Gwen Cooper's Blog

Gwen Cooper

Gwen Cooper
Location
New York, New York, USA
Birthday
October 24
Bio
Gwen Cooper is the author of the novel "Diary of a South Beach Party Girl," which was published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment in April 2007 and received positive reviews in numerous publications including People, Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Gotham, the New York Daily News, the Boston Herald, The State, and the Sacramento Bee. Chauncey Mabe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel hailed it as, “a novel of emotional grit, psychological depth, and narrative confidence. For pop fiction, this is as good as it gets.” Gwen spent five years working in non-profit administration, marketing, and fundraising. She coordinated and led direct-service volunteer activities on behalf of organizations such as Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, Best Buddies, Habitat for Humanity, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and Family Resource Center (an organization providing emergency shelter for abused and neglected children). Gwen moved to New York City in 2001 and is writing her second book: "Homer's Odyssey: Tales of an Eyeless Wondercat," which will be published by Random House in September of '09. She lives on Manhattan’s east side with her husband, Laurence. She also lives with her three perfect cats—Scarlett, Vashti, and Homer—who aren’t impressed with any of it.

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 22, 2008 10:22AM

Mucho Gato

Rate: 139 Flag

Homer, the Eyeless Wondercat 

Author's Note: Last week, I posted a story about Homer, the youngest of my three cats, who I adopted when he was three weeks old.  He'd been abandoned at my vet's office; a severe eye infection had resulted in the surgical removal of both of his eyes, and nobody wanted to give him a home.

Homer is now a three-pound, (hyper) active 12-year-old.  I am currently writing a book about him entitled, Homer's Odyssey: Tales of an Eyeless Wondercat.  The following is a chapter-in-progress from the manuscript. 

Mucho Gato

Ill deeds do not prosper, and the weak confound the strong.           

 --The Odyssey, Homer 

It was an uncomfortably hot night in mid-July, about two months after I had moved into my new apartment, when I awakened, startled, at 4:00 in the morning to a sound I’d never heard before.

 

It sounded like a cat growling, but the only one of my cats I’d ever heard growl was Scarlett.  I knew it wasn’t her, though.  And it couldn’t possibly be Vashti—Vashti who was so polite and unassertive that her meows came out as tiny squeaks; Vashti didn’t have it in her to growl at anyone.

 

That could only leave Homer. 

 

The mere fact of Homer’s growling—Homer who was friendly as a puppy, who was always so happy-go-lucky that I’d never known him to be so much as grumpy—already had me frightened.  I squinted and struggled to see him in the darkness.

 

There was some faint light streaming in through the blinds from the streetlights outside, but Homer was all black and eyeless, rendering him completely invisible.  I could tell, though, that he was close by, somewhere on the bed.  I sat up and reached over to flip on my bedside lamp.

 

The first thing I saw was Homer, standing in the middle of the bed, puffed up to about three times his normal size.  His back was completely arched, and every hair on his body stood straight up, his tail bristled and stiff as a pipe cleaner.  His legs were set wide apart, and although his head was tucked down low, his ears were at full attention.  He moved his head and ears evenly from side to side with the precision of a sonar dish.  His front claws were extended farther than I’d ever seen them, farther than I would have thought physically possible.  His growl continued, low and unbroken—not completely aggressive yet, but a definite warning.

 

Beyond Homer, standing at the foot of my bed, was a man I’d never seen before in my life.

 

In the disoriented way you think when woken out of a sound sleep, my mind rapidly considered and discarded all innocent explanations for this man’s presence.  Visiting friend?  No.  New boyfriend?  No.  Drunken neighbor who’d somehow stumbled into my apartment instead of his own?

 

No, no, and no.

 

I felt every muscle in my body stiffen and tense, my very eyelids snapping open so wide and so fast that the muscles twinged in pain. 

 

All I could think was that the buried nightmare of every woman living alone—the doomsday scenario that had spawned a thousand horror movies—was playing out right here, right now, in my bedroom.  I also realized that, having never truly believed it could ever happen to me, I had done nothing in the way of arming myself against such an encounter.  My eyes plunged wildly around the room, considering what value each object I saw might have as a potential weapon. 

 

The intruder looked as startled as I felt and, for a crazy moment, this struck me as highly ridiculous.  Surely, among the three of us, he must have been the most prepared for whatever was about to happen.  I mean, who had broken into whose apartment?

 

But then I realized he wasn’t looking at me.  He hadn’t taken his eyes off Homer.

 

Like me, he had obviously heard Homer growling but, also like me, been unable to distinguish any visual evidence of Homer’s presence.  Unlike me, however, it was taking him a second to figure out why this cat—who gave every indication he was preparing an attack—had been so completely invisible.  There was something weird going on here, something off about this cat, something wrong with this cat’s face

 

Under more benign circumstances, I would have been either amused or mildly insulted by the look of horror that broke over the burglar’s own face when he realized what it was. 

 

Homer may have been alarmed at how rigid my body had become, or perhaps by the fact that I was awake, yet not speaking to him in my usual reassuring tones.  His growl rose drastically in both volume and pitch. 

 

Some cats growl and bristle as a way of avoiding a fight, slowly backing up while maintaining an intimidating posture in the hopes that their adversary will back down first.  But Homer wasn’t backing up.  With a slow precision that I instantly recognized from all those failed attempts at stalking Scarlett, Homer was inching forward, towards the intruder. 

 

It’s going to sound foolish (keep in mind that, about fifteen seconds earlier, I’d been deeply asleep), but for a split second I was worried for the burglar’s safety.  If anybody had asked me a half-hour ago, I would have told them that Homer would never attack anybody in my presence, that—even if for some impossible-to-imagine reason, Homer took it into his head to depart from his general friendliness toward everybody he met—the sound of my command, “No!” would have stopped him instantly.  Homer was a troublemaker and a daredevil, but he never disobeyed me outright.  I knew this for an absolute, positive fact, the way that I knew my own name.  It was one of the cornerstones of the relationship I had with him, one of the fundamental things, aside from his blindness, that set Homer apart from other cats.

 

In that moment, though, I knew—knew—that if Homer indeed decided to attack this man, I wouldn’t be able to stop him.  The snarling, furious animal on my bed was a cat I’d never seen, didn’t know, had absolutely no control over.  The only question was how clawed up and bloodied the burglar, or I, or both of us, would get in the process of my subduing him.

 

It had been only a matter of seconds since I’d first switched on the lamp, and now my next move seemed so painfully obvious, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t already doing it. 

 

I picked up the phone next to my bed to dial 911.

 

“Don’t do that,” the man said, speaking for the first time.

 

I hesitated for the briefest instant, and then I looked over at Homer. Do what he’s doing, a voice in my head urged.  Act bigger than you really are.

 

“Fuck off,” I said to the man, and I made the call.

 

Then a lot of things seemed to happen at once.  The 911 operator answered and I told her, “There’s somebody in my apartment!”

 

“There’s somebody in your apartment?” she repeated.

 

“Yes, there’s somebody in my apartment!”

 

Homer, meantime, had finally galvanized into action.  He might not have understood relative size, he might not have realized how very much smaller he was than this man standing menacingly over the bed, but if there was one thing Homer did understand it was pinpointing a location based on sound. 

 

The intruder, in speaking, had let Homer know precisely where he was. 

 

With a loud hiss that bared his fangs (prior to this, I’d always thought of them as “teeth”), Homer thrust the whole weight of his body forward and brought his right front leg into the air, stretching it up and out so far that it looked, bizarrely, as if the bone connecting his leg to his shoulder had come out of its socket, held in place only by muscle and tendons.  His claws extended even further (good God—how long were those claws?).  Glinting like scythes in the lamplight, they slashed viciously at the man’s face. 

 

Homer missed only by the merest fraction of an inch—and only because the man had reflexively snapped his head back.

 

“Okay, ma’am, I’m dispatching officers now,” the 911 operator said.  “Stay on the phone…”

 

I never heard the rest of her instructions, however, because at that point the intruder turned and ran.  Homer, his tail still bolt upright, leapt from the bed and raced after him.

 

Oh my God oh my God oh my God, I thought desperately.  Who does he think he is, Old Yeller? 

“HOMER!” I shrieked.  My voice was so unlike anything I’d ever heard coming out of my own mouth, I couldn’t blame Homer for not understanding what I wanted him to do.  “HOMER, NO!” 

I threw down the phone and ran after them. 

Like two competing runners panting toward a finish line, two separate and distinct fears vied for prominence in my head.  The first, naturally, was that Homer might actually catch up to the intruder.  Who knew what that man would do if he saw Homer’s talons coming at him a second time?

 

I was also terrified that Homer might chase the burglar out the front door and into the long, labyrinthine corridors of my apartment complex—and, unable to see his way back home, be lost to me forever.  As this picture played vividly in my imagination, I was shocked to realize how deep-seated it was, how a fear of Homer’s getting lost had always lain in the background of my thoughts, coiled and silent but ready to spring up and bite me at a moment’s notice.

 

Homer had made it out the front door and about six feet into the hallway before I caught up with him.  Looking around—to make sure neither of the other cats had gotten out as much as to confirm that the burglar was gone—I saw the emergency exit door at the far end of the corridor swinging closed.

 

I scooped Homer up in one hand and the staccato pounding of his heart alarmed me, although my own chest cavity felt molten, as if it were full of liquid fire.  Homer resisted mightily, flailing out his front claws at random and catching the skin inside my forearm with his back ones, raising a trail of angry red welts.  It wasn’t until I’d reentered the apartment, slamming the locks shut behind me and throwing Homer roughly to the ground, that he seemed to come back to himself.

 

When I say no I mean no, god dammit!!” I screamed.  “You’re a bad cat, Homer!  A bad, bad cat!    

 

Homer was breathing heavily, his rib cage expanding and shrinking in rapid succession.  I saw him take a deep breath, and he cocked his head slightly to one side.

 

One of the things about Homer that always clutched at my heart was the way it seemed like he really tried to understand me when I talked to him.  Like right now, as he tilted his face up toward the sound of my voice, struggling to make sense of my yelling.  On the one hand, every instinct in his body told him he had just done the exact right thing: There had been a threat, and he had defended his territory and chased the threat off.  What could be wrong about that?

 

But here was Mommy, yelling at him as he’d never been yelled at before, obviously of the opinion that what he’d just done was very, very wrong.  So which of us was right?

 

 Homer didn’t creep towards me apologetically the way he usually did when I yelled at him.  He just sat there on his haunches, his tail curled lightly around his front paws like ancient Egyptian statues I’d seen of the cats who guarded temples. 

Apropos of nothing, I found myself remembering a scene from the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.  A ragged group of peasants had just done battle with Fascist soldiers in a Spanish Civil War skirmish, and had suffered grievous losses.  Among the dead was the loyal horse of an elderly farmer who’d joined in the fight.  Kneeling over the body of the fallen horse, the farmer whispered in his ear, “Eras mucho caballo,” which Hemmingway had translated as: Thou wert plenty of horse. 

It was a line that always stuck with me, because it was a single sentence that had seemed, to me, to contain multitudes.  What the farmer was saying was that this horse had been a horse beyond all other horses, a horse who had fought like a man and died like a hero.  For sheer valor, he was worth an entire herd of horses, so much horse that the body of a single horse had been barely sufficient to contain him.

 

Homer looked even smaller than usual as he sat there, his head still bent to one side as his fur sank quietly back into its normal patterns. 

 

Such a little boy, I thought.  He’s such a tiny boy! 

 

“Oh, Homer,” I said, and my voice was ragged.  I knelt down and rubbed him behind the ears.  He purred softly in response.  “I’m sorry I yelled at you.  I’m so sorry, little guy.”

 

There was a sharp rap at the door, followed by an extremely welcome: “Police!”

 

“I’m okay!” I called back.  “I’m coming.”

 

I picked Homer up again.  Homer loved to cuddle, but he generally hated to be picked up and would squirm and wriggle in a desperate attempt to regain the ground.  Now, though, he rested quietly in my arms.  I buried my face in the fur of his neck.

 

“Eres mucho gato, Homer,” I whispered.  Thou art plenty of cat. 

 

I placed him gently back on his own legs.


 

 

 

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Wow! What a story. What a cat! The fact that he was blind adds a whole other dimension to it. Glad this had a happy ending - did they ever catch the intruder?
He is mucho gato, indeed.
Wonderful story. Great cat. Can't wait for the book.
Amazing! Homer needs a book :)
Loved it. Amazing, totally amazing cat.
Great story! Great cat! I could totally picture the scene, the horror on the intruder's face. Can't wait for the book.
This made my eyes squirt. Teaser and the Firecat are going to hear this tonight as a bedtime story. Whatta kitty boy!
Thank you--so much--for the great responses! Homer and I are kvelling!

(Okay, technically I'm kvelling and Homer's napping--but if he could read, he'd kvell.)

Donna, to answer your question, the intruder was never caught. This happened in Miami and, like in most large urban areas, things like this aren't investigated too vigorously if nobody's been injured. Believe it or not, I had to fight to even get them to file an official police report! Once they did, I went down to the precinct to look through the Big Book of Mug Shots and see if I could find a match, but--nada.

Whaddayagonnado?
Homer's story brought tears to my eyes. I will definitely buy "Homer's Odyssey: Tales of an Eyeless Wondercat" as soon as I can. :-)

I'd love to have heard more description of the intruder. I can't envision him well enough.

(rated)
I have also sent the link to all my animal-loving friends.
Sending Homer a virtual cat treat - the guy deserves it.

Glad it turned out ok for you and Homer, Gwen. Seems like you and Homer were meant to be a team.
Thanks for the follow-up, Gwen. Homer will go down in Cat History, his story being told to kitties everywhere tonight ;)
Thanks Gwen, fabulous tale told beautifully - a real tribute to the little guy....
Wow! What a storyteller you are. You managed to wring as much pathos out of that short piece of literature where many writers would need several pages. Congratulations. A pleasure to read :-)
That was amazing and made me cry.

He knew that the man was bad. He didn't even have to see it. Incredible.

Hey, did they ever catch the guy?
Yow! as well. Incredible story, great writer. Rah rah Homer!

I once knew a dog who had had both eyes removed and I swear, you
couldn't tell, by the way that dog got around, that he was blind.
what an awesome, amazing story! not only is your cat, but so are YOU!
damn that was Brave of you, to keep dialing.
Homer is a true hero. The blind swordsman has nothing on him!
Oh, what a fantastic story. What a fierce kitty he was! And I've no doubt he would have scratched the intruder to shred if he'd caught him. It made me want to go cuddle all my kitties and get that happy purr going.

And did you say--2 POUNDS? Fully grown? Goodness, he is a tiny little thing--my smallest cat is 6 lbs and he feels like a feather when I pick him up.

Do you have an email list for this book? Because I very seriously want to be notified when it's available.

Thanks for much for sharing the story of your brave little hero. :)

(Also rated, also forwarded to all my critter-loving friends)
I know nothing about cats. I'm allergic to cats. I want a cat like Homer. Great piece of writing.
You very likely saved his life by adopting him. Normal strays get put asleep after awhile, much less eyeless ones. There's a poetic irony to the story.
Great story - what a wonderful kitty! That brought tears to my eyes. And I can't believe he weighs only 2 pounds. Definitely too small to contain all that cat!

Would you consider titling this chapter "Eres Mucho Gato"? It's a lovely phrase, and it ties in at the end of the story.

The title of the book is very clever. :)
great story telling! I know the story is about Homer, but I'd like to have known what the burglar looked like...

I eagerly await more...
Wow--I can't tell you how overwhelmed I am by this incredible response. The writer in me thanks all of you, but the "mommy" in me thanks you even more. As I'm sure you can tell, I am very, very proud of my little guy!

:-)

Thanks also for your editorial suggestions. That I should describe the burglar more clearly is a point well taken--the only reason I didn't is because, looking back on it all, I found that I can't really remember what he looked like! But I'll work harder on jogging my memory, because it's certainly an important part of the story.

And, for those who requested updates on the status of the book about Homer, you've got it! In fairness, though, I should say that a proposal for this book has only just been sent out to a few editors/publishers, so it'll probably be at least a year before there's an actual book. But I'll keep sharing stories about Homer in the interim, and I will keep you posted...

THANK YOU AGAIN!!!
Right after we married, I caught a cat--a kitten, really--eating out of our garbage early one morning. Before they had the big dumpsters, it was, and we had set our trash out to the curb in brown grocery bags. The little black kitten had tipped over a bag and was about halfway in, licking on something good in that bag. I sneaked up on her, and simply grabbed her by her back haunches, you know, just to discourage her, sort of send a message. This kitten--she wasn't any more than 8 weeks old I'm sure--immediately twisted around and caught my hand in her claws and teeth, and pretty much mutilated my hand before I could set her down and run away.

Our instincts are funny. That you were hollering at your cat to break off his attack seems a counterproductive reflex to me. With my particular history, I wanted to see some intruder carnage in this story. But the outcome was all for the best, all things considered. Pets can be magnificent under such circumstances.

Baby Kitty was not yet my pet that day. We had only just met. An unforgettable first meeting, by anyone's standards. My wife involuntarily giggled when she saw what Baby Kitty had done to my hand, and they laughed in the Doctor's office, too. But it is no joke--Baby Kitty roughed up my hand. Cats are fierce creatures, I am here to bear witness. After my first meeting with Baby Kitty, I came to respect the weapons of even the smallest kittens.

Your story is stupendous.
I'll echo the compliments of others and tell you--what a wonderfully written, compelling story. I'll also add that I don't personally feel the need to have more description of the intruder. I think because I've lived alone off and on for about a third of my adult life and I am familiar with that fear. "Strange man at the foot of the bed" pretty much covers it for me. I'm really impressed with you as well as Homer. Ultimately, you and Homer did the team work needed to get you out of an extremely threatening situation.

Looking forward to reading the rest!
Many thanks again for the continued outpouring of love for Homer...and much love from me right back to you and your kitties!

I also wanted to add that I've noticed many of your are "friending" me. I had assumed that if somebody added me to their friend list, they would automatically be added to mine as well. But it appears that this is not the case.

I'm new to this, but will figure it out over the course of the day and "friend" you all right back! In the meantime, though, I'm sure I must appear incredibly rude--so please just chalk it up to technical incompetence...

:-)
I was on the edge of my seat! What a cat!
Regarding "Friends" protocol, that's a bit of a misnomer. We're ALL friends around here, right? (OK, not completely, but y'all get the point.) What it means is that you want to keep up with that person's posts. With so many people on OS it can be easy to lose people you want to keep up with, hence the "Friends" list. Unfortunately, you can only see the Recent Posts of 4 friends on your page, a limit many of us complain about regularly.

So "Friend" those people whose posts you want to be sure not to miss (and complain with us to the powers that be about the 4-friend limit) and don't worry about making it reciprocal. I certainly won't be offended and I think most others here have strong enough egos ;)
Wonderful story. Animals amaze me more and more the older I get. I heart Homer.

(rated)
Amazing! Makes me want to rush home to my small feline herd and annoy them by cooing over them endlessly. You and Homer were clearly meant to be! :)
This story is such vindication for all those animals out there that aren't of physical perfection! Our cat Michael (that was dropped off in a card board box with his tiny little siblings cold, wet and covered in manure), our dog Georgie (that had no toes and would have been sent to the glue factory by his breeder owners) and our cat Gray (the wild cat that found us that has traumatic stress syndrome) have never saved my life, but what would I do without them? I can't wait to give them some extra love when I get home.
This is one WAY cool cat. I'd like to see more pictures of him.

Also, I agree with others who said they'd like to know what the burglar looked like. But I wouldn't want it woven into those tense immediate moments because the lack of details emphasized how quickly all this happened and how Homer was/is the focus of your story. I think if you can recall just one detail about the man--height, hair, build, something he was wearing and put that in, it makes the man less generic. Then later, when you tell us the guy was never caught, that you went and looked at mug shots, you can reflect on how little you remembered of him.

Such a great read!
My husband laughed out loud when he read this, from the visual of this teeny, tiny, blind, fierce cat attacking an intruder and scaring him away. We have a teeny tiny kitty, she's about 3 now but her proportions are so small that she will always look like a kitten, and he could completely see her reacting this way. We know the growl/yowl, too--ours (Little Mouse) made that when we brought the border collie puppy home. She sounded like a mountain lion. Amazing how brave the littlest animals can be.
I suggest that you buy Homer his very own can of salmon ot sardines.

Good cat you.
This is such an amazing story! And such an amazing little cat! You go Homer!
In this age of "disposable pets," what a pleasure it is to read about someone who really treasures a special needs animal. This is a great story, and I can't wait to read the book! I am an avid cat lover, and my cat Babs came from the local no-kill animal shelter that I volunteer at. Keep up the great writing!
Thank God for your cat -- I kept a metal baseball bat under my bed just in case when I lived alone. I think the cat probably did a better job! Good on ya, Homer!
Get to working on that book. I can't wait to read it.
Gwen - Your Homer is the male equivalent of my female Siamese pound-saved cat Tauntaun. She was fierce too!
Someday I will write about a few of the ways Tauntaun was so special. But for now, I can only say, Homer deserves a Hero award, and you deserve one also for taking him home with you.
To those who want to know what the prowler looked like, imagine what he looked like to the sightless Homer. Just a menace, no form, just a sound and a scent that shouldn't have been there. And your story, Gwen, had me on the edge of my seat and crying at the same time. And this from one tough old cookie who doesn't do that. Thanks for sharing. I intend to send a link to this piece to all my cat-buddies.
Great story.

He is plenty of cat indeed!
I always take such joy in your tales of Hunter.
Eres mucho writer, gwen...love it!
The most unusual, most compassionate, most engaging story of a gifted animal I have ever read. As they say in Chicago, "Thumbs Up, Way UP!"
BTW, I'm thrilled to be the cusp thumbs up before the inevitable "70"
Can't wait to read the book!
So glad it turned out well for both of you.
I would love to see Homer with his own blog on catster.com
A great site for cat lovers and Homer would become a celebrity for
sure.
What a little legend.
Homer is definately a hero and deserves much love in his life.
He obviously adores you and will do all to protect you.
He does not need the gift of sight to observe the bad people in the world.
I hope my cats would do the same thing for me if the moment arose.
Give Homer a big hug and kiss for me.
Great story, I think I will give my cat Mr. Cleo a hug.
What a terrific story. I will now have to look back through your previous posts for additional kitty adventures. (I am new to this site)
I'll be telling Homer's tale to George (pictured) during our morning "you must stop every thing else you are doing and pay attention to me!" session.
What a true hero your little guy is..and how perfectly the circle has worked...you as his savior and protector and he as yours.
Cool, cool kitty! I think this is may be an example of karma boomerang :)
Wow. I guess at first that guy thought the growl came from a dog, but when you turned on the light, momentarily his eyes had to adjust and then he thought it might be okay since "it was only a cat." Then he realized that Homer wasn't just any old, lazy cat--he was THE Attack Cat! Way to go Homer!!! Save your Mommy!!!

You write a great story packed with details and suspense, Gwen, and I eagerly await the next installments, and your book about Homer's adventures. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I read this! I admire your writing skills and also your working with rescue organizations. My husband and I have rescued eight kitties that we've loved dearly during recent years.

I wish you huge success with your writing, and I too hope there will be an email list for those of us who want to know when your book is available. Hugs for you and your kitties!
Homer is a beautiful cat. Can't wait for the book!
Not a cutesy, come here and let me pet you while you purr cat guy, but I'm a "that kinda cat guy"...what a wonderful story of love and protection against the predators of life, I was riveted. Looking forward to the book.
Hail Homer! You have the Seig!

Gwen, your cat has given you two precious gifts. He protected your life against an intruder who weighed dozens of times what he did. And he taught you everything you need to know about fighting back against predators.

Here's hoping that if the same sort of thing every happens again (God forbid) you will stomp a mudhole in the sumbich
This story was forwarded to me by a coworker; otherwise I'd never have seen it. I joined the salon to tell you how much this story meant to me. Last month my beloved companion of 18 years, His Royal Fluffiness the Sanity Cat passed away. Coming home to an empty house every day became progressively more difficult. So two weeks ago, I adopted two cats who has been fostered together about two hours away. Picasso is a strikingly beautiful snowy white cat with two black spots and a fluffy black tail. His enormous paws are perfect for giving massages, which he bestows upon me with great regularity. And then there's little Bennie-Love. This one is both a lover and a fighter. He is the most trusting, adoring, cuddly purr-machine I've ever met, but he simply cannot resist the temptation to stalk, pounce on, and wrestle with poor unsuspecting Picasso at all hours of the day and night. And like Homer, Bennie-Love has no eyes. I thought I was adopting a special needs kitty, but the only special need he has is to be protected from the outdoors. Aside from that, he is incredibly independent and fearless. with a ninja-like ability to locate his furry victim anywhere in the house. Perhaps he is just in training to be a hero like Homer.

I was truly captivated by your story, not just because of the obvious skill with which it was written, but because it deals with an issue very close to my heart. Like everyone else here, I eagerly anticipate the release of your Tales of an Eyeless Wondercat. It is certain to become Bennie-Love's favorite bedtime story.
What a wonderful and poignant story!

One editorial comment, however: Hemingway has only one "m" instead of two.
What a wonderful kitty! My roommate sent your post to me as we've bonded over the emotional quirks of my hides-from-all-new-people shelter kitty, Ozzie.

Homer is a true hero with the heart of a lion. I can't wait for your book!
I suppose you probably already have a publisher lined up for your book about Homer? (Asked by someone who works for a publishing firm interested in animal stories.) Janet@Triviaqueen.com
Dear Gwen and Homer,

I'm so glad both of you survived unscathed the illegal trespass into your home. The cat gods must be smiling for two reasons: 1. Your unselfish love for Homer who would surely have perished long ago. 2. By empowering Homer with all the ferocity of a sabre tooth when he needed to defend your home, he became fully capable of inflicting severe injury or even death on a pathetic creature who has undoubtedly been mean to cats in the past. Homer may weigh only 2 lbs. but thankfully he comes armed with at least 14 knives and a take no prisoners attitude. I just hope your story doesn't motivate the bleeding heart liberal brigade to raise a demand for cat disarmament (onychectomy).

I was reminded of two websites: www.corneredcat.com and a Native American folk-tale from "The Lost History of the Canine Race" by Mary Elizabeth Thurston, Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City, 1996, as displayed on www.terriertribe.com/ttribe.php.

“The earth trembled and a great rift appeared, separating the first man and woman from the rest of the animal kingdom. As the chasm grew deeper and wider, all the other creatures, afraid for their lives, returned to the forest — except for the dog, who after much consideration leapt the perilous rift to stay with the humans on the other side. His love for humanity was greater than his bond to other creatures, he explained, and he willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it.”

For cats I don't think it was a one-time decision. I think they reconsider on a regular basis. It's probably what they dream about while relaxing on a sunny window ledge. Fortunately for us humans they are very charitable and keep giving us another chance to realise who the superior species really is.
What an amazing cat! I love my cats, and used to have a black cat who was very loyal to me, altho not quite as amazing as that.

Please let me know when your book is published - I want to buy it.
Homer, you're my hero! Wonderfully well-written, and, I'm glad you weren't hurt. Blessings! RH
Where the HELL were Scarlett& Vashti??? God Bless you first of all for adopting such a special little man... I have 14 ( I know, I know....) and just lost my first (at 20 years) a few mos. ago. My 18 year old is now deaf and blind and it is SO HARD watching them age. I worked at a shelter 20 years ago ( thats where Talon,20 and Luther 18) came from. The others were strays and ferals that just worked their way into heart and home. People always say they want a pet that will protect them.. I like to think that any animal you love and loves you would do the same.... Ah hem Scarlett & Vashti!!!
One more waiting for the book, needless to say. God has well blessed you both. Hugs, Lorraine
Gwen I'm allergic to cats...really can't stand them to be honest, cats and small dogs for that matter but I'm buying what Homer is selling. I'm not a Shirley McLaine fan either but Homer makes me wonder about reincarnation. He reminds me of a kid I used to run the streets of Brooklyn with. Thanks for the story.
Like someone else in these comments, I joined salon just to tell you how much I enjoyed your story. Beautiful. More pictures, please!!! And not only will I buy the book, but I'll buy it for friends. Keep up the good work.
Hi,
This truly is a great piece of writing. The vivid details and emotions portrayed are simply splendid.
I myself have come from a rather less developed part of the world and sometimes struggle to understand the complex emotions and feelings that the western society harbors for domestic animals. The amount of affection showered upon pets sometimes surpasses that expressed towards humans. While reading this post I saw a small frame appear in the window that carried Gandhi's message: "the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals."
I find this saying a little hard to digest especially because there are still parts of this world where people struggle to make enough to feed their families. It is sad that now humans in many regions of this world have to compete for resources with their feline and canine counterparts.
That honestly brought tears to my eyes. That your beautiful, brave cat would protect you like that. You have been blessed.
Hi Gwen, thank you kindly for your comment. I will! And I'm happy this article is getting such great readership. I know I've forwarded the link to several of my friends. You write beautifully! Blessings,
RH
I am so glad your cat was there to defend you.

Being a woman alone (as I was way back when), I would suggest you invest in a weapon, a concealed carry permit, and weapons training.
GATISIMO BRAVISIMO!!!
You have a heart of gold...Who knows that better than Homer! Yeah, he is quite a cat, and you are quite a human! Thank you so much for the wonderful story...looking forward to the book!
Momcat
A gripping story, well-told.
Where's Rob Mitchum and Shelley Winters? Charles naughton's only major film
What a great, great story, Gwen. Brought tears to my eyes too, and again even after the second reading. The quote from The Odyssey at first puzzled me, like a sentence from I Ching can do, and then the meaning revealed, a perfect description of your Homer. I'll be looking for the book as well.

I agree with Susan Mitchell's comment re the man's description. Also, the lack of definition there adds something, ties me in to Homer's experience more, not being able to see but only sense the presence.

I love this story, and your writing is wonderful.
wow. so glad they posted this one where we newbies could find it
What's a bigger word than amazing? That's a stunning story of your little hero.

Thanks to another cat lover and rescuer. Cats are ounce for ounce unbelievable fierce.
...unbelievably... typo correction.
Wow! You are a great storyteller and told a fantastic story! Homer has definitely earned his keep, es muy bueno gato! Glad that you had a good ending to the story!
This was a perfect read. Homer is a testament to animal heroics and their fierce loyalty. I fell in love with him as soon as I knew he had no eyes. Great writing, great story. Rated.
Wow! So glad they recycled this story. Cats are so cool. As far as I'm concerned, You got the pick of the litter!
Ok that cat may not have eyes but he's got my tongue! I'm speechless! Fantastic story! My jaw was dropped from the moment the light flicked on! Great job! I'll buy that book too.
Loved this story: the writing and your courageous cat.
The courage-and wisdom-of our pets. Homer's odyssey and your love-what a combo!
What a great cat -- with an owner to match. Great writing, too. I must go and read this to the useless-but-cute furry felines hiding in my room.
I have no idea how I missed this the first go 'round but I'm happy to have read it today. That is a mighty fine cat that you have there. This story is amazing in every way. Has Hollywood called you yet?
Sounds like the perfect story of love given, love returned. You took him in and gave him a loving home despite his lack of eyes and in return he's given some of that love back by defending you. :)
Great story. Wonderful cat. it made me cry. Can't wait for the book.
I'm a little late to this party I realize - I read this over a week ago, but was too emotional to post earlier.

This story brought back memories of my own cat, Allegro. My husband and I were on our way out the door to see a movie when he tripped over the cat - unusual, since he's an attentive cat who doesn't normally stand in the way. "Out of the way, cat," he said. "What's wrong with you?" The cat did not get out of the way. Instead he moved to block my husband from going past him. "What's he got, is that a turd?" I asked. (The front hallway is dark.) Someone turned the light on. It was not a turd. It was a coiled up snake. Husband reached to pick up the cat and he bounced, sideways, in a little circle, keeping his nose towards the snake. It wasn't until I had trapped the snake under a Mason jar that he relaxed. Snake turned out to be a baby copperhead (identifiable by the yellow tail.) He had apparently gotten into the house because the seal at the bottom of the front door had come loose. We released him near the Wolf river - happy ending for everyone.

We lost Allegro to cancer this past September. I'm not sure how old he was; we adopted him when our neighbor moved to a place that didn't allow pets. We had him ten years.

So, anyway, I read the tale of your little hero with tears streaming down my face, and here they come again. Thank you. Your story deserves all the praise it's gotten.
Amazing in every sense of the word.
Sir Homer, we hereby award thee the Royal Honor of the Whole Poached Salmon.

I've always known that Hudson (a 22 lb. male Abyssinian) was not much for strangers. The big surprise two years ago was learning what happens when the stranger is a mover who's dropped one's grand piano off a truck and then aggressively, abusively lied about it. The smell of an overweight terrified prevaricator is apparently not pleasing in the nostrils of the Cat God. Hudson's normal aversion became something mythic, bigger than Wagner and twice as loud. I'd always thought his ability to stretch up and put his front paws nearly on my chest was charming. It had never occurred to me he might be able to knock a grown man off his feet.

You haven't lived until you've seen a pathological liar with the blood of a Steinway on his hands cowering on the floor screaming "Get that cat away from me! Get it away!"

And been able to reply, "You know, they _sense_ dishonesty," as the kitty went on howling like an over muscled fanged FX banshee.
'*****'

Inspiring - Waiting for the book.
I don't know how I missed this. This, for some reason, is one of the most moving things I have ever read. Ever. Your blind cat was willing to defend you to the death. It makes me want to cry.
This was excellent.
Amazing story!

I'm glad you had Homer to rescue you.
This appeared right around the time that I joined OS and was one of the very first posts I read (being on a Most Read list). I remembered it vividly and reading it again, nearly a year later, it's still one of the best pieces I've ever read here. It brought tears to my eyes reading it again. Fabulous writing; amazing cat!
This is a great story. I'm so glad that Homer didn't manage to get outside. I understand and share your fear of your little kitty getting lost outside. My cat Gremlin (my profile picture) was born without eyes and would have died if I had not found her. She is now five years old and about 5-6 pounds, the big difference between her and Homer is that she is very much a one person cat but she loves to "stare" at people. Your Homer is very brave and he proves the saying true that big things come in small packages. Good luck with your writing.
Heard you on NPR a few days ago.
What a cute (and brave!) little guy.
wild stuff man. has anyone optioned the movies rights? man this thing has serious buzz. I can easily imagine a childrens book made out of it. or a cartoon. adventures of Homer the eyeless cat....
congratulations on viral nirvana :)
Great writing of a great story! Good luck with the book--it's going to be amazing!! I have an eyeless cat myself, 4 year old Winkie. She was being used as a breeding cat when I rescued her, living in a 2ft x 2ft cage, and had no concept of toys or playing. She is now a healthy, gregarious, talkative cat who loves to climb vertically and play fetch :)
I just found this piece through a link that Rob St. Amant left in a comment on my site about "Publishing & OS". He used this as an example. WOW! I hung on every word. You are such a good writer!!
What a great looking cat!
vaya gato màs guapo....que es de angora.....?
First, Homer is my new hero. What a cat. Que ganas!

Second, Gwen, you are an amazing writer. Can't wait to see this published and in bookstores.
Wow!! I'm in tears. What a horrifying story! Homer is a true hero. I am so happy he didn't get hurt by the intruder. In a way it's a good thing he missed! His reaction bought you the time to call for help, and empowered you to ignore the intruder's threat. So amazing. How did that creep get into your apartment??
`
I wish I'd be able to spend more time Here?
But we get Gone Gonna Go More Kookier?
I come back and try to catch up. O, Homer.
`
Holy Zeus
Lovely Aphrodite
See in Seared Nighty?
No
Burn
Nighty
Undies
`
Sheared?
See Through?
See Human Body.
Be careful. Behave.
I nickname my cat?
I'll rename ` Homer.
He's Now ` Cyclops.
`
`
I meant to mention our birthday.
You have a October 24 Born Day.
I was dropped Here on the 22nd.
`
We both got Nice Birthday Suits.
Bodies are Fancy in Different Sizes.
I have to Wash my Birthday Suit.