Was the Cat From the ‘Luca’ Movie Inspired by This Real-Life Feline?

Luca Pagura (Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer) might be the main characters in the latest Pixar film, but the cat from the Luca movie is receiving quite a lot of attention. When Luca and Alberto befriended Giulia Marcovaldo (Emma Berman), they also met a terrifying yet eventually adorable cat named Machiavelli. It turns out that Disney didn’t add the feline to the movie for merchandising purposes. So, is he inspired by a real-life cat from Italy, who now happens to have his face on Disney coffee mugs, t-shirts, pins, and a plush?

Emma Berman posing on a vespa in front of the Luca poster with the cat
Emma Berman arrives at the world premiere for LUCA | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Machiavelli: That cat from the ‘Luca’ movie

When a 13-year-old sea monster, Luca, met an adventurous friend, Alberto, the two boys set their sights on owning a vesper. Luckily, they ran into Giulia, who showed them the ropes to train for the Portorosso Cup Triathlon. However, when Luca and Alberto met Giulia’s father, Massimo Marcovaldo (Marco Barricelli), things got sticky.

Massimo is a fisherman and hunts for sea monsters like Luca and Alberto. Additionally, it seemed like his cat was the only one who suspected the truth about the two boys. Right after Machiavelli met the teens, he jumped on Luca and clawed him in the face. The burly white and black cat in the Luca movie resembled his owner, Massimo, and both seemed suspicious of the new boys.

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Luckily, Luca realized rather quickly that Machiavelli loves to eat fish. Fortunately, Luca and Alberto know the best place to find fish. Massimo was relieved when they returned later that day with a boat full of fish to sell. By the end of the movie, the cat came to love Luca and Alberto. Plus, viewers found out that Machiavelli met a female cat during the credits and had eight kittens. You might want to buy that plush now.

Did this Italian feline inspire the cat from the ‘Luca’ movie?

Some fans thought that the cat from the Luca movie stemmed from the Internet celebrity feline, Grumpy Cat. However, if fans are correct, the inspiration for Machiavelli might give the Internet cat pop star a run for his money. Some fans believe that Pixar took the inspiration for the Luca cat from this feline named Seppia. The resemblance between Machiavelli and Seppia is striking.

“This stray cat inspired Machiavelli from Luca,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “His name is Seppia, and he lives in Boccadasse (Genova).”

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Seppia’s owner created social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook for the feline, and fans often tag the cat in Luca movie posts. However, the Redditor is incorrect about the stray cat story. Seppia is not a stray but a beloved pet. His owner shares her feelings about her feline on Instagram often.

There’s no proof that Seppia is the specific inspiration for the cat in the Luca movie. However, according to the Disney+ Fact Sheet, Pixar artists traveled to the Italian Riviera to gather research from the local environment. Since Seppia lives in Genoa, it’s possible that the artists found the adorable creature there and began sketching. According to the technical supervisor J. D. Northrup, the filmmakers did see plenty of cats in the fishing villages they visited.

“We kept getting notes throughout the film to add cats into shots,” Northrup commented in the fact sheet. “It almost became a joke, ‘Could we get some more cats?’”

Where did the director find the inspiration for ‘Luca’?

The story for Luca came straight from director Enrico Casarosa’s childhood in Genoa, Italy. Although the Italian storyboard artist and film director did not describe the cat in his inspiration for the Luca movie.

“I had the luck of meeting my best friend, Alberto, when I was 11,” Casarosa explained in a Luca YouTube featurette. “He had a ton of passion and was consciously testing his own fears. I wonder if I would have had the courage to go and chase my career if animation, had I not met my best friend.”

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Casarosa wrote the story for Luca, and then the Pixar artists filled in the gaps with their travels to the Italian Riviera. According to the same Disney+ fun fact sheet mentioned above, the director treated the team to dinner at his parents’ home in Genoa during their trip. So, did they also meet the inspiration for the cat from the Luca movie while visiting? It’s entirely possible.