Once in nine lives, something extraordinary happens...
The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.
Everyone warned that Homer would always be an "underachiever," never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.
But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.
Amazon Exclusive: Gwen Cooper on Homer's Odyssey
I never wanted to be a writer of non-fiction. While I can honestly say that I dreamt of being a writer from my earliest discovery of books, memoirs held no interest for me. The stories I loved—and devoured with a single-minded intensity that charmed my English teachers while causing my math teachers to gnash their teeth in frustration—were stories that were larger than life, that played out on a grand scale. I read fairy tales, mythology (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Native American, you name it), epic poems, novels about soldiers, pirates, adventurers, explorers, heroes, magicians, revolutionaries, beautiful damsels, dashing cads, romances, tragedies, comedies—everything, in short, that struck me as just a touch more interesting than real life ever seemed to be.
It amazes me now that, for years, I never thought about Homer as being the hero of his own story. I knew that he was extraordinary, I knew that everybody who ever met him was full of questions—wanting to know why and how. But he was also just my cat, the goofy little guy who jumped around in circles when I came home at night, who loved to chase around stuffed toys, insisted on getting his fair share of tuna if I was making a tuna sandwich, and curled up in a tight ball on my left knee whenever I sat at the computer to email friends or finish up work projects.
The idea of writing about Homer didn’t occur to me until Laurence, my husband—who was then my boyfriend—met him for the first time and wanted to know (as most people do) how it was that Homer ended up blind. When I told him how Homer had been abandoned shortly after birth, how he’d been near death until he was brought in to my veterinarian, how the price of saving his life had been the loss of his vision, and how he’d still nearly met an inglorious end in an animal shelter because nobody wanted to adopt him until finally my vet called me—when he heard all that, Laurence’s response was, "He’s like Daredevil, like a comic book superhero. He has an origin story and everything."
Laurence was quite pleased with this analogy, and loved to expound upon it. When he observed that Homer was braver, faster, and more agile than my two sighted cats, or when he saw Homer leap five feet straight into the air to catch a buzzing fly in mid-flight, he would talk about Homer’s "superpowers." When I told him how Homer had once single-handedly chased off a burglar who broke into my apartment in the middle of the night, Laurence said, “You’re a storyteller—why don’t you tell some of these stories?”
It’s impossible to quantify or define the ways in which Homer has moved me, inspired me, and flat-out entertained me over the years. But perhaps the greatest gift he’s given me is the ability to find the heroism and grandeur of my favorite stories smack-dab in the middle of my everyday life. Don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of action and larger-than-life adventure tales to be found in these pages. But Homer is extraordinary even when he’s at his most ordinary. No aspiring writer in love with adventure stories could have asked for better material.
I always wanted to be a writer, but I never wanted to be a writer of non-fiction. Sometimes, things work out differently than you think they will. Sometimes life picks you up and drops you in the middle of a story that’s better than any you could ever have imagined. Sometimes you don’t know what’s missing until you find it. Homer is the living proof.—Gwen Cooper