The story, set in New Mexico, begins as Jerry Manning hires a leopard as a publicity stunt for his night-club performing girlfriend, Kiki. Her rival at the club, Clo-Clo, not wanting to be upstaged, startles the animal and it escapes the club into the dark night. Soon people are being found mauled to death. Manning and his girlfriend, guilty about the monster they unleashed, try to help hunt down the giant cat. A particularly haunting scene involves a young girl who, on returning from an errand to a local store for corn meal, is mauled by the cat after her mother won't let her in the house. Upon hearing the screams, the mother clamors to open the door as dark blood seeps under the door.