Friday, April 04, 2008

Hello, Kitties

from James Grippando

Jackie's in the UK, and I'm in Florida, filling in for her and writing to you from where I always write: in my own backyard. Writing outdoors connects me to the Florida setting that figures so prominently in my novels. My office has these essentials: a patio table and chair, a big shade umbrella, a laptop computer, a hammock, a hot tub, and a swimming pool. The cell phone is optional.

For the first nine years of my career, my office mate and principal workday diversion was my Golden Retriever. Sam lay at my feet as I wrote, and every time I stood up for a break, he would dash toward the swimming pool.

So when Sam left me in 2006, I went it alone for a while.

Then one day, I heard a splash in the pool—in Sam’s pool.

I looked up and saw an iguana. A HUGE iguana. It had dived into the pool. At least I thought it had dived. Then I realized it had actually fallen into the pool, because it climbed out as fast at it had fallen in. And then the chase resumed.

This enormous iquana was after a kitten—this adorable little gray kitten that was hiding behind a potted plant, heart pounding.

Now, I won’t pretend that I’m a cat person. I’ve had several dogs in my life, and Sam was—well, Sam was my buddy. But I’m definitely no fan of iguanas. They don’t belong here in Miami, and the irresponsible people who turn them loose when they no longer have use for them as pets are no small part of the reason that the ecosystem here in Florida here is getting so screwed up. (Though it’s not as bad as the python problem: it’s estimated that there are now a half million Burmese pythons living and thriving in Florida’s Everglades, rivaling the alligators for the top of the food chain).

But back to kitty.

I chased off the iguana with a broom. Then I picked up this little furball and held him in my lap. Naturally, he bit me. He was a total stray, no one to care for him, no place to live. And even though iguanas area supposed to be vegetarians, no one had apparently explained that little dietary detail to this particular iguana. My guess was that this kitty had narrowly escaped death.

So we officially welcomed Kitty into our family. Notice the capital “K”. Kitty is her name. I know, I know. You would think a writer could come up with a better name. But my three-year old daughter named her, so cut me some slack, okay?

That was last fall. By February, Kitty wasn’t so skinny anymore. By late March, Kitty had officially become “Momma Kitty.”

I’ve had many pets in my life, but this is the first time that I’ve had a momma. It’s so much fun watching Momma Kitty with her babies. My kids are especially loving it. And from my own selfish standpoint, I will always miss Sam. But it’s so great to have four new office mates.

They might make a cat person out of me yet.

Jackie will be naked in her regular spot next week.



  1. Jim,

    Do you really write outside in the dog days of August? (Cat days?) The squalls of September?

    Day of the Iguana: Many years ago, I was driving on Old Cutler Road not far from where you live. The car was an Alpha Romeo Spider, top down. {"Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson" was not playing in the background. That comment is probably lost on the younger generation).

    Splat! An iguana fell off one of the banyan tree branches that form an umbrella over the street. Hit my windshield. Scared the piss out of me. Vinegar, too.

  2. My tap dance teacher used to come into class with deep scratches on her arms. I asked her what happened. She said they were compliments of a pet iguana that lived in her spare bedroom.

    I've fallen under the spell of both cats and dogs. Congrats on your heroic Kitty rescue.

  3. Lucky Kitty. Do the next generation of furballs have names yet?

    Fumble spends a remarkable amount of time on my lap--mostly when I'm trying to red.

    Looking forward to having my own place with "dog room".

  4. James, of course you'll become a cat person. And I hope you'll not have any more iguana encounters. I’d like to tell you that I’ve written a scathingly funny book, The World Is Your Litter Box, which will be out May 6th. The book is cleverly disguised as a cute cat book so humans will buy it, but is, in fact, a how-to manual FOR cats. Check it out on my website,