Homer And The Holiday Miracle

Praise for Homer’s Odyssey

“A must-read for anyone who has ever loved an animal.”

—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

“Heartwarming and entertaining.”

PEOPLE Pets

“Delightful . . . This lovely human-feline memoir . . . is sure to warm the hearts of all pet lovers.”

Library Journal

“A wonderful story celebrating the profound bond that can form between feline and human. Homer’s Odyssey is an inspiring read, and a perfect holiday gift for any cat lovers on your list.”

Feline Wellness

“I am certain it would be impossible to meet Homer without falling in love with him and it is just as difficult to read this loving account without coming away with a renewed faith in the unique bond that can sometimes arise between two alien species. Gwen Cooper writes with humor, with wit, with candor, and most of all with irresistible warmth for this astonishing little feline who will steal your heart.”

—JEFFREY MOUSSAIEFF MASSON, New York Times bestselling author of The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats and When Elephants Weep

Praise for Love Saves the Day

“Once again Gwen Cooper shines her light on the territory that defines the human/animal bond. In Love Saves the Day, she creates an emotional landscape so beautifully complete that we can’t help but share in the heartbreaks and triumphs of her characters, regardless of their species. That, in itself, is a reason to stand up and cheer.”

JACKSON GALAXY, star of My Cat From Hell and author of Cat Daddy

“[A] poignant tale . . . [Gwen Cooper] once again demonstrates her compassionate fluency in felinespeak and proves equally adept at conveying compels human emotions with flair and sensitivity.”

Booklist

“Unforgettably moving . . . a hard one to put down.”

Modern Cat

“If you are the Most Important Person to a cat, you will hold them much tighter by the book’s end. If you don’t have a cat, Prudence will have surreptitiously lured you into the danger zone: Falling in love with a cat because they need family too.”

The Vancouver Sun

OTHER CAT STORIES BY GWEN COOPER

Homer’s Odyssey:

A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About

Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Homer:

The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat

Love Saves the Day

My Life in a Cat House:

True Tales of Love, Laughter, and Living with Five Felines

The Curl Up with a Cat Tale series

“I Choo-Choo-Choose You!”

“Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen”

“The Picasso of Pee”

“Cat Carrier Tango”

“THEM! A Story in Five Parts

“Fanny Trouble”

Copyright ©2018 by Gwen Cooper

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

BenBella Books, Inc.

10440 N. Central Expressway, Suite 800 | Dallas, TX 75231

www.benbellabooks.com

Send feedback to feedback@benbellabooks.com

First E-Book Edition: October 2018

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.

978-1-946885-7-84 (print)

978-1-946885-8-21 (e-book)

Editing by Leah Wilson

Copyediting by Karen Wise

Proofreading by Cape Cod Compositors, Inc.

Text design and composition by Silver Feather Design

Cover design by Sarah Avinger

Printed by Lake Book Manufacturing

Distributed to the trade by Two Rivers Distribution, an Ingram brand

www.tworiversdistribution.com

Special discounts for bulk sales (minimum of 25 copies) are available. Please contact Aida Herrera at aida@benbellabooks.com.

For the “Homer’s Heroes” in animal rescue, who work tirelessly to make sure every cat and dog has the home they deserve—at the holidays, and all year round

A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other.

—MOSHE DAVIS

CONTENTS

AUTHOR’S NOTE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Maybe you’ve already heard about the little, five-pound black cat who was the star of the internationally bestselling memoir Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat—the blind, heroic Daredevil who saved his human mom’s life the night he chased off an intruder who’d broken into their home while they slept and made his way into their bedroom; the online phenom with more than a million followers on social media who’s become the face of special-needs rescue animals the world over; the cat who lived a life of adventure and joy despite early predictions that he would always be “timid” and “dependent.”

The cat who proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer was, in many ways, a miraculous cat. But of all the miracles and wonders he performed over the years, perhaps the greatest was simply that he’d managed to survive at all. He’d very nearly been euthanized when he was only a few weeks old, simply because nobody wanted to take a chance on a kitten who was different. I’ll admit that I also had my doubts at first. Homer came into my life at the worst possible moment—when I’d just lost my fiancé, my home, and my job, all within weeks of each other. How could I possibly take care of a blind kitten when I could barely take care of myself ?

I realize now that it’s precisely during those times in our lives—the ones we describe as being the “worst possible”—when miracles are likeliest to occur. After all, if they didn’t happen when we needed them most, they wouldn’t be miracles in the first place.

Homer taught me that. And he taught me many other true and good things, without which my life would have been infinitely poorer.

I’ve been lucky enough to love and live with many wonderful cats and dogs over the years, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t known any one of them. Still, my relationship with Homer was unique. Perhaps it was inevitable that he and I became almost preternaturally close. He was only three or four weeks old when I adopted him—little more than a wee ball of black kitten fuzz who followed my footsteps so closely, as he learned to navigate his new home without the benefit of sight, that if I happened to stop short, his tiny nose ran right into my ankle. Homer listened closely to the varying tones and inflections of my voice for any clue I could give him about his surroundings—and, of course, I paid very close attention to him and his needs, especially at first. It got to the point where our hyper-awareness of each other was constant and unconscious—where not knowing what the other was doing or feeling at any given moment was the thing that would have required effort. Our closeness was a permanent and defining feature of our relationship, long after Homer had learned to get around even new and unfamiliar spaces all on his own and no longer needed me to be his seeing-eye human.

My husband, Laurence (a longtime comicbook fan), who came into our lives seven years later, used to say that Homer was my “symbiote.” When I was happy, Homer rejoiced. If I was in a bad mood, Homer also took to moping around the house.

It was hard to stay in a bad mood for very long, though, with Homer around. He loved getting into the kind of trouble that could always coax a laugh out of me—scaling a pair of jeans hanging in the closet to reach some forbidden top shelf where I’d stashed a trove of cat toys, or “hiding” in plain sight in the middle of the floor (being blind, Homer thought quiet and invisible were the same thing) as he prepared to spring out at me in a “surprise” attack. Despite those early predictions that he might never be more than a “scaredy-cat,” Homer lived a life of courage and joy—and became proof positive, to all who knew him, that nobody can ever tell you what your potential is.

If you already know Homer, you’ll get to catch up with some old acquaintances through the pages of this tale. You’ll also meet a couple of furry new additions to our household, which has continued to grow and flourish since Homer’s story was published and he was first introduced to the world.

If you’re a newcomer, we’re delighted that you’ve chosen to spend some of your holiday season with our family. More than just about anything else he loved—and he fiercely loved many, many things—Homer’s greatest joy was making new friends.