contains short stories that have a dog or cat as a main character or one of them plays an important role in the plot. The dog and cat stories are divided into their own sections. See also:
For stories where animals talk or are stand-ins for humans, see:
For an anthology, you might like My Very Good, Very Bad Dog. It has 101 short and true dog stories that are funny, moving or interesting. If you like some mystery with your dogs, you might like the anthology Hound Dunnit.
Short Stories About Dogs
“Why Chicken Means So Much to Me” by Sherman Alexie
The narrator tells us the worst thing about being poor. It’s not hunger, as you might think. He tells the story of the time his best friend Oscar, his dog, got sick.
“Why Chicken Means So Much to Me” is the second story in the preview of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This book is full of great stories.
“Memoirs of a Yellow Dog” by O. Henry
A yellow dog briefly narrates its life story. It comes to live with an annoying woman with a henpecked husband. He feels an affinity for the man and tries to help them both.
This is the tenth story in the preview of Complete Stories. (In the table of contents, select The Four Million, then “Memoirs of a Yellow Dog”)
“I was born a yellow pup; date, locality, pedigree and weight unknown.”
—Memoirs of a Yellow Dog
“The Good Food” by Michael Ezell
Jensen’s ship touches down on a jungle world, a planet that was terraformed two hundred years prior. It’s been decades since anyone visited. He’s accompanied by Roy, a dog that’s been enhanced to allow some communication. He’s also assisted by his ship’s AI system, Moira. Jensen’s been sent to collect some samples due to an anomaly that was detected. Some of the planet’s growth has been cleared, although there are no life-forms other than insects.
This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge. (28% into preview)
“The Big Snip” by Thomas Pluck
Christina is the new girl in the van. She works with Sharon with Neuter Scooter, a mobile spay and neuter service. She’s learning to do the job quickly and properly. One day, Sharon notices something about their supplies.
This story can be read in the preview of Dark City Lights: New York Stories. (33% in)
“Argos” by Joy Williams
Argos, the hound who belonged to Odysseus, tells his history. He waited twenty years for his master’s return, and he recognized him, despite the disguise. The master didn’t acknowledge him.
This story can be read in the preview of xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths. (34% in)
“To Build a Fire” by Jack London
In the Yukon, a man is traveling on foot with a husky in the wilderness to meet some acquaintances. It’s – 75 degrees and even though he’s careful, he breaks through some ice and soaks his boots, necessitating a fire.
Read “To Build a Fire” (Includes Summary & Analysis)
“A Dark-Brown Dog” by Stephen Crane
A dog follows a small boy home, even though the boy tries to scare the dog away with beatings. They become close, but the other members of the family continue to treat the dog badly. (Summary)
“A Dog’s Tale” by Mark Twain
A dog tells her story. She was born to a kind and brave mother. She was sold to a new owner when she grew up, which caused great sadness for them both. She moves to a fine home with a family that treats her well. In the winter, there’s an emergency in the house.
Read “A Dog’s Tale”
“Roog” by Philip K. Dick
Early in the morning, a dog watches the activity around his house. He sees a “roog” approaching the gate. The dog tries to defend its home and warn those inside. The owners, the Cardossi’s, don’t respond to his warning.
“The Stray Dog” by Sadeq Hedayat
A Scottish setter hangs around the town square. It suffers from hunger and fatigue. People kick it and throw rocks at it to drive it away. The dog still has memories of its old, happy life but they’re fading.
Read “The Stray Dog”
“Dog Star” by Arthur C. Clarke
The narrator, an astronomer, is awakened by barking, but it’s only in his dream. He and the dog, Laika, are separated by five years and a quarter of a million miles. He remembers how they came together and grew close.
Read “Dog Star” (scroll down)
“The Dog” by Banjo Patterson
The narrator praises the dog’s work ethic. He focuses on the abilities of the sheep-dog. Their reasoning is top notch and they have no time for idleness.
Read “The Dog”
“In the Zoo” by Jean Stafford
A visit to a zoo reminds two sisters of a childhood friend, an alcoholic with a lot of animals, who gave them a puppy. Their foster mother had a bad effect on the dog.
“How to Touch a Bleeding Dog” by Rod Kessler
A man takes a dog to the vet when it gets hit by a car. He’s responsible for it, but it’s not his—it’s his wife’s, but she’s no longer with him.
“The Baron’s Wonderful Dog” by R. E. Raspe
A hunter goes out looking for partridges with his wife, his lieutenant, a servant, and his dog. When he comes across some partridges, he finds that only his dog is still with him.
“The End of Old Horse” by Simon J. Ortiz
Two brothers, Native American boys, go to a creek to fish and keep cool on a hot day. On their way, they see Old Horse, a dog, tied up, straining excitedly against his rope. They tell the owner, but he says to ignore it.
“A Fire-Fighters Dog” by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Chance, a dog, lives near a fire station in London. He goes there repeatedly despite being brought home by his master. Eventually, he is allowed to stay.
“Uncle Dick’s Rolf” by Georgiana M. Craik
Uncle Dick tells the story of when he and his dog Rolf were out walking on a perfect African summer day. Dick decides he wants to go for a swim. As he undresses, Rolf interferes, excitedly jumping up at him and trying to drag him away from the river bank.
“Ulysses and the Dogman” by O. Henry
The streets of New York are full of men obligated to take their dogs for a walk. Two men who haven’t seen each other in five years, Jim and Sam, meet up and decide they need a drink.
Short Stories About Cats
If you’re interested in an anthology, you might like The Sophisticated Cat: A Gathering of Stories, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings About Cats. It includes 31 short stories.
If you like your cats mixed with a little mystery, you might enjoy the anthology Cat Crimes II. There are other books in this series as well.
“Phut Phat Concentrates” by Lillian Jackson Braun
Phut Phat has been living in the apartment with his humans, ONE and TWO, for over a year. Life is comfortable with a reliable routine. One Sunday, things seem different. ONE and TWO are distracted, don’t pay him much attention and even forget to feed him for a while. They’re getting ready for something.
This story can be read in the preview of The Cat Who Had 14 Tales. (22% in)
“The Cats of Ulthar” by H.P. Lovecraft
In the town of Ulthar, an old couple takes pleasure in killing any cats that stray onto their property. The townspeople are afraid of them and stay away, but when a kitten from a group of travelers goes missing, they take action.
This story can be read in the preview of The Great Old Ones: Complete Lovecraft. (select in table of contents)
“Tobermory” by Saki
At a party at a country house, a guest announces that he can teach animals to speak. As proof he produces the host’s cat, Tobermory, who proceeds to embarrass the guests by revealing details of private conversations.
This is the third story in the preview of The Chronicles of Clovis.
“Science had made bewildering strides in many directions during recent decades, but this thing seemed to belong to the domain of miracle rather than to scientific achievement.”
“The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat” by Saki
Jocantha Bessbury is a comfortable and contented wife. She suspects that only her cat, Attab, is more contented than herself. Wanting to spread good cheer, Jocantha decides to buy theatre tickets and give them away to a shop girl who couldn’t afford them on her own. Meanwhile, the cat goes about his usual routine.
“Edward the Conqueror” by Roald Dahl
A woman rescues a stray cat that seems to show appreciation for the piano music she plays. She comes to believe that the cat is the reincarnation of a famous composer.
“The Cat” by Banjo Paterson
The narrator explains the character of cats and how they get satisfaction from life. He contrasts the cat’s behavior in a domesticated and a free environment.
“L. T.’s Theory of Pets” by Stephen King
L. T. likes to tell the story of how his wife left him, but he doesn’t like talking about how she’s likely dead now, a victim of the Axe Man. Arriving home from work one day he found the garage door open and her car gone. Inside, there’s a note from her on the fridge telling him she’s left him and detailing her reasons. L. T. believes a lot of their problems came from their two pets—a dog she bought for him and a cat he bought for her. She says she’s going to her mother’s but she never arrives.
“The Cat From Hell” by Stephen King
A hitman, Halston, meets with an old, sick looking man in a wheelchair. The man got his name from a reliable go-between. He has a target he needs eliminated. Surprisingly, the target is in the room with them.
Read “The Cat From Hell”
“An Incident” by Anton Chekhov
Two children wake up one morning, tired and unmotivated, until they hear that the cat has had kittens. The children become focused on the kittens, losing interest in their usual activities. The rest of the family doesn’t care very much.
“The Garden of Stubborn Cats” by Italo Calvino
As a city in Italy has expanded, it has restricted the movement of cats. On his lunch break, Marcovaldo follows a cat and discovers some of its world, eventually finding a garden of cats on an undeveloped piece of land.
Read “The Garden of the Stubborn Cats”
“Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway
An American couple is on vacation in Italy. The wife looks out the window at the rain and sees a cat huddled under a table. She wants to go down and take it in out of the rain.
“The Town of Cats” by Hagiwara Sakutaro
The narrator used to take many drug-induced voyages. They had a bad effect on his health. He starts taking long walks, ending up in an unfamiliar, charming town. He relates one such walk he took while staying at a resort.
Cats only make a brief appearance in this story.
“Schrödinger’s Cat” by Ursula K. Le Guin
The narrator lives in a confusing world where things are very literal. He or she (?) also feels an unfocused sense of grief. The arrival of the mailman opens the possibility of an experiment.
“The Voice” by Silvina Ocampo
The narrator, a young woman, goes to her boyfriend’s house with her new cat. She doesn’t want to marry Romirio. She can’t stand his voice.
“The Patient Cat” by Laura E. Richards
A spotted cat finds an empty nest. It decides to be patient and watch it for a while. The next week, there are two eggs in it. They’re good but chicks would be even better.
Read “The Patient Cat”
I’ll keep adding short stories about dogs and cats as I find more.