Cat on funeral home roof becomes neighborhood icon

Table of Contents The history of Tampa’s iconic white cat on the roofInside the haunted…

Drive by the Adams & Jennings Funeral Home on Nebraska Avenue in Tampa and you’ll see something that could have you take pause. 

A white ceramic cat clinging to the side can’t help but catch your eye. 

“There’s been people that call us occasionally and think it’s a live cat and they want us to know that it’s there,” said Earl Polk, who has been working for the funeral home on and off since 1971.

The first of this cat’s nine lives started in the early 1950s, on what was a gift shop at the time. Polk said the owner placed the cat on the building for his wife.

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“She liked cats and she wanted a cat on the roof,” said Polk, who was raised in the area. “A lot of people grew up with the cat on the roof.”

When the funeral home took over the building in the 1960s, the cat stayed.

“The cat was on the old building from the time we bought it,” said Polk.

And when the new building went up in 2008, the cat came with it. 

“When we moved to this building, the cat was taken down gently and professionally cleaned and replaced. When we replaced the cat, we were going to have a ceremony but people wanted it up there so bad we did it kind of overnight. I got the cat back up there quick,” said Polk.

Curiosity has surrounded the funeral home cat, from news articles to social media. 

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“People on Facebook have responded to the pictures of it where they’ve asked, ‘Where’s this cat?’ And everybody knew where it was at, what it was and who it belonged to,” said Polk.

At times, the cat has also provided a welcome distraction from the somber business taking place inside. 

“People come out to see the cat. In fact, we have people that come to the funeral home for a funeral and they’ll take their children outside to look at the cat and make sure the children know the cat’s there and that they grew up with the cat and now you’re seeing the cat,” said Polk.

The Adams & Jennings Funeral Home even put the cat on its business cards, making it the perfect resting place for this neighborhood icon. 

“I think as long as it’s a funeral home here I think the cat will be there,” said Polk.

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