I’ll be honest: I had my reservations about this book. I appreciate a good humor book as much as the next cat lover. But I balked at the title. To me, there’s just nothing funny about a cat peeing on things. I get far too many emails from desperate cat guardians who are dealing with this problem. That’s why I hadn’t even picked up I Could Pee on This when it first became a bestseller.
I do, however, enjoy author Francesco Marciuliano’s internationally syndicated comic strip Sally Forth, so when his publicist asked me whether I’d be interested in interviewing him, I agreed to take a look at the book. And I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.
This collection of tongue-in-cheek poems, all written by cats, made me alternately chuckle and laugh out loud. With titles like “Who Is That on Your Lap?,” “This Is My Chair,” “Kneel Before Me,” “Nudge,” and “Oh Christmas Tree,” Marciuliano captures cats’ personalities purr-fectly. Illustrated with beautiful photos, this little volume turned out to be very much like meeting a cat for the first time: there’s more to it than initially meets the eye.
Check out the video below for some samples:
Q&A with Francesco Marciuliano
How did you get the idea for the book?
I had two cats for 17 years, Boris and Natascha. After they passed away within a year of each other, I was very sad. I wanted to remember them in an upbeat, funny way, because that’s who they were, so I started writing a few poems, just for myself.
Then, in 2011, Charlie Sheen had a very public mental breakdown. Bear with me here, I will bring this back to your question! I came across a link to an interview with Sheen, and there were some pretty insane quotes in there. At first, I put some of the quotes to the characters in my Sally Forth cartoon, but then I thought “Wait a minute. I like that job! Why risk losing it?” So instead, I put the quotes with photos of cats and put them up on the internet. Within three days, they got a million hits. I did it a couple more times. The New York Times and the Today Show wrote about it.
At that point, I thought okay, the internet is 98% cats, and the other 2% are wondering what’s up with all the cats. So I submitted my poems to a couple of agents. A couple of weeks later I had an offer from Chronicle Books. I’m still surprised that it got published!
Your new book, I Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens, is due out in August. Is it a sequel?
It’s sort of a sequel – or a prequel, depending on how you look at it! I had a lot of fun doing this book. To a kitten, everything is new, so there’s lots of material to choose from.
Do you currently have cats?
I don’t. After Natascha passed away, I needed some time. But I’m going on vacation in August, and when I come back in September, I’m going to get a kitten or two. I didn’t want to get a new kitten and then go away for a few weeks. I live in New York City, and there are restrictions on how many animals you can have. If it wasn’t for that, God knows how many pets I’d have in my house!
If you could use one word to describe your book, what would that be?
BUY! (Laughs). No, seriously. I think “reflective.” The poems comment on what cats are thinking. They convey a sense of a cat’s inner life, and they’re also about the relationship we have with our pets.
For more information about Francesco Marciuliano, please visit his website.