Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Frank Viscido, it all comes down to cat stands


Frank Viscido has led one of those multichromatic lives that exist outside the normal flow of things, all original and unapologetic in its embrace of the comedy of the irrational.

He lives alone in a trailer home on the west side of Largo with two cats to keep him company and offer inspiration.

Now approaching 70, Viscido has put to rest a half-dozen careers and settled into what could be his last — though one of the most satisfying.

He builds cat posts on his front patio, indulging a lifelong itch to be a carpenter, a cabinet maker and an artist, and sticks it to the bottom lines of corporate cat furniture makers by undercutting their wholesale prices by at least half.

"Below cheap, whatever that means," he says of his advertising — almost solely based on the lost art of one-on-one salesmanship.

His customers range from personal friends to random drivers who see his occasional weekend sales near the entrance to the West Bay Mobile Home and RV Park, to a handful of Pinellas pet stores that know a good product when they see it.

"He just stopped in one day and asked if we could take a look at them. They were great," said Larry Lipke, owner of Pet Safari in Dunedin. "They're a significant savings, and we pass that on to the customer. We sell his for probably half what a big manufacturer sells it for."

The cost? $60 for Viscido's, $130 for a factory-made product of the same size.

Before he began building cat posts — playgrounds for domestic felines, with caves, ladders and platforms — Viscido was a timeshare condo salesman.

He lived at Green Street and Duval in Key West in the 1980s; a loaded description of place and time that conjures exactly how Viscido describes it: "Everyone there was a freak."

And so was he.

Before that, he was the only one of his friends to join the Air Force after a moment of twentysomething wanderlust and gusto resulted in a mutual pledge to enlist.

But war stories, tales of being saved from depression by a slinky young prostitute and the travels of a bygone era are not the subject of this story or his current life focus.

Now, it's about the cat stands, the sales and the people he sells to.

"Most of my friends are folks I've sold cat posts to. Good quality, low price. They like it, they like me," Viscido said. "I'm getting respect, is what I get out of this business. I get smiles out of people."

Though the connection between a cat post and Mozart or Picasso might not be clear, when it comes to scrap wood and carpet, a few nails, screws and staples, Viscido's talent becomes apparent.

"He's an incredibly creative person. No two pieces are the same. He may make one, maybe two, then change it and make something else. He's like an artist," said Lipke, the pet store owner.

His ideas for the post designs, what cats might like to play with, come from Mossi Moe and Mittens, the cats his grandchildren gave him. He doesn't speak much of his ex-wife, though he is still close to his two children.

Satisfaction from cat stands, he says, is not something he figured he would have gotten in his senior years — but it's enriched his life nonetheless.

"It's something I'm finally getting at the end of my life," Viscido said.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or

For Frank Viscido, it all comes down to cat stands 09/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 3:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  4. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”