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


For fans of A Street Cat Named Bob and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, Strays : A Lost Cat, A Homeless Man and Their Journey Across America is a compelling true story of a man who rescues a stray, injured cat and how they save each other.

From the publisher:

Homeless, alcoholic, and depressed, Michael King lives in a UPS loading bay on the wrong side of the tracks in Portland, Oregon. One rainy night, he stumbles upon a hurt, starving, scruffy cat and takes her in. Nursing her back to health, he names her Tabor and she becomes a bit of a celebrity in southeast Portland. When winter comes, they travel from Oregon to the beaches of California to the high plains of Montana, surviving blizzards and bears, angry steers and rainstorms. Along the way, people are drawn to the spirited, beautiful cat and moved to help Michael, who cuts a striking figure with Tabor riding high on his backpack or walking on a leash. Tabor comforts Michael when he’s down, giving Michael someone to love and care for, and inspiring him to get sober and to come to terms with his past family traumas and grief over the death of his life partner.

As they make their way across the West Coast, the pair become inseparable, healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts. But when Michael takes Tabor to a veterinarian in Montana, he discovers that Tabor has an identification chip and an owner in Portland who has never given up hope of finding his beloved cat, Michael makes the difficult choice to return to Portland and reunite Tabor with her owner. Now Michael must create a new purpose in his life after Tabor.

This beautifully written book is heartwarming, but I also found it very difficult to read. To me, there’s nothing worse than the thought of a lost cat, and while I enjoyed reading about the incredible bond King forms with Tabor, and was touched by how deeply he came to care about the cat and took care of her, often at great personal sacrifice, I found the passages about Tabor’s real owner, Ron Buss, absolutely gut-wrenching. Buss spent the entire 10 months Tabor was missing distraught, even suspecting his neighbor of killing her.

Strays is written with great sensitivity by a gifted writer, but for me, it wasn’t as easy a read as A Street Cat Name Bob and Dewey. I suspect that my reaction to the book is colored by some recent personal losses, and I may just not have been in the right frame of mind to read it. I do believe that great books evoke great emotion in the reader, and Strays certainly did that for me.

This is ultimately a story about the healing power of cats. It’s a story about doing the right thing, even when it rips your heart out to do so, and it’s a story of love and hope.

Strays is available from Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

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7 Comments on Strays by Britt Collins (2023 Book Review)

  1. I so appreciate the various books you review… library system has most of them.
    I am in the midst of Strays, and it is an intense story, but a very unique one.
    Like the Street Cat Bob, as soon as a homeless person has a pet, people notice them, especially more so with a cat..
    a line from the book: ” The Homeless have an ethic—they take of their animals first”

  2. I saw this book in the bookstore before you did the review and I could tell when I read the cover notes that I probably didn’t want to read it, specifically because it has the conflict of the owner of the missing cat. I am glad that you wrote about that Ingrid. I am sure that it is wonderful book but probably not for me. I prefer the ultimate happy ending of A Street Cat Named Bob. And by the way, we saw Bob and James in person in London last month at a fundraiser for a homeless shelter! They were every bit as wonderful as I imagined!

    • Oh, I’m so “jealous” that you got to meet James and Bob, Michelle! I hope some day, they’ll come to the US.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Strays is a very uplifting story and does have a happy ending—Ron got his cat Mata (Tabor) back twice. And while Michael gave her up, she has helped him enormously and he’s now helping Portland Street kids. Also, while I was in Portland the second time interviewing them, Ron and I rescued an abandoned black kitten and she joined his feline family.

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