In the exposition of "The Black Cat," the unreliable narrator lays down some things he feels readers should know about the story and himself as a person. He says that he has been known since childhood for the "docility and humanity of [his] disposition" and has in fact been teased by peers for how tender-hearted he is. He also loves animals and he and his wife have had many, but none that he loved more than his black cat Pluto.
Now the events of the rising action start to unfold. The narrator begins drinking too much, causing him to inflict violence on his wife and pets. Eventually he even hurts his beloved Pluto. At one point the narrator grabs Pluto, thinking the cat has been avoiding him, and Pluto bites his hand in fear. The narrator takes a penknife and cuts out one of Pluto's eyes, then hangs him in the neighbor's garden.
This is where the story is harder to plot, as it could be said to have two climaxes. In climax one, there is a fire in the narrator's house the night after he kills Pluto. He loses everything, and the only wall left standing has the image of a hanged cat on it. More rising action events happen: the narrator and his wife get a new cat, who is missing an eye and has markings that look like a gallows on its breast. The cat is very affectionate, which the narrator comes to despise, feeling that the cat has some sort of revenge plot.
In climax two, the narrator nearly trips on the cat one day and tries to kill it with an ax. His wife prevents him, so he kills her instead.
During the events of the falling action, the narrator buries his wife in the cellar walls. The cat has vanished, which pleases the narrator. Eventually the police come and search the house.
At the resolution of the story, the man's crimes are reveal. Leading the police through their search of the house, he raps on the wall where his wife is buried with his cane (through guilt? or hubris?). Immediately there is a scream and, when they tear down the wall, the police discover the wife's body and the black cat, alive. The narrator is hauled off to jail, where he writes this story, the night before he is set to be executed.