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.  ;-)


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




  • Alyson svenson Saturday, 12 January 2013


    Love the updates
    I cannot imagine many people that care so much for their cats, no need to defend your actions and people should not judge.
    can't wait to read the new book and best wishes for the promotion tours

  • Linda Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Thanks for the update

    It's great to hear that Homer is doing so well - and Laurence in one in a million for those daily turkey jaunts. I know if there were any way for you to do your work, including these rare trips away from home, without leaving Homer you would - and there's no doubt you and Laurence will ensure the best possible care for Homer and his siblings when you do have to travel. My copy has been on pre-order for months and can't wait til it arrives. And I hope you'll be in the Chicago area on your tour. You're doing, and have done, so much for the cause of shelter animals, and especially those with out of the ordinary challenges. May the months ahead hold much happiness, and health, for all of your family - and I hope the book is the best-seller it deserves to be.

  • Rebecca Asberry Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Gwen, u are the best cat mom in the world! I am so glad that Homer is feeling better..I envy you for all the time you do get to spend with your wonderful furbabies! We are all so excited for you new book! Can't wait to read it. especially after reading the little tease we got last week! We are behind you 100% and thanks so much for all the HOMER updates...He is the reason we all got to know you and your wonderful family..Take Care......Becky, KoKo, and Bea, and our new outside friend who still wont let me touch him but has taken up my back deck - we call him BOO BOO!!!

  • Kiwi the Shelter Kitty! Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Love Saves da Homer!

    Kiwi is racing round foldeh-eared, charging up her kitteh tower, and committing scamper-by swattings of ACHILLES DA HUN—dat tripod Tuxedo menace—to see Homer seize da gleeful destiny dat has always been his.

    Der's not much difference from da sauceh Homer of today, hopping his kitteh tower to show da sisal rope post what fer, and da tiny, devil-may-care kitten whom we met in 'Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat.'

    Who else, but our intrepid Homeric hero, would best understand da urgent imperative to go forth and conquer new worlds—or at da least, new VISA Cards. PILE UP DAT GREEN! Homey needs a new bale of 'nip!

  • Karen Davenport Saiers Saturday, 12 January 2013

    What a great cat mama you are. My sister and I are so looking forward to meeting you, if you are near Charlotte, NC. And we're willing to drive pretty darn far, if necesary!! And we'll have books in hand! Head bonks to Homer, Fanny and Clayton.

  • Kate Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Wonderful news!

    So glad that Homer is doing so well. I know what a relief that must be for all. As to the people who grouse that you shouldn't tour, there will always be those people who have to find fault somewhere, regardless of how ridiculous it may be. Homer knows you love him and, really, he's the one who counts.

  • Janiss Saturday, 12 January 2013

    I totally relate!

    I am in the same situation as you (work/write at home, high medical insurance premiums)... well, except for the best-selling part (at least that hasn't happened yet!), so I know how it goes. I have had to cancel attending a couple of conferences because of a health issue Sparkle was going through, but with something like a book tour, you don't have that kind of leeway. So thank you for this post. I think in the long run, our kitties have it better than people who have to go to a job every day because it is easier to monitor what is going on with them. So instead of feeling defensive, maybe we should be feeling lucky - for both our cats and ourselves!

  • Jackie Bessette Saturday, 12 January 2013

    thanks for the update

    I totally appreciate your being realistic, Gwen. Who knows what will be going on in a few months. I'm glad you and Homer have had each other for this time. He is such a special guy and you are a good Mom, a good provider and a good writer. Looking forward to the new book.

  • Diane Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Yay for Homer's improvement!

    Thanks Gwen for keeping us posted! I'm so happy to hear Homer is doing so much better! Please don't feel defensive when people criticize, for many years I had to work and leave sick pets or even sick kids (too sick to go to school, not sick enough for me to take time off work) and I know the incredible guilt that one can dump on oneself. Homer and the kitties have the absolute BEST family they could have!! I'm sure they all are purrfectly content and happy to spend whatever time with you that is feasible, and they don't hold grudges if you have to work to pay for the kitty litter, food, vet care, and of course deli turkey!!

  • Pat Roller Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Great to hear about Homer and his Mom

    I finally got to your blog and am heartened by all of it. Both you and Homer are so fortunate to have found each other and to have learned so much from each other. By the time you are ready to travel, Homer will probably readjust to Laurence and remember from whence comes his deli turkey every day. Since you share so much of yourself in your books and here, I feel like I know you and you are one very special and awesome lady whom I would love to meet someday. I have 3 cats now who are the loves of my life and fortunately pretty healthy except for Dante who has feline herpes. Most days he is great. I have lost several of my cats over the years...they are all hard. I do believe that God has a plan for us AND our cats and in His wisdom know what is the right thing for each situation. Know that as you continue your awesome work. I have ordered your new book and am so looking forward to reading it. Thanks for all you do.

  • April Crawford Saturday, 12 January 2013

    I love both You and Homer.

    I feel really bad you are feeling defensive.I have absolute confidence that you will do the right thing for Homer.You deserve a life outside the home and I am sure Homer will understand.Maybe as time goes on Homer will forget the awful experience at the Vet and start trusting Laurence again.Take care and give Homer a kiss for me.

  • Richard Saturday, 12 January 2013

    I certainly understand

    Having at one time three cats in my life time over the years I certainly understand some of what you are going through and have gone through some of the same things with cancer etc. with my cats.
    No matter where you are though be it at home or somewhere else you still can't control what happens completely with your cats even while in the same room. So don't worry about what others think Gwen you and Laurence are doing what you can. After all you need to make a living and with books I understand how it is. I don't write myself but my cousin writes religious books and has a Facebook page and he is constantly writing along with his other job he has. Most of the time I usually get his voice mail and he calls us back.

  • Evelyn Saturday, 12 January 2013

    Fantastic blog, my beloved companion she is a black cat I call my daughter and she means the world to me. Ive learned something new tonight :) blessing and a Happy New Year

  • Tina Stevens Sunday, 13 January 2013


    Thanks for the update Gwen, I just had a little cry, knowing that Homer is doing soooo well & it makes my heart smile to know that Laurence gets him his fresh deli turkey every day & that Homer really does LOOOVE Laurence for doing this & shows his love by gobbling it all up.
    You & Laurence certainly must be doing everything right for Homer to be doing so well.
    Thanks again for your updates. P.S: I wish you every success with your new book & I look forward to reading,
    BIIIIIG HUUUUUUG for Homer & BIG HUGS for you, Laurence, Fanny & Clayton all the way from down under - Australia.

  • Keshet Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Book Tour

    Any chance you will be visiting the Petsmart where Clayton and Fanny lived briefly before moving in with you guys? I don't know the logistics of that in terms of Petsmart but I'm sure that all the volunteers would love to come see you for a book signing.
    So glad Homer is doing so much better.

  • Caitlin Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Happy Homer is doing well

    Hi Gwen!

    So happy to read that Homer is doing well. I am sorry that people were being critical of your decisions and what you need to do for your job. I know when my beloved Ginny was diagnosed with CRF, it was so hard to go to work every day and I lived in fear for awhile that I would come home to a sad result. Eventually, I had to tell myself that spending so much time worrying about her dying was not allowing me to enjoy her living. So I turned it around and made it a much better situation for both of us. You don't know what is coming down the road and the best thing is to live life and enjoy every day. It is so wonderful that you are able to spend so much time with him. Homer is lucky to have you and Laurence.

  • Anne Sandstrom Sunday, 13 January 2013

    You're the best catmom, Gwen!

    No need to feel guilty or defensive about living your life. It's what Homer wants you to do. He'll decide for himself what he wants too. I just know that's his way. Oh, and I can't wait to start reading your new book. I (finally!) pre-ordered it. My cats and I will be waiting by the mailbox... All the best to you!

  • Wendy Bloomenrader Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Seriously Homer??!!

    Boy Homer Bear...Have you no shame? You're playing your mom and dad like fiddles!! Fresh-sliced deli turkey, not day-old??!! This only proves that you are acting like a healthy, finicky feline, watching your humans wait on you hand and paw!! Love you!

  • Marg Sunday, 13 January 2013


    WE so know that Homer is in excellent hands and are sure Gwen that you will always put him first in your life. It is so hard when one of the fur animals gets sick. It does sound like Homer is getting a little better and that is such good news. WE are so excited about that. And we can't wait to read the new book. Take care and a gentle hug to Homer.

  • Tom Ryan Sunday, 13 January 2013

    So Happy

    Gwen it is great reading your update! Those of us with elderly cats have been with you all through this and warms me to know this amazing guy is doing so much better. I hope you are in the Philly area and that I get a chance to meet you. With love from Tom, Loki and Blaze!

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