Black Cat

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Release Date: 
Saturday, March 15, 2003
PDF icon Rules for Black Cat.380.39 KB
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Minimum Age: 

by Natosha Ellis, Benjamin Gibbs, and Jonathan Leistiko

¿Deseas estas reglas en español? Hay una gran traducción española de las reglas de Jorge A. en:


Build kitty piles consisting of adjacent pairs of cards that add to 10. There are other card sequences that also score points.

You Need

  • A poker deck.


Shuffle the Poker deck. Place it face down on the table.
The game begins when you turn the deck face-up.


You start play with two empty kitty piles in front of you. You may take a card from the deck and put it in one of your your kitty piles. You may only take one card at a time.

The object of the game is to build kitty piles that have specific cards and card sequences in them. It’s important to note that you can not rearrange the cards in your kitty pile during play or at the end of the game. That’s why you need to pay attention the the cards you grab while you’re playing. You’re trying to build kitty piles with the following features:
Card pairs adjacent to each other that add to ten. A pair that adds to 10 is called a Tomcat.
Tens. A ten is called a Yowler.
One or more face cards of the same type sandwiched between two other cards of the same type. Each face card in a sequence like this is called a Jellical Cat.
An unbroken chain of black cards that adds to thirteen. This is called a Black Cat..

The card values are:
Ace = 1
2 through 10 = 2 through 10
Jack and King = 0
Queen = 7 or 11, your choice at the end of the game.

Let’s say that one of your kitty piles looks like this at the end of the game:

How many Tomcats are there in this sequence of cards?

You should see three Tomcats. The 8-2-8 sequence counts as two Tomcats. The 10 by itself is not a Tomcat, but it does count as a Yowler. The 3-7 pair counts as another Tomcat.the 6-A-3 sequence, though it adds to 10, does not count as a Tomcat, since it has three cards, not just two.

Let’s take a look at another example:

How many Tomcats, Yowlers, Jellical Cats, and Black Cats are there in this kitty pile?

There are five Tomcats (5-5, 8-2, 2-8, 7-3, and 4-6). There are no Yowlers. There are two Jellical Cats (2-Q-Q-2; the Queens are Jellical because they’re sandwiched between identical cards – the twos.) There is one Black Cat (Q-6; counting the Queen as 7 makes the cards add to 13). The 6 of Clubs and Queen of Hearts do not count as a Black Cat because the Queen is red, not black.

The game ends when the deck runs out of cards. If the game stalls because there’s a card on top of the deck that no one wants to take, you can end the game by calling out, “Black cat, black cat, crossin’ my path. Don’t look back or you’ll get scratched!” You should only do this if you think you have better kitty piles than the other players do.


Lay your kitty piles on the table, maintaining the sequence they were built in, and tally your points:

Every Yowler in your kitty piles is worth one point.
Every Jellical Cat in your kitty piles is worth two points.
Every Tomcat in your kitty piles is worth three points.
Every Black Cat in your kitty piles is worth six points.

The player with the highest point total wins.


Long Night on the Fence: Use two Poker decks instead of one.

Lucky Tom: Double-five Tomcats are worth 5 points instead of three.

Music of the Night: Yowlers are worth points equal to the number of Yowlers in that Yowler’s kitty pile. If you have a kitty pile with three Yowlers in it, then each Yowler in that pile is worth three points.

Origin and Credits

I was hanging out with Ben and Toshi one Sunday afternoon (February 9th, 2003). We’d just playtested a game or two of Symbiote when Ben asked me to make up a speed based card game akin to Spit) or Egyptian Rat Screw. We shuffled a Poker deck, put it in the middle of the table, and started messing around with it. This game took form about fifteen minutes later.

Thanks to Toshi for inspiration and suggestions, to Ben for the poke to get it started, to Ben, Sharon, and Toshi for playtesting.