The Smoking Cat of Italy

So here’s a bizarre little story on a sort of Halloween theme.

When I was visiting Italy in September, I stumbled upon the Bar Orlando. They were touting a cat there who, apparently, did something very special. He had his own statue, his own mural, and his own post cards. What did this cat do? He smoked.

The tile design on the wall of Bar Orlando.
The tile design on the wall of Bar Orlando. “To see me is to believe.”

That’s right, he smoked. Now, I don’t condone any kitties going off and smoking (or any people teaching their cats to smoke for profit), but apparently this one made quite a lot of money from it and was very beloved in his day. Here’s the story:

The Bar Orlando was founded in Sant’Agata, Italy in 1907 by a man named Cilento Orlando. From what I can glean from the postcard, his son, in 1945, adopted a cat and named him Jolly. Actually, let me just quote the postcard for you (punctuation and spelling directly from the print):

“Alfredo took the management of the bar. He was a war veteran and an animal lover. Alfredo decided to organize a show with his prodigious cat, called Jolly. This show gave a turn to the bar, in fact, myriads of local and foreign pepole, came to see the Smoking cat. Now the bar is still managed by the same family with Alfredo’s son Orlando.”

The man who now owns the bar was very pleased to see us photographing his cat wall and came running out to give us postcards. Now, momFOD, being a non-smoker and a concerned cat parent, asked the question that I’m sure all of us wanted to know: Did he inhale?

The exuberant owner assured us that, while the cat did, indeed hold the cigarette in his mouth, and while yes, the cigarette was, indeed, lit, little Jolly never, EVER inhaled.

If you’re on the Amalfi Coast, walk on down to Sant’Agata and see Jolly for yourself. I mean, he’s not there. His statue is. Jolly would be more than 60 years old by now, and we all know that smoking shortens lifespans.

Photograph of the postcard.
Photograph of the postcard.

“People are like dust that disappears at the first gust of wind. But the signs they can leave, are Eternal.” – Aflredo Cilento.

Please don’t smoke.



PS. Tomorrow, come back and see the AMAZING, OUTSTANDING, and PHENOMENAL photographs of John Boehm. I’ll be featuring another black cat and you won’t want to miss these portraits.


  • I actually saw a cat there in St Agata sitting on a bar stool and smoking a cigarette in 1966. My memory was of a completely black cat, so it might have been a replacement for the original one, who would have been in his 20’s by then.

  • Love your Halloween name. Even though today I would never let a cat do that I do find it amazing that the kitty would even hold it in his mouth let alone jump too. I bet it was a sight to see back then.
    Sue B

  • ….we iz guessin him smoked legal smokes….like if he smoked non legal smokes he wooda been at de bar askin for a plate oh perch ore sumthin we bee thinkin…tho two day he could legal lee smoke non legal smokes makin em legal N still haza plate oh perch when him getted de muncheez…ya noe 🙂 !!!

  • back in the day they had no idea that smoking was bad for them so I can understand why they would do it..

  • Was that supposed to be Love, Crepes, or are you already getting in the Halloween moo? MOL. We are curious as to the age of the smoking cat when he passed. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • That’s my Halloween name! You’re the first person to have noticed! I’m afraid I don’t know his age when he passed. – Creeps.

  • One of my former cats loved the frequent parties we had. His favorite thing to do was pick out a ciagrette stub from an ashtray and stroll around the room with the thing hanging out of his mouth. It was already snuffed out, so he never inhales, nor did he chew.

  • When she was a kid, my human had a fake cigarette, that looked like a real lit cigarette. People really thought she was smoking while she wasn’t, since it was just a toy. Maybe that’s what it was?

    For the record, my human doesn’t smoke (the male human does though), and she has never even tried a cigarette once (except for that fake one), of which she is very proud of.

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