I read this short story in the 1960s and it was already old then, maybe 19th century. There are no science fiction elements, but it might be considered as fantasy, certainly as horror, given the uncanny intelligence of the cat. It is narrated by a traveler to Germany who takes up an acquaintance with a brash man from his own country. Early on, the brash man casually kills a litter of kittens, obviously taking pleasure in this to his companion's veiled distaste. The mother cat glowers. The man insists on seeing a historic torture chamber that is maintained for tourists, and the narrator describes the implements. The brash man (an early version of the Ugly American?) now pays the guide extra to be bound and placed in the Black Madonna, a coffin-like device that has two long prongs in the interior of the lid, situated so as to pierce the eyes and brain when the lid is dropped. Now he asks the guide to lower the lid slowly, holding a rope, so he can experience the thrill of danger as the prongs near his face. Suddenly the mother cat appears as if from nowhere and leaps to attack, not the Ugly American who is bound helpless in the torture device, but, with preternatural intelligence, the guide's face. The startled guide lets the rope go and the lid slams into place, but not before the narrator glimpses the horror on the bound man's face.
The story left a vivid impression on me; it was published in an English-language anthology and I must have read it more than once: Poe? Wells? "Black Madonna" yields so many results on Google searches that the story, if indeed I am right that the torture device was called "Black Madonna", is buried among hundreds of other references. Can we locate this story in time for Halloween?