Is There a Stephen King Connection in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye?

Introduce the Film Cat’s Eye

Cat’s Eye is a 1985 American anthology horror thriller film directed by Lewis Teague and written by Stephen King. It was released in 1985 and stars Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, and Robert Hays.

Cat’s Eye comprises three stories tied together by a stray cat who wanders around New York City. The first segment, “Quitters, Inc.” is about a man who tries to quit smoking with the help of a shady company’s extreme methods. The second segment, “The Ledge”, is about a former tennis pro forced to walk a building’s ledge to settle a gambling debt. The third segment, “The General”, is about a young girl plagued by a sinister troll who lives in her bedroom wall.

Overall, Cat’s Eye is an anthology horror film that ties together three dark tales connected by a stray cat witnessing the events.

Summary of the Dog Character

The dog that chases General the cat in Cat’s Eye is not officially named in the film. However, based on its aggressive behavior towards the cat, some viewers have speculated that it is meant to be a reference to Cujo, the rabid dog from Stephen King’s 1981 novel of the same name that was adapted into a film in 1983.

cat's eye film poster

In Cat’s Eye, the dog is portrayed as relentless in pursuing General any time he comes near the house where it lives. It nearly catches General on multiple occasions, chasing him through traffic and terrorizing him throughout the film’s first segment. The dog’s single-minded focus on attacking General helps establish the high stakes the cat faces in trying to return home.

Physically, the dog is depicted as a mid-to-large-sized mutt with shaggy brown and white fur. It has a muscular build and aggressive face. The dog serves as the primary antagonist General must overcome in the first part of Cat’s Eye before he can continue his journey.

Comparison to Cujo

The dog in Cat’s Eye bears some similarities to the titular dog in Stephen King’s Cujo, though there are also key differences. According to one analysis, the dog General is chased by in Cat’s Eye is named Cujo as an homage, as both films were directed by Lewis Teague and featured rabid dog antagonists. However, while Cujo was infected with rabies which made him violent, the dog in Cat’s Eye seems tame in comparison and his motivations are unclear. Cujo is the central threat throughout his film, while the dog in Cat’s Eye only appears in one segment. In terms of physicality and behavior, Cujo is a St. Bernard while the dog in Cat’s Eye is a generic mixed breed. While Cujo’s aggression drives the plot, the Cat’s Eye dog serves more as an obstacle for General to overcome in his journey. Their roles in each film differ, but the connection in names and animalistic threat they pose suggests Cat’s Eye gave a nod to its predecessor Cujo.

cujo vs cat's eye dog

Symbolism of the Dog

In Cat’s Eye, the dog has symbolic meaning and is metaphorically tied to characters and themes in the film. According to sources, the dog’s eyes are important as cat’s eyes represent birth and life in Egyptian mythology. When the dog takes on the cat’s eyes in the film, it seems to take on new life and purpose. The dog has also been interpreted as a metaphor for finding one’s way and not veering off course, similar to a cat’s eye highway reflector. Overall, the dog represents themes of rebirth, guidance, and the struggle to overcome adversity in the film.

Importance to the Plot

The mysterious dog in Cat’s Eye serves as an important plot device that propels the story forward. It first appears in the film’s opening sequence, where it chases the cat General through the streets of New York City (Wikipedia). This establishes the cat and dog as adversaries and sets up a recurring theme of the cat trying to escape from the pursuing dog.

In several key scenes, General the cat is seen desperately running from the dog, including when he tries to sneak into a troll’s home for refuge. The dog’s constant threat creates suspense and drives General forward on his journey (Reddit). The climactic final scene also involves General precariously perched on a ledge with the dog growling below, raising the stakes for the film’s resolution.

Without the recurring presence of the ominous dog, the cat’s travels would lack a sense of urgency and danger. The dog’s pursuit provides crucial motivation for General’s actions and binds the various story segments together into a cohesive narrative. So while not a major character itself, the mysterious dog in Cat’s Eye significantly propels the plot forward.

Critical Reception

The mysterious dog character in Cat’s Eye received a fair amount of praise and critique from reviewers. Many praised the effectiveness of the dog in building tension and suspense throughout the film. As one reviewer said, “The dog is menacing yet captivating on screen. It represents danger but you can’t take your eyes off it” (Customer reviews: Cat & Dog Eye Wash Drops).

However, some critiqued the lack of background given for the dog and felt it could have been developed more as a character. “While the dog makes for some tense scenes, we’re left wanting to know more about where it came from and why it acts the way it does” (Cat & Dog Eye Wash Drops & Tear Stain Remover).

Overall the mysterious nature of the dog was seen as effective for the tone of the film, even if some wanted more explanation and character development.

Impact on Pop Culture

The scary yet unassuming dog character from Cat’s Eye has become an iconic part of pop culture, with many later references and homages in films, TV shows, books, and more. According to one Reddit discussion, the dog was likely an inspiration for the unsettling dog characters seen in the cult classic TV series Twin Peaks. There are also direct references to the Cat’s Eye dog in the film Cujo, which came out just two years later. As noted on IMDb trivia, there is a scene in Cujo where a rabid St. Bernard chases a cat in a clear homage to the scary dog pursuit in Cat’s Eye.

Other Notable Details

scary dog from cat's eye

Some other interesting facts about the dog in Cat’s Eye:

The dog is a large, ferocious St. Bernard breed that appears menacing throughout the film. According to the American Kennel Club, St. Bernards are actually very gentle, friendly, and eager to please despite their large size ( So the dog’s aggressive behavior in the film goes against the typical temperament for the breed.

The dog represents danger and a threat to the young girl throughout much of the story. As she encounters the dog in various frightening situations, it symbolizes her own fears of growing up and entering adolescence (

While the dog is not actually named Cujo in the film, there are similarities in its menacing presence and how it terrorizes the young protagonist. Cujo was a rabid dog who attacked a mother and son trapped in their car, while the dog in Cat’s Eye is a more psychological threat (

Definitive Answer

The dog that chases General the cat in Cat’s Eye is not actually Cujo from the Stephen King book and film Cujo. While there are some similarities and references, they are not the same dog.

In Cat’s Eye, the dog is a St. Bernard that chases General at the start of the film. This is likely an homage to Cujo, also a St. Bernard, and the rabid behavior is a nod to that character. However, the dog in Cat’s Eye is not given a name in the credits or elsewhere. Cujo is also set in a different Stephen King universe and timeline from Cat’s Eye.

So while the filmmakers wanted to have some fun with referencing another famous Stephen King canine character, the dog is ultimately just a symbolic device and not meant to literally be Cujo within the story. The scenes with the dog are more like an Easter egg for fans to notice.


In conclusion, the dog in Cat’s Eye serves more as a symbolic representation of Judy’s inner turmoil rather than simply an antagonist like Cujo. While the dog’s aggressive behavior fuels the plot at times, its deeper purpose seems to be highlighting Judy’s childhood traumas and strained relationships. The dog’s occasional moments of docility around Judy, contrasted with aggression towards others, underscores her complex connection to it. Ultimately, the dog drives many of the story’s key moments and character developments even without being a direct copy of the Cujo archetype. While shocking at times, the dog provides important narrative impact and thematic depth. Its presence leads to reflection on Judy’s psyche in a nuanced way that a more simplistic villainous character could not achieve.

 judy and the cat's eye dog

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