Review: Purr Prints of the Heart: A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond

purr-prints-of-the-heart

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.

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9 Comments on Review: Purr Prints of the Heart: A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond

  1. Dan
    May 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm (2 years ago)

    Very nice review Ingrid, and I too enjoyed Buckley’s Story.

    On a personal note, we can’t thank you enough for giving us the heads-up about our most recent rescue, Jazmine. Thanks to you, we have an incredible new member of our feline family. Although she can never replace our Mr. Jazz, to say that she has stolen our heart would be an understatement!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m beyond thrilled that I had a little something to do with Jazmine becoming part of your family, Dan.

      Reply
  2. Sue Brandes
    May 1, 2015 at 1:09 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the review. Will be adding this to my reading. Brought tears to my eyes too reading your post.

    Reply
  3. Will Hodges
    May 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm (2 years ago)

    When I read your review of this book, I immediately went to Amazon.com and discovered that there is a Kindle version of it for only $ 4.99. As others have mentioned, your description brought tears to my eyes. I bought the book last evening (Kindle version) and look forward to start reading it later today.

    Reply
  4. Ronnie
    May 1, 2015 at 8:24 am (2 years ago)

    I am crying already, reading your review.

    Memories of my special, spiritual Fur Person, “My Kitty.” She will be gone 3 years this August. After 23 years with her, I was more than devastated when she crossed the Bridge.

    I came one from the vet, alone this time, & immediately went Online seeking help. And again Ingrid, your loving tribute, “Buckley’s Story,” was the FIRST I saw.

    I had the book in my hands in an hour & read it right through. It was my story too. I was comforted. Thank you Ingrid. There are NO coincidences. Bless You <3

    And I definitely will get this book, "Purr Prints of the Heart." Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Janine
    May 1, 2015 at 7:37 am (2 years ago)

    I have to get this book. I always enjoy reading these kinds of stories.

    Reply
  6. Deborah Barnes
    May 1, 2015 at 7:33 am (2 years ago)

    Ingrid – When I initially set out to review your book, Buckley’s Story, several years ago, I will admit I put the task off for several weeks, leaving the book on my kitchen counter because I was not sure if I could cope emotionally. While I had lost many pets over the course of my life, there were two – my beloved Bailey and Kit – that were particularly hard for me to accept.

    Just like with my book, Purr Prints of the Heart, knowing from the beginning how Buckley’s Story would end, I just didn’t think I could do it. However, once I made the decision to start reading, I couldn’t put Buckley’s Story down. I cried and cried, but the most wonderful and miraculous thing happened. Rather than be tears of pain, they were therapeutic tears of acceptance, comfort, and joy.

    I was now able to look back on the memories of my dear one’s with a smile and rather than dwell on the sadness, I was remembering all the good. And the bottom line is this; we never lose our pets completely, because a part of them always stays in our hearts.

    Buckley’s Story has always remained in my heart, and I am so grateful to know that is how Purr Prints of the Heart resonated with you. Thank you so much for this beautifully written and touching review of my book. You captured the essence of the story with a simple eloquence and I know Mr. Jazz is happy from above that he was able to bring Amber and Buckley just a bit closer to your heart.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 1, 2015 at 8:20 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for your beautiful words about Buckley’s Story, Deb. I have a feeling Mr. Jazz and Buckley are both smiling.

      Reply
  7. Maggie G
    May 1, 2015 at 4:39 am (2 years ago)

    Wow, when I looked up from reading the synopsis of this book, I realized I had tears streaming my face – without even reading the book! I just know it will touch my heart in ways I can’t even comprehend yet. Hope I can find it here in Canada so I can snuggle up with my furry kids & read it.

    Maggie

    Reply

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