The Mystery Cat of Pinocchio. Who Was the Mysterious Feline in the Classic Tale?

Introducing the Cat Character

The cat is a key character in Disney’s 1940 animated film Pinocchio. His name is Figaro and he is Pinocchio’s pet cat. Figaro was created by Disney specifically for the film and did not appear in the original 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

In the film, Figaro is a tuxedo cat with black fur covering most of his body and white fur on his face, front paws and tail tip. He was meant to resemble a miniature version of the title character with his black “jacket” and white “shirt front” and “cuffs.” Figaro serves as Pinocchio’s loyal companion and pet. According to the Disney Archives, Figaro was animated by artist Norm Ferguson.

Figaro made his first appearance in the 1940 film alongside Jiminy Cricket as one of the few animal characters. While Jiminy Cricket serves as Pinocchio’s conscience, Figaro is simply portrayed as Pinocchio’s adorable and sometimes mischievous pet cat.

Overall, Figaro establishes a close bond with Pinocchio and accompanies him on many of his adventures in the film. The curious cat often gets into funny antics, providing some comic relief.

The Cat’s Origins in the Book

In the original Pinocchio story written by Carlo Collodi in 1883, the Cat is one of the antagonists that deceives Pinocchio. Along with the Fox, the Cat convinces Pinocchio to travel to the Field of Miracles to bury his coins and grow his fortune, when in reality they steal his money. The Cat and Fox first appear in Chapter 15 of the story.

Collodi describes the Cat as a large black cat who walks on two legs. He has a mocking, mischievous personality and is always plotting with the Fox. The Cat represents the dangers of being gullible and falling prey to manipulators. He takes advantage of Pinocchio’s trusting nature.

Though the Cat plays a relatively minor role compared to other antagonists like The Coachman or The Terrible Dogfish, he is memorable for tricking Pinocchio out of his money and leading him astray. The Cat and Fox scene illustrates the theme of temptation and serves as an important lesson for Pinocchio to be less naive.

The Cat’s Role in Disney’s Pinocchio

The cat, named Figaro in Disney’s 1940 animated film, serves as Geppetto’s pet. Figaro plays a minor but memorable role as Pinocchio’s mischievous feline companion. According to the Disney Fandom site (), Figaro becomes friends with Pinocchio and even sleeps at the foot of his bed.

In the film, Figaro is portrayed as a typical house cat who dislikes taking baths and getting wet. This leads to a humorous scene where Figaro tries to avoid taking a bath. The cat’s antics provide comic relief. His role is more minor compared to the original 1883 book where he serves as a guide and aids Pinocchio on his journey ().

Overall, Figaro acts as a lovable and expressive animal sidekick in Disney’s film. His inclusion adds humor and gives Pinocchio a companion while staying with Geppetto. Figaro becomes part of Pinocchio’s makeshift family.

The Cat as a Antagonist

In the original Pinocchio story, the cat character is depicted as a cunning and deceitful antagonist. Along with his partner the fox, the cat tricks the naive Pinocchio multiple times, taking advantage of Pinocchio’s trusting nature for their own greedy gain.

One of the cat’s most deceitful acts is convincing Pinocchio that he can turn his coins into gold if he plants them in the Field of Miracles. As Pinocchio excitedly buries his coins, the cat and fox secretly dig them up once he leaves. This demonstrates the cat’s dishonesty and manipulation.

The cat’s actions serve as a moral lesson about the dangers of deceit and temptation. Pinocchio’s encounters with unsavory characters like the cat teach him to be more discerning and less gullible. The cat represents how predators often exploit innocence for their own advantage. Ultimately the cat’s deceitful nature highlights the importance of wisdom, integrity and caution.

As the film adaptation states, “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”1 The cat’s lies grow continuously more elaborate as he keeps misleading Pinocchio for his own gain, showing the cumulative damage deceit can cause.

The Cat’s Character Design

In the original Collodi book, the Cat is described as a large cat with dark fur that walks upright on two legs. He wears boots, white gloves, and a large hat with a feather in it. The Disney version of the Cat retains these key elements of his description from the book. He has gray and black striped fur, walks on his hind legs, and wears red boots, white gloves, and a yellow hat with a red feather.

The Disney Cat was designed by artist Albert Hurter, who worked on the visual development of many Disney films in the 1930s and 40s. Hurter’s concept art shows the Cat evolving from a more realistically proportioned feline to the anthropomorphic character we see in the film, with longer limbs and a larger head to allow for more humanlike facial expressions. The Cat’s design takes visual inspiration from circuses and vaudeville performers with his extravagant costume.

As the antagonist who deceives Pinocchio, the Cat was designed to have an air of sneakiness and untrustworthiness. Details like his hunched stance, crooked teeth, constant grinning and shifty eyes reinforce his cunning personality. His striped fur and competition with the Fox, another canine character, alludes to the archetypal rivalry between cats and foxes.

While retaining his core design elements, the Cat has been reimagined visually in various adaptations over the years. Recent CGI versions, like in Pinocchio (2022), depict him in a more realistic catlike style while keeping his upright stance and clothes.

The Cat’s Significance to the Plot

The Cat plays a key role in Pinocchio’s journey and personal growth throughout the story. He first appears when The Fox introduces Pinocchio to Stromboli’s puppet show, luring the naive puppet in with promises of riches and fame as an actor. The Cat and Fox represent temptation and trickery, manipulating Pinocchio for their own gain. Later, when Pinocchio tries to return home after escaping Stromboli, the pair pretend to be doctors and rob him of his money, a scene that highlights Pinocchio’s gullibility.

A major moment involving the Cat is when he and The Fox encounter Pinocchio on his way to Pleasure Island. They convince him to come along, warning him of the dangers ahead like a pair of false protectors. This leads to Pinocchio’s time at Pleasure Island where he fully indulges in being “a real boy,” forgetting his responsibilities and morals. The Cat serves as a negative influence, misguiding Pinocchio and causing him to stray further from his quest to be reunited with Geppetto.

Overall, the sneaky and manipulative Cat propels much of the plot, acting as an obstacle and source of temptation for Pinocchio. His deceptions provide growth opportunities for Pinocchio to learn critical life lessons on his symbolic journey towards maturity.

Voice Acting for the Character

The cat character in Disney’s Pinocchio film was voiced by actor Cliff Edwards, who was known for playing the character of Jiminy Cricket in the same film (Source). Edwards brought a sly and mischievous quality to the cat’s voice that matched its untrustworthy nature in the film. His vocal performance helped bring the cat to life as a cunning antagonist that deceives Pinocchio.

Edwards was an experienced voice actor who got his start in radio before transitioning to voice acting for animated films. He had a distinctive vocal style that lent itself well to anthropomorphic animal characters like the cat. His natural raspy tone helped convey the cat’s wily personality. Edwards gave the cat an accent and vocal mannerisms that reminded viewers of a conman or dodgy salesman. This fit the cat’s role as a deceitful creature who tricks Pinocchio.

Edwards was adept at modulating his voice to portray different emotions and reactions for the cat. He could shift from sounding friendly and inviting when luring Pinocchio, to mean-spirited gloating when the puppet realizes he’s been duped. Edwards brought energy and theatricality to the performance that was integral for creating such an iconic Disney villain. His voice acting was key in establishing the cat as a memorable antagonist in the Pinocchio story.

Symbolic Meaning of the Cat

In Pinocchio, the cunning Cat serves as a symbolic antagonist who leads Pinocchio astray. As Jiminy Cricket acts as Pinocchio’s conscience, the Cat represents temptation and trickery. Collodi uses the Cat to symbolize the dangers of naivety and listening to bad advice.

The Cat’s duplicitous nature symbolizes how those with bad intentions can easily manipulate the trusting and innocent. When the Cat and Fox first meet Pinocchio, they are able to convince him to bury his money by appealing to his greed and gullibility. This demonstrates how unsavory characters can take advantage of those who are too naive.

Furthermore, the Cat’s encouragement of Pinocchio to disobey and stray from the path represents the temptation to engage in vices and avoid responsibility. As a symbolic devil-on-the-shoulder, the Cat tries to lead Pinocchio away from virtuous actions so he can get into trouble. The Cat epitomizes the lure of short-term pleasures and thrill seeking.

Overall, through the cunning Cat character, Collodi warns against heeding dubious advice, resisting temptation, and avoiding manipulative tricksters. The Cat symbolizes the dangers of moral weakness when confronted with vice.

The Cat in Adaptations

The cat character has appeared in many adaptations and remakes of Pinocchio over the years. In the Rankin/Bass animated film Pinocchio’s Christmas from 1980, the fox and cat were voiced by Allen Swift and served as the primary antagonists (1). More recently, in Guillermo del Toro’s 2022 live-action remake of Pinocchio for Netflix, Figaro the kitten and Cleo the goldfish appear again as Geppetto’s pets, just as in the original 1940 Disney film (2).

In Matteo Garrone’s 2019 Italian live-action adaptation, the fox and cat are played by Massimo Ceccherini and Rocco Papaleo respectively (3). Their designs are more grotesque and sinister compared to the Disney version. Overall, the conniving cat remains a key character across Pinocchio adaptations, though its personality and design varies.

The Cat’s Legacy

The Cat from Pinocchio has had a lasting impact on animation and pop culture. Though unnamed in the original story, Disney’s adaptation named him Figaro and paired him with Cleo the goldfish, creating an iconic animated duo. Figaro became a popular Disney character, going on to appear in a number of Disney shorts and films over the years.

The scheming Cat character also helped set the standard for animated animal sidekicks in Disney films. His mischievous personality and conniving chemistry with the Fox provided a memorable antagonistic presence. Figaro himself embodied some classic cat stereotypes like chasing the goldfish Cleo, playing with yarn, and outsmarting his owner Geppetto.

References to Figaro and images of him have appeared across pop culture over the decades. He’s been featured in everything from t-shirts and collectibles to video games (1). Figaro and Cleo remain some of Disney’s most iconic animated pets. The new live-action Pinocchio movie brought Figaro back once again, continuing his legacy as the Cat from Pinocchio.

Scroll to Top