My Cat Kato vs. The Kona Coffee Plant

This article was written in November 1999. The original photos were located and added to the article in November 2011.

Next week many boxing fans will tune into see Evander Holyfield fight Lennox Lewis. Not me, I’ll be watching a continuing battle in my own home. The two warriors are my 6 month old kitten and my Hawaiian Kona plant. The plant is doing it’s best to stay alive outside of Hawaiian soil and the kitten is doing her best to rip every leaf off.

As much as we try to keep our kitten, Kato, away from the Hawaiian Kona plant, she still manages to sneak over and rough it up every now and then. Will the plant survive Kato’s wrath? Will Kato show mercy? Or will the plant survive regardless of whatever Kato dishes out? Which contender has more stamina and strength?

In this corner: Kona Coffee Plant

The Kona plant by most accounts should have been dead along time ago. How does a delicate Kona coffee plant survive in Alexandria, Virginia? The DC Metro area is hardly an ideal region for a coffee plant. Not only has the plant survived, it has grown to height of almost five feet tall. Granted it won’t produce coffee, but it is a cool plant regardless.

kona coffee plant

Kona Coffee plant

In this corner: Kato The Kitten

Kato is a feisty kitten full of energy with a devastating right jab. Her reach is extensive and her vertical leap is also impressive. She can easily grab the leaves of the lower half of the Kona plant and she has on more than one occasion.

Kato nears Kona
Kato nears Kona

Tale of the Tape

  • Speed: Kato has the ability to “hit and run”. Plant can’t move. Edge Kato.
  • Reach: Kato has an impressive reach, but at 5 feet tall the Kona plant towers the kitten. Edge Kona.
  • Endurance: The plant has proven capable of tolerating both the weather and the kitten so far. Kato gets bored easily. Edge Kona.
  • Attack Skills: Kato has an excellent strike capable of tearing a leaf in a single swipe. Kona unwilling to fight cat. Edge Kato.
  • Summary: Both opponents have their strengths and weaknesses. Too close to call.

Kato surrounds Kona
Kato Surrounds Kona

Kato vs Kona
Kato vs Kona

Who will win?

In our household we hope that Kato will throw in the towel and announce her retirement. We do our best to keep Kato away from Kona, but we aren’t always successful. Maybe we can get Don King to convince Kato to move on to a new challenge, like attacking the cat in the mirror. Meanwhile, the Kona continues it’s rope-a-dope* strategy. Is the Kona conserving energy or will Kato deliver the knockout punch? Ding!

Rope-A-Dope: In 1974, Muhammed Ali fought heavily-favored George Foreman in Zaire in a fight known as “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Foreman was considered the hardest puncher in heavyweight history, but Ali won. Ali backed himself up against the ropes and let Foreman punch until tiring himself out. Later Ali came off the ropes to win the fight. Muhammed Ali called this his “rope-a-dope” technique.

UPDATE June 2000: The winner of the the Kato vs Kona battle, turned out to be the Kona plant. The Kona plant hung in through several beatings, until eventually Kato got bored and started picking on the leather couch. Prior to moving from Alexandria to San Diego, the plant was donated to our neighborhood coffee shop. Today that plant sits proudly in the front window of the Starbucks at 1464 N. Beauregard Street in Alexandria, VA. Kato also moved to San Diego. There are no plans for a rematch.

Michael Allen Smith

Michael Allen Smith fell in love with coffee while attending college. Shortly after graduating college, he found himself in the Tampa Bay area far away from the good coffee he had at The Ohio State University. That is when he starting home roasting coffee. Less than a year later in April 1999, he launched the coffee website has been going strong ever since with hundreds of articles and tutorials submitted by over one hundred contributors.

In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to three hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland,Vancouver and San Francisco and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 800 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.

Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.