Anyone who has been blessed with the love of a special cat has either experienced the devastating pain that comes with losing him or her, or will, inevitably, be going through the experience eventually. These beautiful beings just never live long enough, no matter how old they get. Grief is both a universal and an individual experience. Each relationship between a cat and his or her human is unique, and every human brings all of his or her past background with loss to the journey through bereavement. One thing that can help make the process a little less painful is to know that others have been there, too.
In Purr Prints of the Heart: A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond, Deborah Barnes shares the story of her ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz, from the time she brought him home as a sickly little kitten to the day, fifteen years later, when she had to let her precious companion go. Told by Mr. Jazz himself, this book provides a look at life and death from a pet’s perspective of both the joyful times, and the sadness at the end of life. But, writes Mr. Jazz, “”this story is really a celebration…of my life and of all animals who find a way into the hearts and homes of our human guardians across the world.”
Mr. Jazz takes us from life as a kitten to joining the author’s busy household to his final week. From meeting his new family to surviving the stress of a major remodeling project to witnessing the birth of an unexpected litter of kittens (readers of Barnes’ previous book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, will recognize some of the stories,) Mr. Jazz’s life is filled with ordinary and extraordinary moments.
As Mr. Jazz’s health begins to decline, the reader gets to experience what this is like from a cat’s point of view. Unlike similar accounts of a sick pet going through a serious illness, which are usually presented from the caretaker’s point of view, Mr. Jazz shares what the process looks like for the cat. His description of the final days with his humans is heart-breakingly beautiful.
The book concludes with an epilogue that may give hope to all whose hearts have been broken, as Mr. Jazz shares his experiences from “the other side,” including some ways in which he was still taking care of the author even after his passing. As someone who believes that the spiritual connection with our cats never dies, I found this section particularly beautiful and comforting.
Reading this book is like being wrapped up in a warm hug of comfort. Barnes ( or rather, Mr. Jazz) writes with great sensitivity, and captures all the emotions of their joint journey in a way that is sure to touch the reader’s heart. Yes, the book will make you cry – but it will also bring back fond memories of the cats in your life that have passed on.
On a personal note, I had a very strong sense of both Buckley and Amber’s presence after I finished reading the book. Now mind you, both of them are very much a part of my life every day, even though they’ve been gone seven and five years respectively, but sometimes, it takes something like this book to amplify the feeling of their presence, and for that, I thank Deborah Barnes and Mr. Jazz.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.