Three spirited cats have moved into the President’s Home, having made the 4,000-mile journey from Iowa with President Mike Latham ’86 and his family. Now that Punahou’s presidential pets – Kai, Jordan and Claire – have settled into campus life, we thought it was time to meet the School’s new feline residents.
The family adopted this Bronx, New York native in 2013, while Mike and Jenn Latham were working at Fordham University. Two years old at the time, Kai was roaming with a bunch of abandoned kittens, but gladly traded his alley cat life to join his academic parents. Now a feisty 15 pounds, Kai resembles a lion, with his fluffy, long brown hair and mane. And like a model, he knows how to work it. For our photo shoot, he lounged comfortably in front of the camera while being snapped paparazzi-style. Fun Fact: Kai loves power tools. He’ll sit and watch intently if anyone uses a power tool to fix something around the house.
The youngest cat in the family, Claire was rescued by the Lathams alongside Jordan when she was just a year old. This American Shorthair is the biggest foodie of the family, focused on snacks and food in general. She’s also very playful and cuddly. Her favorite place to chill? In sister Anya’s room, on her beanbag chair. Fun Fact: A quirky critter, Claire used to sit at the dinner table with the family for meals.
Jordan was rescued by the Lathams from an Iowa animal shelter in 2015, when she was two years old. She was adopted at the same time and place as her sister, Claire. The word on Jordan is that she’s a daddy’s girl, who only sits on her father’s lap.
Fun Fact: Jordan loves to play with her feather toy. A jumper, she’s the most athletic of the three.
Presidential Pets of the Past
Since the start of the 20th century, various animal friends have resided at the President’s Home. Here’s a look at Punahou’s past presidential pets since the 1900s:
Penny and Heidi
Roderick McPhee (Punahou President 1968 – 1994)
After being named the School’s 15th president, Roderick McPhee and his wife, Sharon, arrived from Maryland, with their beloved mixed-breed dog, Penny. Another dog, Heidi, became the couple’s second pup, after following Penny home one day. “She literally came home with Penny from some place behind the School and never left,” Sharon McPhee says. The McPhees put up lost dog signs, but to no avail. “Heidi was a wonderful, large dog,” Sharon said. “The children loved her.”
Arthur Floyd Griffiths (Punahou President 1902 – 1922)
One of Punahou’s most memorable presidential pets was a spunky dachshund, Boki, who took full advantage of his privileged position as the beloved pup of Punahou’s 11th President Arthur Floyd Griffiths. Eleanor Griffiths (1925) Shaw, the former president’s daughter, recalls meeting Boki for the first time, after returning to Hawai‘i from a trip. “He had a beautiful buff and blue satin ribbon around his neck with a huge bow that flapped in the breeze,” she said. Teachers remember taking Boki on a long Tantalus hike, only to find him playing dead. After being carried for miles, Boki miraculously recovered and wanted to play ball as soon as he arrived home.
Fanny and Friends
John F. Fox (Punahou President 1944 – 1968)
Punahou’s 14th president, John F. Fox, brought his beagle, Fanny, to campus after being named the School’s new leader. Soon, the family had more dogs, dachshunds, that had puppies, said daughter Mary Bell Fox ’54 Blackstone. “We had so many dogs that we built three dog runs behind our home, on the lower slope of Rocky Hill,” she said. “Most of the time, they were loose and in and out of our home, feasting on the avocado falls (their coats were so glossy) and attending all of the various and frequent receptions. The ones I remember well were Minna, Bruno, Hildy and Nancy … They loved living at Foxcliff West.”