It's a rare treat when employees actually look forward to arriving at work every morning. But that is the case for the folks at Island Water Association (IWA), who are greeted when they arrive at the office by the only full-time resident of their facility, Lizzie.
A mixed-breed cat with a laid-back attitude, Lizzie joined the IWA team when she was discovered by several employees about a dozen years ago.
"We heard this meowing outside," recalled Jan Krisman, who works in the accounting department at IWA. "We had to catch her because we were worried that she would be attacked by a bobcat or some other animal out there."
Jan Krisman offers a treat to Lizzie, the Island Water Association's office mascot for the past 12 years.
According to Krisman, the recently retired Don Frye of the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District helped catch the young feline, who has suffered several injuries while patrolling the IWA grounds. The kitten had a cut on her lip, evidence of which can still be seen today, and was severely malnourished.
After spending a few weeks at a veterinarian's office, Lizzie - as she soon became known due to her penchant for catching lizards - returned to the IWA office, where employees had vowed to find her a good home on Sanibel.
As it turned out, she already had one.
"I remember coming in for my interview, and I noticed this cat sitting on the ledge of the front desk," remembers Karen Warrick, who joined the IWA 10 and a half years ago. "And I thought that was a really positive sign. I said to myself, 'Oh good, they have a cat here.'"
Warrick and Krisman are Lizzie's primary caretakers at the office. Upon arriving for work every morning, the first one in feeds the precocious cat, who took little time in adapting to her surroundings.
"She's pretty quiet for the most part," said Warrick. "There are definitely people that she likes and others she could care less about."
In other words, your typical cat.
"She used to be skitterish around men, but she's adjusted quite well," added Krisman. "She never bits of scratches anyone. Occasionally she will go outside and chew on a plant a little bit, but then she'll come right back inside. She knows where her home is."
Although not officially employed by the IWA, Lizzie has earned a fine reputation as the office mascot and even attends the Board of Directors annual meeting each April she has lived at the facility. And, like most 12-year-old pets, she has had her fair share of ups and downs healthwise.
Krisman noted that at her heaviest, Lizzie weighed approximately 16 pounds, which required her to go on a diet. Presently, she weighs a modest 11 pounds. She also had to have all but her two front teeth removed. However, she appears no worse for the wear.
On most days, visitors to the IWA building will spot Lizzie lounging around on a desktop or patrolling the hallways for - you guessed it - lizards. In fact, over the years she has become one of the ever-present representatives for the association that islanders have grown accustomed to visiting and reading about.
"One of our customers send her a Christmas present every year with catnip in it," explained Krisman. "And if a couple of IWA newsletters go out and I don't put any news about Lizzie in it, we'll get phone calls asking what happened to her."
So be assured, Lizzie fans. This feline is alive and well.
And resting comfortably at her home.