In a somewhat similar vein to the 1942 film Cat People, the 1957 British-American film Cat Girl is based on the same premise of a woman being able to turn into a cat. The main character, Leonora, is unhappily married and suffers from the family curse, that of turning into a leopard. After taking revenge on her cheating husband by tearing him to shreds as her leopard alter ego, she comes to a tragic end when she, as the cat, is struck by a car and dies. Both films end with the deaths of the women and cats. Their power and savagery must be extinguished.
At the beginning of the film, Leonora is summoned to her family’s mansion. Even though she has been told not to bring her husband, she does. It is apparent that the couple is not in love, and at the outset the husband, Richard, doesn’t even bother to hide his attraction to Cathy, a friend who has come along for the weekend. Leonora’s eccentric Uncle Edmund informs her that she is to receive the family inheritance, but it comes with the price of the family’s curse. In each generation of the family one member has his or her soul melded with that of the pet leopard. The leopard, directed telepathically, kills innocent victims to appease the blood cravings of the cursed family member. The uncle, knowing that he is about to die, allows the leopard to kill him and thus passes the curse to Leonora.
Leonora’s travelling companions, unaware of the curse, continue to have a good time boozing it up. Soon Leonora catches her husband, Richard, kissing Cathy in the woods and flies into a jealous rage and the leopard kills Richard while Cathy is able to get away. Overcome with guilt, Leonora confesses that she has murdered her husband, but no one really believes her, as it was clearly a leopard attack. The police refer her to a psychiatrist, Dr. Brian Marlowe, who tells her she is simply delusional. In her cell, she hears the leopard outside. Marlowe releases Leonora only to have her stalk Mrs. Marlowe. Dr. Marlowe drives up and hits the leopard just before it’s able to kill his wife. Leonora is found in the street a short distance away as if she too has been hit by a car.