Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 12, 2023 by Crystal Uys


When the publicist for The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas: How a Cat Brought a Family The Gift of Love, a book about the author’s young autistic son and the cat that changed both their lives, asked me whether I would be interested in reviewing the book, I immediately agreed. It’s no secret that I love stories about cats who change and heal their humans’ lives.

From the publisher:

Julia’s nine-year-old son George was autistic. Quiet and withdrawn, he appeared lost in his own world. Then one day a small black-and-white stray cat appeared in her garden and George’s face lit up. George bonded with Ben and began to open up to his mother as well. For three happy years, the trio was inseparable and George made remarkable progress. But then disaster struck–Ben went missing and George regressed. The weeks turned into months, and Christmas was fast approaching, but on December 21, Julia got a call from a family more than fifty miles away, which finally offered a ray of hope . . . Genuinely touching, “The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas” is a story about devotion, love, and a holiday miracle.

This book has all the ingredients that usually make me love a cat story. The way in which Ben the cat manages to break through George’s seemingly impenetrable shell is heart touching. As George’s world expands, Julia’s life does, too. Ben is an extraordinary cat, and his bond with George is truly remarkable.

The first half of the book focuses almost entirely on the author’s challenges of dealing with George’s autism. Romp’s is painfully honest about the difficulties she faced, but I would have liked to hear more about Ben right from the start of the book. Once Ben enters the story, I enjoyed the book more, even though I found the section after Ben goes missing very difficult to read. The heartbreak of a missing cat is gut-wrenching enough by itself, but to read about George slipping back into his pre-Ben habits of closing himself off from the world and his mother was distressing. Thankfully, Julia never gave up looking for Ben, and even though the book’s title obviously gives away the ending, I still found myself reading with a knot in my stomach until Ben finally returned.

Cat sleeping while woman owner reads book
Image Credit: Ilike, Shutterstock

Even though this is a book about an exceptional cat, it is primarily the story of a mother’s journey through the challenges of her son’s autism. I would have liked to have seen Ben get more attention from the very beginning of the book. This is a good book, full of hope and inspiration, but it left me wanting more.

Julia Romp lives in Greater London with her son George and their cat Ben. When she is not looking after her family and the strays in the area, Julia works for the charity Lost and Found helping to re-home cats. After the success of her campaign to find Ben, Julia has become known as the local pet detective.

About the author

32 Comments on The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas by Julia Romp (2023 Review)

  1. Thank you for a chance to win a copy of this book. I would love to read this book because I have personally seen, in my profession, how animals can literally bring patients out of their shell, when others had little to no hope.

  2. A dear friend of mine, has an autistic child. I have witnessed the happy times and the sad times. I have known her sacrifices and her heartaches for her boy. She created a non-profit organization called “Sean Me” which creates and funds different events for these precious souls. Her devotion to the children is outstanding. To watch her work with the children can and has brought tears to many an eye. This book would not be for me, but it would be for her.

  3. I have worked with autistic children in our schools as a paraeducator for seven years, and am a lifetime cat lover. Four years ago when our city was catastrophically flooded (one of the top 5 natural disasters in the USA), I adopted three flood kittens, who gave me the courage, strength and humor to rebuild my flood-damaged home. I can relate to the empathetic support our feline friends offer when people are hurting or feel isolated. This sounds like a lovely book which echoes that theme – I would love to receive a copy!

  4. It sounds like another wonderful story to read. And I like happy endings 😉
    The cover is cute, too.

  5. Two years ago in June, my sweet Rondo got out of the house and went missing. I can’t even explain the amount of heartbreak I felt. This little cat was my soulmate. We searched and searched, put out flyers, did everything we could think of, but we couldn’t locate Rondo. Somehow I got it in my head that on that first Christmas w/out him, he would return. I couldn’t wait for Christmas. I was like a child again. On Christmas morning, I ran down the stairs to the front door, threw it open, just knowing in my heart that Rondo would be sitting there waiting to be let in. When I looked and the porch was empty, I thought my heart would shatter. And I didn’t even have an autistic child to think of. I can only imagine Julia’s devastation at Ben going missing. I’d love to read this book. It would be nice to read the happy ending.

  6. I love reading books about cats and also love reading books about medical issues so the two together is a perfect thing! My favorite book about those two things was’ Making Rounds with Oscar’..the best book ever!

  7. I have always loved cats; however, unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of reading a book featuring one. I would love to start with this one!

  8. My son Jonathan is Autistic and has been able to really open up and love our cat Charlie (who looks very much like the cat on the book),I really believe animals have a sense of knowing if someone is “different”,Charlie has always been very sweet and gentle with my son,their love is unconditional and beautiful.I’d love to win and read this book to my son,Thanks for the opportunity. 🙂

  9. My son has speech apraxia, so I understand the idea of a child being trapped in his own thoughts. This book would be very touching to me!

  10. Well it’s got four things that I love:
    1. Cats – my favorite thing in the world, especially black & white cats like my very first kitty
    2. Books – another fav AND it would go nicely with my cat book collection
    3. Christmas – my favorite holiday
    4. Kids – I’ve worked with kids since I was 11, a couple of them are autistic

  11. I would love to read this book and add it to my library of cat books. Cats really help autistic children and adults. My cats adopted me so it is no surprise this cat adopted this family in this book. I think reading this book would be a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. it is not far off now. Thanks again for offering such a great giveaway to your readers. I will tweet about this and post this on my Facebook profile too.

  12. Aww what a cute kitty. I love kitty stories. I would love to read this because of the mother’s journey and how this pretty kitty helped. Thanks for the giveaway.

  13. My bestest buddy has an autistic grandchild, and it breaks her heart. Since she is a cat lady, I know she would be uplifted by reading this book. So this would be a gift for V.

  14. Well I will begin by saying I LOVE CATS! Currently I have an even dozen, I never would have dreamed that I would have this many felines at one time, but they each have their own unique story that made its way into our hearts. My family and friends say that I’m easy to buy a gift for, hence shelves of wonderful knick-knacks, kitchen towels, lamps, jewelry, calenders, oh and my favorite–Christmas ornaments and decorations.I go all out at Christmastime and I love unpacking my containers of my wonderful Christmas Cats that have so carefully and gently been stored away the year before, I actually get a slight flicker of a butterfly in my tummy as I unwrap the tissue papers protecting my cherished Christmas cat anticipating which one it will be. Will it be the miniature rubber pencil eraser of a cute kitten dancing on top of a present bought for me by my daughter at her elementary schools’ Santa’s Secret Shop when she was a 3rd grader?(That daughter is now 33 yrs. old!) Or will it be a set of cat angels, one red, the other green, that a sweet friend from years past gave to me, her name was Lisa and we haven’t had contact for many years. Or maybe this one will be the one I bought for myself a long time ago, it’s called a ‘Snow Baby’ and it’s a little girl dressed in a red snow suit with white trim around the cuffs and hood , she’s standing holding a kitty like a child does, kind of by the neck with it’s body stretched out, but not hurting it ! The most special meaning to all of “Mom’s Christmas Cats” is I can remember each and every person whether it be a relative or friend, some gone, most living, that lovingly gave me which specific Christmas cat and it makes me feel so special and so loved! “Meowy Christmas Everyone!”

  15. I work with special needs kids and know how much animals can change their lives for the better! I am looking forward to reading this book and donating a copy to our school library.

  16. would love to have this!!! I remember that story and just loved it!!! We , as humans, have so much to learn from the anipals!!! ♥ ♥

  17. One of my nephews is autistic. He dearly loved his dog Scooter. He was heartbroken when Scooter had to leave for the Rainbow Bridge last year after a long, happy life. I’d love to read how a cat and an autistic boy interacted.

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