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

  • Kiwi the Shelter Kitty! Sunday, 13 January 2013

    You gots to do what you gots to do

    Kiwi has observed plenty of thoughtful discussion about balancing da needs of foolish hoomin enterprise and da fearless feline family—but in truth, unless you were following da comment thread at da moment dey were coming in, nervous or skeptical commentary was mighty sparse amongst da comments to Facebook post, swamped altogether among da avalanche of gleeful good wishes.

    Kiwi prefers to be generous, and suggest dat da uneasy commenters were contemplating da entire challenge of accommodating house kittehs and career dictates everywhere, which merely revisited dem when dey heard da tour plans.

    As to da kittehs, we are dyed-in-da-wool predators, and every disappointed visitor to zoo lions or a wildlife park can attest dat da primary pasttime of da feline is sleep, sleep, and more sleep. Our wild ancestors extracted precious food energy from der ecosystem by literally hair-raising hunting expeditions, punctuated by terrifying defensive patrols on da perimeters of der territory. Oft as not, dey came back with (hopefully minor) wounds and medical challenges. Sleep was da prescription for everyting.

    Homer's agenda during Gwen's tour, therefore, consists of sleep—typically 16 hours a day or more. By da time he wonders where she's gone, she will already be back.

  • Andrea Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Aguanta Homer!

    I hope all of you are doing well. And I hope i can save enough money to buy Love Saves The Day soon. I really like the way you write, Ms. Cooper. Every word's very heartfelt. Un saludo desde Houston, TX

  • Rumpy Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Go get 'em!

    I trust that you know what's best for all.... after all, it IS your life. You are indeed a champion for animals!

  • Steve Sunday, 13 January 2013

    I always think of Homer

    Gwen, I so wish you the best on your tour. It is necessary, and feels almost painful to leave little Homer. But it must be done. I am so glad that Homer is doing well! Please keep us all informed on his progress and yours too. I check your site daily to see if there have been any updates on Homer, and am glad to read this latest one. Hang in there Homer, you are loved the world over

  • Kathy Kimber Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Hi, Gwen

    I'm so happy that Homer is making a great recovery! (The liver has amazing regenerative powers if you can just baby it along long enough for it to do its thing.) I'm also eagerly awaiting the book. (Yay! Another book from Gwen. And, BTW, and more Handicats adventures coming along the way? ;-)

    I don't begrudge you your trips away from home because, otherwise, I would never have gotten to me you and Laurence on a frightfully stormy night in Santa Rosa. I'm hoping I get to see you when your tour brings you back to California.

    Blessings and healing vibes to all of you.

  • Vicky Sprinnger Monday, 14 January 2013

    Homer

    Thank you Gwen
    for the Homer updates. I am sooo glad to hear that he is doing much better. I wish you much success on your book tour. Thank you for sharing your life and your cat adventures with us. I can hardly wait to begin reading "Love Saves the Day". PS. I will be asking my husband for your book this year instead of a box of chocolate candy on Valentines Day..Now when I would rather read your book than eat chocolate, that is saying a wholeeee lot lol. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Cheryl McCready Monday, 14 January 2013

    Homer

    Gwen I believe that you do an awesome job as Homer's guardian! Cats are very difficult to dignose when they are ill, usually by the time you do notice that they are ill they are very very ill. One thing I would love to see you work on is a "photo" book of Homer, from the time you got him til now into the next few years, with little antedotes on him. I've written you before about my Binky, she too was elderly and she scared me many times between 18-22 years of age. She had quit eating and drinking on different occasions, the vet said her time was probably ending soon. I never gave up I force fed her syringes of baby food and water to keep her alive, and many times she bounced back. Elderly cats are alot like elderly people, they will scare you over and over but many times their resilentcy amazes you. Keep doing what you do and keep us up to date! Love ya ♥

  • Jackie Pasquini Monday, 14 January 2013

    Homer:)

    So happy to hear Home is doing better and you are so lucky to be able to work from home and be more "hands" on when it comes to your furkids..especially Homer:) I have 4 cats, one of which is a sweet orange and white boy named Clark Kent..we just call him Clark:) He has Chronic Kidney disease and some other illnesses so when his got so sick I was so nervous to leave him home by himself his sister kitties couldn't be of much help)..I did have a friend come and sit with him and over the weekend I barely left the house..he is getting better and I can be in work without totally freaking out! You are an amazing Mom to Homer and I loved your first book!

  • Doris Monday, 14 January 2013

    Thanks for the update!

    Glad to know Homer is doing so much better! He's touched so many lives, as have you, Laurence, and all the furry sibs! It's through your writing that this is possible, so thank you! I'm looking forward to reading your new book, and I hope you come close enough to central Iowa that I can come see you. I bet Homer & Laurence will improve their relationship as time goes on and Homer remembers he can trust Laurence. The turkey definitely helps, I'm sure! ;-)

  • Kumo Monday, 14 January 2013

    LOVE SAVES THE DAY saves the day!

    Dear Gwen and Family,
    Wishing you all a successful launch of your new book. It arrived here TODAY,one day early. Hurrah! Tomorrow a snow storm is predicted. A good cat book to keep one warm; mmmmm!
    Prudence touches the heart; water in the eyes. She will make alot of folks take a second look at shelter kitties.
    Scarlet, you did a gooood job! Wear your wings proudly.
    Good health to Homer and all the Cooper-Lehrmans on two, three or four legs.
    Warm wishes,
    Kumo

  • Charity Neal And Trooper Binx Monday, 14 January 2013

    Gwen, You do have a right to be defensive, I read many post by different ppl that said Negative things about your parenting. In Their defense is that your book of Homers story touched so many lives and he is now a part of all our familys as he is yours.Your just lucky to see him Most every Day! You gave everyone that read his story a super hero Cat! People just need to step back and know that your human and have bills to pay too! and this is what You do for a living. And What people dont know is that if Homer turned up ill again, ( hopefully not for a Long long time) you would most def postpone your visits til a later day. Again you have to make a living and Juggle being Homers mom and nurse, Your Awesome Gwen Cooper! Please Keep me and Trooper informed On Homers Health! Love you HOMER!!

  • Colleen Monday, 14 January 2013

    An inspiration...

    After reading your book about Homer, you inspired me to adopt the tiny 1.4 pound, 10 week old, blind kitten I agreed to foster. Milton has been with us 3 years now and we couldn't be happier!

    We all have a job to do (besides being caretakers to our furry babies!)... yours happens to take you away from home once in awhile. So be it. Homer has been blessed to have you, as I'm sure you feel blessed to have him. Fantastic to hear his health is improving & can't wait for the new book!

  • Andrea Monday, 14 January 2013

    balance is key

    You hit the nail on the head. It is so hard to leave your kitties when they need you, but most of us do have to leave at some time or another. I think all caring, compassionate pet owners do the very best they can, and that's all anyone can ask.

    I hope you'll be swinging through North Carolina on your tour. I missed you when you came to Blind Cat Rescue, and would love another chance to see you!

  • Betty R. Monday, 14 January 2013

    Mavel Tov!!

    Gwen, I cannot wait to get my book. Amazon said it shipped today and I hope to be reading it by the end of the week. I hope the book does well for you and your family. I know it will be hard for you to leave Homer for a bit and I know and hope he will be fine as long as Lawrence brings him fresh turkey!! You are one amazing pet parent. I hope that Philadelphia is one of the cities you can visit on your tour and if it is I hope I will be able to get to meet you!! Again, Mazel Tov on the book to you and your family.

    Betty

  • Becky Monday, 14 January 2013

    Homer

    Best wishes to you and Mom sweetie. Glad you're doing well.

  • Ace Tuesday, 15 January 2013

    Perhaps Laurence should

    Wear one of Gwen's sweaters when he tries to feed or get near Homer.

    Anyway, Ace, BBBT and Sweet Cee Cee are very happy that Homer is doing so well!!!

  • Janette Kavanaugh Tuesday, 15 January 2013

    Homer and You

    Gwen, I know that you will constantly be thinking about Homer and his welfare while you are on tour. You are that kind of kitty mom. I'm sorry Homer doesn't let Lawrence near him or pet him because that would help ease your absence. Perhaps he will relent while you are gone because he will need to be close to someone. Keeping my fingers crossed. I'm so looking forward to reading your new book and think your idea of visiting shelters for your tour is wonderful. . . think of how much publicity it will generate and hopefully people will be made more aware of the many needs these people have. Keeping my fingers crossed that I might win that visit.

  • Edie Saturday, 19 January 2013

    Homer

    So glad Homer-bear is doing better. You are a great Mom. We all have to go to work and leave our furkids and the human kind too for others to watch so what's the difference? Thanks for sharing Homer-Bear and the rest of the kids with us.

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