The State of the Kitty Union

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My new book comes out next week--so before all the craziness starts, a general update on Homer and his health!

I'm thrilled to be able to report that Homer is doing well.  Exceptionally well.  Unbelievably well, given the dire predictions the doctors gave me a few weeks ago.  He's eating like a champ, playing a bit (perhaps not as frequently or vigorously as he did a few years ago, but he's an old man after all), and cuddling and purring like crazy.  Laurence goes out every single day--even Sundays--to get Homer fresh deli turkey, because Homer has expressed a clear preference for fresh, moist turkey over turkey that's even a day old.  Homer has become very mistrustful of anybody who isn't me since that horrible experience at the vet's office, and unfortunately that means he won't let Laurence (or the kittens, for that matter) pet him or even get too close.  I can't help wishing he'd show Laurence a teensy bit of gratitude, since Laurence waits in that loooong line at the deli every day for Homer's sake.  Still, Laurence gets a huge kick out of seeing Homer eat so enthusiastically, and when Homer hears Laurence's voice he does start sniffing eagerly on the ground, "looking" for the treats he's come to associate with Laurence's presence.  Laurence gets a kick out of that, too.  So I suppose the two of them have their own understanding between them that makes them both happy, even if it perplexes me a bit.  ;-)

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As you know (at least, I hope you know!) my new book--LOVE SAVES THE DAY--comes out on Tuesday of this week.  (Eep!!!)  A few of you have expressed concern over my leaving Homer (given his current health) to go on my proposed 15-city book tour of no-kill shelters instead of bookstores.  Even when the concern is critical of me (;-p), I'm always genuinely touched and grateful for all the concern people have for Homer,and his happiness and well-being.  So I wanted to take a moment and address some of those concerns here.

Let me start out by saying that the tour won't commence until April or May.  I want plenty of time to work out the logistics, and of course to see a bit of warmer weather in the shelters I visit up north.  I don't know what will be with Homer's health four or five months from now--four or five months ago, he was fit as a fiddle!--and have decided not to worry about that right now more than I can help.  And Homer's been on such a wonderful upward trajectory these last couple of weeks that I'm cautiously optimistic that his health will continue to improve in the months to come.

I'll also say that my plan is to visit the shelters on the tour at the rate of about one a week, so that I get to spend some quality time at each shelter--which means a) that the tour will take place over a few months, and b) that I shouldn't be gone from Homer more than two or three days at a time.  That may end up stretching out a bit by the time I get to the west coast, as it may not make sense--for example--to fly out to Seattle, fly back to New York two or three days later, and then a few days after that fly back out to San Francisco.  Again, though, we'll see where everything stands at that point (I may not make it out west until July) and make decisions that make sense at that point.

In a more general sense, though--and perhaps this is me being defensive or rationalizing things--the simple reality is that this is what I do for a living.  One of the many tremendous benefits in doing what I do is that I get to work from home.  For the past five years or so, and with the exception of a handful of brief trips, I've been able to spend about 21 hours a day every day with Homer right by my side.  Having spent the past three years pretty much continually nursing elderly cats through things like chronic renal failure, cancer, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, liver infections, IBS (and more!), I've come to appreciate this luxury all the more.  I've heard from many, many, many readers over the past couple of years who've nursed their own cats through similar illnesses, and never fail to marvel at how utterly, painfully difficult it must be to do so for those who also have to be in an office eight to ten hours a day.  

When I was unable to get a cat to take his or her morning pills or shots, I was able to wait an hour or two and try it again.  If I put down food and noticed at around midday that it was still untouched, I was able to try a different combination that would hopefully prove more tempting in getting a sick kitty to eat.  Any sudden changes and declines in their general health were noted and acted on immediately rather than hours later.  (If I hadn't been home at 11:30am on the day Homer fell down a few weeks back, I might not even have known he was so ill in the first place.)  I know all the worry and anxiety I felt and feel for my cats, and can't even imagine what those of you who have to be away from your own elderly cats for such long stretches of the day must go through.  All I can do is admire your strength and commitment from afar and ask myself if I'd be able to do what you do if I were in your shoes.  I honestly don't know that I'd be able to live up to the standard so many of you have set.

But the trade-off to this wonderful luxury I get to enjoy is that every three years or so, I have to hit the road for a time.  I do so to pay for the other little luxuries we've all become accustomed to around here, like food and rent and the insanely high health insurance premiums you have to pay when you don't have employer-provided health coverage.  ;-p  I'm being a bit facetious (we're not in any immediate danger of starving--I promise!), but the reality remains that books don't promote themselves, and unsold books don't earn their writers any income. 

Again, I acknowledge a certain amount of defensiveness in the length of this post.  But I do also want to assure everybody that while I don't value my work above Homer and his health, realistically it is something that has to be factored into the equation of what's best for my entire family--kitties and humans alike.  I will try very hard to stay on the right side of that balance.  I will try even harder to ensure that Homer's health and happiness are not negatively affected even a tiny bit by the work that I do.

Best of all, I go into this knowing that I'll have all of you to help me make sure I keep that balance straight!  :-D

 

 

Comments

  • Cynthia Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Go Homer!!!

    Glad to hear Homer is doing so well! He is a miracle kitty for sure! & God bless you for being such great parents to him & the other beautiful kitties. I think you take amazing care of them, & am especially glad to see you have a soft spot for black kitties like I do. Sad how so many people pass them up because of silly superstitions. Anyway, God bless you again for taking such great care of the babies! I've had many cats over the years, currently have 9, & the demands of a sick cat can be brutal. It's not easy being a caregiver, but it is so worth it, as I'm sure you know!
    Best of luck with the new book- I wish you tons of success with it! I'm a writer as well, & isn't it the most wonderful feeling when a new book comes out?? :D

  • Lisa Richman (A Tonk's Tail) Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Thanks for the update!

    And here's one more affirmation for you. I agree, there's no way to predict what life's going to be like 3 weeks from now, much less 3 months (or more) from now.

    The way you plan to arrange your book tour is fantastic, amazing, admirable (the adjectives just keep coming ;-) and it's such a wonderful way to promote your book. Thank you for deciding to do it that way!

    We're all rooting for Homer to continue on the road back to good health - and thank you SO much for telling us how he's doing. We eagerly await each update!

    (And we plan to review Love Saves the Day on our blog as soon as it arrives, too. :-)

  • JULIE ENGLER Saturday, 12 January 2013

    JUST COMMON SENSE

    You have a good head on your shoulders, Gwen. I don't even see this blog as a bit defensive, rather I see it as plain common sense. After all, bills do have to be paid, and this includes the bills for all that fresh deli turkey. I am looking forward to hearing all about the forthcoming madness, let's face it, it's going to be fun, and it will bring new experiences, new friends, and extra attention for all of you! And I am sure that you will plan your tour with care and concern for all involved, especially Homer. I am hoping you will be able to visit a city within driving distance of me. My daughter and I have discussed it and we think that, even sick as I am, the experience of being able to see you would be good for me, in fact just thinking about it makes me smile. We only have today, Gwen, because we do not know what tomorrow may bring, so: one day at a time, one step at a time, make the most of every moment and enjoy!!!

  • Sherry York Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Homer

    Hi Gwen,

    I am so glad Homer is doing so well. I just wanted to make a suggestion on Homer's vet experience. I am sure there are vets in your area that make house calls as here is Michigan we have a few. That might be an option if Homer needs to see the vet again. Also I have read Anita Frazers book on holsitic food and care for our cats. She used to live the New York area and I am sure she would be able to give you some good advice for mantaining Homer's health.

    Good luck with Homer. I love your book. I have 5 cats of my own and feel a great affection for Homer and your story.
    Looking forward to reading your new book!!

  • Hope Prinzivalli Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Gwen, we all stress about our furry family members, and I am sure that before anyone voiced a concern over you leaving Homer, you had already thought it all! It is very stressful to leave our animals when we know how much they love and depend on us, but as you said, there has to be a balance in ones life. You have the luxury to work from home, and really be a stay at home cat Mom and that is WONDERFUL!!!!! Hey, if you have to go once in a while, that's what you have to do!!! If I lived closer, I would go over and visit those kitties for a couple hours every day for you!! So glad Homer is doing so wonderful!!!! SO,SO GLAD!!!! Keeping you and yours in thoughts and prayers! Hugs and squeezies to those KITTIES!!!! So cute! Hope :)

  • Vickie S. Saturday, 12 January 2013

    And......

    This is why you're a writer, Gwen! Thanks for the wonderful update; we know you've got lots of important things going on right now and appreciate hearing about "our" Homer (and Laurence of course). I so identify with standing in line for the turkey breast. I may have mentioned before that for many years I faithfully went to Publix every single day for one slice of Louis Rich catering quality turkey breast (now I would probably invest in Boar's Head) which I split between my three kitties. If it was a day old they didn't want any part of it and that's why I went every day....with pleasure! My two eldest have passed on and now I just get it for a treat for my Isabel once in a while since she much prefers Fage yogurt!!

  • SHERRI Saturday, 12 January 2013

    HOORAY FOR HOMER AND HIS HUMAN MOMMY!

    Gwen, Know that all your readers love Homer so much, and love that he is doing better and you are by his side every step of the way. When you are away on your book tour, I hope you take comfort in the fact that so many people all over the world love Homer, and knowing that will comfort you when you are away from him until you can get back to him. You have so much support, love and understanding from all of Homer's followers. He is the best kitty, and you are a super mom! Keep up the good work taking care of Homer and keeping everyone updated on his progress!

  • Luis Willis Saturday, 12 January 2013

    You are one great lady!

    What you did for Homer and all your kitties took a lot of sacrifice and love, people have to understand that you also have a life to balance between them and Laurence, but you know that when you go public with a blog someone out there will always know what's better for you!
    I'm still reading Homer's book and look forward to your new one!
    God Bless.

  • Billy Sargent Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Gwen Rocks, Homer's blessedly lucky!

    I was watching an old Tom & Jerry cartoon the other day where Tom dreamnt he'd died but couldn't board the train to heaven without Jerry's signature on a certificate of forgiveness. Ahead of Tom in line were several other cats & the cat at the ticket booth read off each one's name & cause of death as they entered. A sack wiggled up & out came three sopping kittens. I'd like to think that in this day & age that's a relic of the past, but we all know better.
    Imagine how many cats are murdered because they're imperfect in some way; not loving enough, blind, birth defects resulting in stunted limbs... I'm ashamed to say a member of my family had a cat euthanized because the cat wasn't friendly & he couldn't take the cat to his new residence- this despite knowing how tender I am about cats & my having already taken in another of his cats!
    Homer has the best home possible thanks to Gwen & Laurence. No matter who is with him, he is looked after & loved. What more can a cat, or we, ask for?

    Read Sisypuss: Memoirs of a Vagabond Cat for a disturbing glimpse of Homer's might-have-been. Then read Love saves the day to comfort yourself. (After I read Sisypuss I re-read Homer's & Dewey's books to feel better)
    http://www.amazon.com/Sisypuss-Memoirs-Vagabond-Cat-ebook/dp/B001ECQK8O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358006854&sr=8-2&keywords=sisypuss

  • Tracy Feeney Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Homer knows he's your #1 priority.

    I have had the experiences of caring for a sick/elderly cat while working long hours away from him as well as being home and available 24x7. We all must do what we must do - and no one should judge the choices another pet Mama makes. My prayers and best wishes for Homer's continued excellent health, and for your success - that good turkey isn't free! :)

  • Lilly Saturday, 12 January 2013

    You, Laurence and Homer

    Hopefully Homer will learn to trust Laurence more since he brings home "the turkey"....you will be working on that no matter if the tour starts or not. I totally understand from all aspects where you are. I know Laurence is not going to let anything happen to Homer any more than you are. Maybe if you 2 cuddle and Homer has to cuddle with both of you to get to you, he will see if you trust Laurence he can. Do you have to use that vet? Wasn't that unusual, or was that normal for them? I know you have been in NY long enough to have vets but gosh that did seem traumatic all the way around. Homer does know who to trust and just like most animals, I have two black cats, more than any others we have had, seem to stay closer to me than others.

  • Lin Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Think of critics like clueless relatives: well-meaning, but butting in on your life without really knowing what's going out. And giving unsolicited advice, too. :-)
    Only you and Laurence know what is best for your family. And you are doing it!

  • Lenai Waite Saturday, 12 January 2013

    No explainations necessary...

    Gwen, don't feel like you owe anybody an explaination for why/how you do anything! Everyone here knows how much you have devoted to Homer, and the rest of your family. There's always going to be the ones who think their way is the only way. You're doing the right thing for all concerned, and I hope to see you in the Jacksonville area (hint hint) soon!

  • Tina Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Homer

    I am so glad Homer is doing better!!! You're an awesome mom and he's so lucky to have you as well as the rest of your clan :).

  • Pam Wesolowski Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Hooray Homer!

    Gwen,

    So very happy to hear that Homer is holding his own. And glad to see that you are as well! You've all been much in my mind and of course the Homer prayers have been flying!
    You just do what you do and ignore the NOT-Moms of Homer. You are Homer's mom and friend and have been since the beginning. You have all the wisdom and love you need to continue to care for the love and bond that you and Homer have. I am excited about the new book and wish you enough sales to keep Homer in fresh deli turkey forever! (Bless Laurence)

  • Brenda Ritter Saturday, 12 January 2013

    I will definitely buy your new book and I pray for Homer's continued good health. We all have to work in order to survive and all my animals know that...when I leave for work my last words are I'm going to work to earn more kitty food, dog food and bird seed! Be well momma and Lawrence (what a wonderful man and papa) and I look forward to your new read! Be safe and God bless you all.

  • June and Sienna Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Such Good News!!

    I am so glad to read the blog posting and hear that Homer is thriving. Keep that fresh deli turkey coming! Of course you have to do what your livelihood requires and there is no doubt that Homer is being looked after, even when you can't be there. Perhaps if you are not there, Homer will let Laurence pet him now and then. Please know that Sienna and I check on Homer daily via the blog and the Facebook updates and that our thoughts are always with you. I can't wait to read the book!

  • S. Huang Saturday, 12 January 2013

    thanks for the update

    I look forward to the updates on Homer and the kittens. can't wait to check out the new book next week! All the best to you.

  • Gloria Caballero Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Hopin you come to El Paso!

    Gwen, we here at SCOOTERS PLACE give you high paws for the quality of life you and yours provide to Homer and others. We all gotta do whatever we have to do to provide for our two, three and four legged kids! Keep up the good work and give Homer some fresh turkey from Phantom!

  • Véronique Guillemin Colomb Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Hi Gwen
    Thank you for these good news concerning Homer. I understand your stress being far from Homer and the kittens during your trip but Laurence will be there. Like you I'm working at home (but for a boss) so I can be with my two cats girls and two dogs 24 hours a day every day. As you know my older cat girl Obi (14) has a kidney removed one month earlier (it was a cancer) Now she's eating well and play. Hopefully I'm at home to take care of her, of my fur kids. You're a great Mum for Homer and the kitten. I wish you a great success with your new book. I have pre ordered it in November and will receive it only by the end of January, I live in France. I can't wait. Best regards and big hugs to Homer and the kittens

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