Why a Cat Has Been on This Tampa Roof for 70 Years

We recently came across the story of a white cat that has been stuck on a roof in Tampa, Florida for 70 years. The whimsical tale was shared by Tampa Bay Life and Culture. When drivers speed past the Adams and Jennings funeral home in Tampa, those who are seeing it for the first time usually slow down and sometimes turn around for a second look. Here is the reason why. There is a cat in plain view of the road and it looks like it’s stuck on the roof and in distress. Who wouldn’t stop and look at such a spectacle?

The surprise factor of a cat on a funeral home roof

The cat that has been on the roof for 70 years looks like a real live cat from the viewpoint of the road. When you get closer to take a look it’s made of ceramic. That’s how it has survived for seven decades. Even though the old building was torn down, the cat was put on the roof of the new one. The cat has become somewhat of a landmark. Adults remember fondly how their parents and grandparents pointed out the cat on the roof when they were small children. Now as adults, they can drive by and see that the cat is still hanging around the same neighborhood.

We learned that the cat went on a brief hiatus in 2007, but public outcry made the owners return the cat to its original position on the roof. The cat made its first appearance on the roof in 1948 when the owner of the antique shop at the time affixed him to the roof. There was originally a black cat as his companion but now only the white cat remains. Even when the building sold and became a funeral home, the cat remained a fixture.

Lessons we learn from the cat on the funeral home roof

This story is heartwarming and it pulls on our emotions in ways that are difficult to explain. Why would anyone form an attachment to a ceramic cat on a funeral home roof? Members of the community were so invested in seeing the cat that they took action when the cat was briefly taken down. What is it that makes the people of this Tampa neighborhood feel so strongly about an inanimate object? According to Psychology Today, the experiences that we have throughout our lives creates a sense of familiarity, and familiarity leads to a sense of enjoyment. This is particularly true when the experiences are novel. The educational piece goes on to explain that the more we’re exposed to something, the more familiar it becomes. When we see the object, it creates feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.

The mere exposure effect

According to Wikipedia, there is a psychological phenomenon called the mere exposure effect. You don’t necessarily have to be fond of a certain thing or even like it to develop a familiarity with it. The more we’re exposed to a thing, the greater our sense of familiarity, which can even lead to a sense of attachment. It’s a matter of attraction to the familiar because of the feelings the thing stimulates. There have been multiple studies conducted on the mere exposure effect and the results yield the likelihood that humans like familiar things more than new things. We tend to feel a stronger emotional response to them because they are a part of our past and our history.

The power of a ceramic cat

The ceramic cat on the roof of the Tampa funeral home has certainly seen better days, although it’s still recognizable. When a familiar object has been in place for generations, it becomes a part of a person’s childhood experience. The shared experience of seeing the cat with a grandparent or parent has created positive memories of good times and laughter. Those who lived in this Tampa neighborhood may even associate the cat with going back home. Removing the cat now would for many, be like taking fond memories away from them. It serves as a reminder of good times with loved ones and it serves to help conjure those feelings again, creating sentimentality. It’s a beautiful process that shows how our good memories can lift our moods and make us smile and feel good, if only for a few moments in time. Some older residents of the area have many decades of memories of the cat on the funeral home roof and it serves as a reminder of how things used to be in the neighborhood as well as how much the area has changed through the decades. One thing has remained constant. The old ceramic white cat is still there.

Final thoughts

We had a good laugh when we first read the touching tale about the cat that has been stuck on the roof of a funeral home for 70 years. It’s a novel story about a neighborhood that won’t stand for the cat to be taken down. This ceramic cat has become somewhat of a landmark as well as a legend for those who grew up and saw it as they drove or walked by. The cat has become a familiar sight to current and former residents of the area. It shows us all that we develop a fondness for the small little things we see as we’re growing up. We get used to seeing them and when they’re no longer there, it creates a sense of emptiness and even loss. We love the things that are familiar because they stir up memories of good experiences we’ve had in the past. Our lives are enriched by these small things that trigger feelings of happiness and nostalgia. One of the best lessons we can take away from this story is that we can find intense pleasure in the small things when we take the time to appreciate them.

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