The Cross House

A Most Unexpected Visitor?

The Uninvited, 1944.


One of my favorite movies is The Uninvited, from 1944. This is a elegant story about elegant people living in an elegant house…and ghosts.

An aspect of the story is that one ghost is never seen but is rather, ah, smelled. “The mimosa! It’s overpowering!”

And what, you understandably will be asking, does this have to do with the Cross House?

Please stand by.


I am not a huge paranormal kinda guy and describe myself as highly skeptical (rather than total disbeliever). I have not responded to the numerous paranormal requests I have received to “study” the Cross House, and am profoundly loathe to have the house become known as a haunted house. To me, this diminishes the house and makes it into a kind of joke. Well, the house deserves better.

And what, you understandably will be asking, does this have to do with the Cross House?

Please stand by.


Yesterday, I arrived at the house in the afternoon. Justin had been hard at work in the basement to finish the installation of the few remaining radiators.

We walked through the rooms in the basement as Justin pointed out what had been done, and then we stepped into the former Aladdin’s Cave, under the library.

My nose was at once assaulted. The scent was almost overpowering.

“Geez! Do you smell that? WHEN did a cat get in to pee all over this room? Did you leave the back door open?”

The room reeked of cat piss. My eyes nearly watered from the intensity.

Justin replied: “Leave the back door open in this weather? Of course not. And the smell is so weird because this morning there was no smell. The smell arrived about an hour ago.”

I asked: “Were you working in the room at the time?”


“Did you see a cat?”

“No. And how would a cat have gotten in?”

Well, then this all made no sense.

About an hour later, Travis, from Modern Air, stopped by, and we stepped into the former Aladdin’s Cave. I watched as his nose twitched, and as his eyes slightly narrowed. I asked: “So, you smell it, too?”

Travis nodded. “Wow. A cat has been in here.”

This all friggin’ freaked me out. I had a damn stray cat IN the house, and it was spraying over stuff.

Damn. Damn!

When I left late in the afternoon I made sure the library and parlor were closed off. There was no way I could handle my books, the rug, or furniture getting peed on. No way, man!


Today, I arrived at the house after lunch, and went right to Justin still working in the former Aladdin’s Cave room.

The tear-inducing scent was gone. Not a little gone but a 100% gone. There was no trace of the odorous.

Justin saw me sniffing. “Yea. Weird. I didn’t smell anything when I got here this morning.”

None of this made any sense. None! For, cat urine sooooooo does not dissipate overnight. It can linger for years. But, three people had been assaulted the previous afternoon with the olfactory insult.

Then I suddenly thought about The Uninvited.

Did the Cross House have…a ghost cat?

I know, I know, this seems totally absurd but what else would explain the distinctive scent suddenly appearing and then vanishing entirely?

Weird, man. Weird!



25 Responses to A Most Unexpected Visitor?

  1. As someone who has worked on many old homes, your story is not surprising. This has happened to me many times. Most recently, when I was cutting down a set of stairs that led to the previous homeowners office, the strong smell of the perfume “White Diamonds” was over whelming. Perhaps it spilled on the steps. Maybe she didn’t like me messing with her secret stairs that were hidden in a closet. I have felt the lady who passed, knew that we were making it into my sisters dream home beach house, and just wanted to say hello.

  2. Of course there is a scientific explanation. Our house used to get this peculiar acrid smell when the Ac had been switched off a few days. A cross between cat pee and man sweat! I was convinced there was some dead animal in the walls or attic. We wondered if it was that toxic drywall from China or attic insulation drenched in rat pee. Maybe the raccoon family we evicted a few years later? Maybe the dead creature finally mummified or the new insulation did the trick!

  3. I have no theory. Except that even ghost cats seem to like hanging out with you. I don’t think i’d feed it, though.

  4. I absolutely love that movie!! At 32 years old, not many people I know have ever watched it, much less even heard of it except for my mother and myself. I like to think it’s partly responsible for my love of old houses.

  5. I have experienced various odors a number of times in my house. I know my house was haunted, it is not haunted now. I exorcised the ghost(s) once with prayer and blessed salt and they left. They returned several years later, this time really frightening my Chihuahua Bambi. I had a frank talk with it and told it to leave. When it was in residence I smelled cigarette smoke, coffee, perfume and flowers. I was told by a long time resident that the majority of houses in my neighborhood are haunted.

  6. Since this is the first time this has occurred, I would say that somewhere in the definition of paranormal should be something for which we don’t have a normal explanation. Over the years so many things that happened, which were attributed to the paranormal, have been given an explanation when science caught up with it. In case it is a spirit, don’t pis off the cat.

  7. Chalk me up as a non-believer. What you had was a SUO: smell of unknown origin. Cat pee smells strongly of ammonia, so I suspect ammonia of unknown origin here. Ammonia is in fertilizers, dyes, household cleaners, and other substances. Perhaps changing conditions in the house resulted in the release of ammonia. I don’t claim to have the answer, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a ghost, feline or other. And thank you, Ross, for not reducing the Cross House to a sideshow with tales of the supernatural.

    • NOTHING that Justin did would account for the release of an ammonia smell from fertilizers, dyes, household cleaners, or other substances.

      He was simply cutting pipes, threading them, and installing them. He’s been doing this for weeks. And none of this could possibly result in a strong ammonia smell.

      So, tis’ be a mystery!

  8. We also have strange smells in our old house. Only in one room do I occasionally smell bubble gum. In another I smell a very pleasant man’s after shave. They are always in the same area and in no other room. I know I am being visited so I just say hello and go about my business. Shortly after the smells are gone. My house is not haunted, just visited.

  9. We have a “toast ghost.” I kid you not. I don’t believe in ghosts, per se, but I can’t explain the
    frequent experience of smelling either toast or sometimes more of a vanilla scent, usually very early in the morning. I used to get out of bed and see which of my stinkin’ kids was making toast at 4 am, only to discover everyone sleeping soundly in their beds. And quite recently I jumped out of bed at 3am thinking I had forgotten to extinguish the candle in the downstairs bathroom (which is REALLY far from the master bedroom) because I smelled vanilla so strongly, but not only did I find the candle out, but the room itself didn’t smell like vanilla at all. My kids are freaked out by this but I’m not. If our ghost just likes to make our house smell good, fantastic!!!

  10. Forgot to mention, too, that “The Uninvited” is one of my favorite all-time ghost movies and I own it and watch it frequently. That and “The ghost and Mrs. Muir.”

  11. Succulents in dream catchers. I know you’re not a dream catcher kind of guy, even for ghost cats, but thought you might like seeing this and even spot a place to tuck these into some architectural detail.

  12. “Sakes alive, what ails that cat?” There is a shrub that gives off a distinctive male cat zizz odor. I moved into where I presently live with two cats in springtime and the tenants in the neighboring unit blamed it on my guys.

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