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.

3 Comments on Book Review: “Homer’s Odyssey” by Gwen Cooper

  1. I know this is an old review but, I just can’t believe there are no comments. I love cat books and have read them all.This was the one book that, although I had long heard how good it was, I could not read it.I bought it but ,year after year I would pick it up and then quickly put it back down.,friends told me it was great but I just had a funny feeling when I picked it up.6 months ago my feline love , Desmond , also a lively black cat suddenly died.I was so devastated that I forbade anyone from mentioning his name, when my mind wandered to him I made myself think of something else. I have had to say good bye to cats before and I had grieved each one. On the night Desmond died it was so unexpected , I collapsed into screaming and crying and then I put it away. Last Friday while cleaning my shelves I found this book. I took a seat and read the whole thing that evening. I began crying from page 1 ( in good way) . I loved all 3 of these cats and Gwen herself.The beautiful spirit of Homer was evident on every page and the love between Gwen, the cats and eventually Laurence was so touching. I realize why it took me so long to read the book, I needed it now, in this story I found something of my own life with my 3 cats, I was finally able to be grateful for my special relationship with Desmond and grieve and say good -bye. This book and the story of Homer will be forever special to me.

    • I’m so sorry about Desmond, Maureen. I’m glad this book found you when you were ready for it, Maureen. I hope you’ll consider letting Gwen know how much the book means to you.

      • I will , I have been trying to find a way to express it. I just did not want to write it on Facebook.

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