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 Quiet and withdrawn, he appeared lost in his own world.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.
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
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.