Some books about animals warm your heart. Others touch your soul. Homer’s Odyssey, subtitled A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat falls into the second category. This moving, inspirational and often funny story about a blind cat with a huge spirit and an endless capacity for love, joy and a determination to persevere no matter what the obstacles is a wonderful celebration of the bond between a cat and his human and the transformational power of loving an animal.
Homer’s story begins when the stray kitten is brought to Miami veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly (who wrote the foreword to the book), host of the popular veterinary blog Dolittler, at only three weeks of age. Homer loses both eyes to a severe eye infection, and while nobody would have faulted Dr. Khuly for euthanizing this kitten, she saw something in him that made her determined to save him. When Gwen gets a call from Dr. Khuly asking whether she would come take a look at this kitten, the last thing the author wants is another cat. She already has two, and she’s worried about crossing the line into crazy cat lady territory by adopting another one. But she agrees to take a look – and falls in love.
Homer, the blind kitten who doesn’t know he’s blind, has a giant heart and an indomitable spirit. He quickly adapts to new situations and environments, and turns into a feline daredevil who scales tall bookcases in a single bound and catches flies by jumping five feet into the air. Eventually, Gwen and the three cats move from Miami to New York City (and the story of their move is an adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat with worry and concern for this family of four). Adjusting to city living in a cold climate takes some time, but once again, Homer’s adaptable spirit triumphs. He even survives being trapped with his two feline companion for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center.
But it wasn’t Homer’s physical feats and his ability to adapt to physical limitations that ultimately transformed the author’s life. Homer’s unending capacity for love and joy, no matter what life’s challenges may be, were a daily inspiration for Gwen, and ultimately taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
It’s rare that a pet memoir is the kind of book you can’t put down – but this one is. Thankfully, I knew at the outset that Home is alive and well, so unlike what happens with so many books in this genre, I didn’t expect to cry while reading this book. Little did I know how the gut-wrenching account of the author’s experience in the days following 9/11 would affect me. Gwen Cooper lived through every cat owners’ nightmare – fearing for the safety and survival of her cats, and being unable to get to them for several days. The moving narrative and emotional impact of this chapter will leave few cat lovers unaffected.
Homer’s Odyssey is a must-read, to quote from the book’s cover, “for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and hopelessly in love with a pet.”
Coming soon on The Conscious Cat: an interview with author Gwen Cooper.