Friday, September 18, 2009

Interview with super star cat Homer, owner of Gwen Cooper

Oh boy... my guest today is a super star cat who has been featured in The NY Times, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor and a zillion other publications... (God, I'm jealous!)... Let's give a warm welcome to Homer, star of Homer's Odyssey, written by his human, Gwen Cooper!

Homer's story will fill you with a little sadness but also with hope and laughter... what a cat! And, believe me, I don't say this lightly (you know me and cats). For one, Homer is blind--yes,
blind--but at the same time he's one of the most brave, adventurous and heroic cats you'll ever meet.

You have to take a look at his book--and it's not just for cat lovers, by the way.

I'm telling you, Homer, my human mom wasn't able to put your story, Homer's Odyssey, down. She even got tear-eyed at times. Tell us a little about your kitty babyhood and how Gwen came to adopt you.

First, thanks so much for interviewing me! Everybody always wants to interview my mom. Even being interviewed by a dog is better than nothing. (Oops! No offense! I used to live with a couple of dogs, and they were actually pretty cool!)

I’m so glad your mom liked the book, by the way. Sometimes my mom’s eyes also got teary while she was writing it!

The way I came to live with my human mom is that my “real” cat mom abandoned me when I was only two weeks old. I was very hungry and scared, and I had a bad eye infection so I couldn’t see anything. Some humans found me and brought me to a veterinarian my mom knew. When they heard I would be blind forever, they thought I should be put to sleep because they said I wouldn’t have a good life. Even though everybody said I was a “hopeless” case, the vet disagreed. She tried very hard to find somebody who would adopt me, but nobody wanted a blind kitten. Then the vet called Gwen, my mom.

She was going through a pretty rough time—she had this very low-paying job doing charity work, plus she already had two cats—but when she heard my story she wanted to meet me. As soon as I heard her voice for the first time, I knew she was going to be my mom! I crawled right into her arms and started purring, and she told the vet she would take me home. My mom always says that when she met me, it was love at first sight!

What made Gwen wanna write a book about you? You didn't force her at gunpoint, did you? (considering all your talents, that wouldn't surprise me)

As if! I hate it when my mom’s writing, because it means she has less time to play with me! Although she usually lets me sleep in her lap while she’s writing, which is my favorite place to be anyway.

My mom has always loved great stories, especially great adventure stories, and she said that the story of our life together had all the makings of a classic “boy and his dog” story. (even though she’s a girl and I’m a cat!) She also thinks that sometimes humans give up on themselves or the other humans and pets in their lives too easily. So she wanted to tell everybody all about somebody like me, who was supposed to be “hopeless” and who nobody had wanted, but who went on to prove everybody wrong and have a really terrific life.

But mostly she just likes when stories make people happy. She thought my story might make people happy.

Gwen tells some wonderful anecdotes in her book: your demonic dexterity at catching flies and roaches, not to mention how you scared away a burglar in the middle of the night! These are mighty accomplishments for a feline, I have to admit, but even more so because you're blind. Where on earth did you get all that spunk, man?

I got so mad the night that burglar broke in! I was so mad, I totally forgot how little I am (I only weigh about three pounds). It was late at night and my mom was sleeping, and I heard the man come into our bedroom where we were both sleeping in bed. I started growling and that woke my mom up. I could feel how scared and tense she got when she saw someone in our bedroom. That made me really angry! Nobody scares my mom while I’m around! I tried to claw his face, and when he turned and ran I ran right after him. My mom had to chase after me, and she yelled at me for running after the burglar. (Of course, I knew I totally did the right thing.) But then she calmed down and apologized, and the police came, so everything was all right.

Everybody always wants to know how a blind cat like me can do so many things. But I’ve always been blind, so I don’t know any different way to be. Plus, my senses of hearing and smell are much stronger than other cats’ or even dogs’ (no offense!). I can tell the difference between a can of tuna fish (which I loooooooove) and a can of tomato soup (ewwww!) while they’re still in the can, just by smelling them. Even my sisters, Vashti and Scarlett, can’t do that! My mom always says I have “superpowers,” like the comic book superhero Daredevil.

Alert! Disgusting question: You eat flies but not roaches. Why?

Well, it’s hard to catch a fly in your mouth and not eat it. But the roaches in Miami, where I’m from originally, were a lot bigger. Some of them were almost as big as me! I always thought they’d make a neat gift for my mom, because she does so much for me. So whenever I caught a bunch of really big ones, I’d leave them in a pile for her at the foot of her bed as a present. She always said “thank you!”

On 9/11, you were right there just blocks away from the twin towers. What was your reaction when you heard the explosion? I understand Gwen wasn't at home then. What did you do until you were able to reunite with her?

She was with us when the planes hit the towers, but she thought it was just a car backfiring so she went to work. I knew right away, though, that something was very wrong. I could hear and smell all kinds of things that made me very nervous. I tried to tell her—I hissed and growled and ran back and forth between her and the windows in our apartment—and she ended up leaving for work later than she usually did because she was trying to calm me down. But she still didn’t believe me that something was wrong, so she finally left even though I was still upset. She still blames herself for not listening to me.

It took her three days to get back to us because they weren’t letting people back into the area where we lived. It was only a few blocks from Ground Zero. I knew my mom would never abandon us, but I didn’t understand why it was taking her so long to come back! We ran out of food and water and clean litter, and it was pretty awful. Plus, it smelled and sounded really, really scary down there! But I never lost faith that she would come to get us. And now I know how many people she begged and bribed and got help from just so she could come back and rescue us.

Between you and me, what's it like living with Gwen? Come on, she can't be that perfect! Most authors are psychotic, if you ask me.

She definitely has her moods! And her schedule gets all weird when she’s writing. I like things to happen the same way and at the same time every day, but it doesn’t always work out like that when she’s on a deadline. But she always says that being with me makes her feel better.

Are your feline 'sisters', Vashti and Scarlett, coping well with your stardom?

My mom and the human she married always make sure we all get the same amount of attention. But I’ve been doing some photo and video shoots lately, and when that happens I get all the treats and catnip I want. I pretend like I can’t be “trained,” so that they have to give me treats to make me do what they want me to do for the cameras. I think that makes Vashti and Scarlett a little jealous.

Did Gwen have any trouble selling the manuscript? I bet the first NY editor loved it, you lucky dude!

It actually took her a few tries. Some of the editors who read it didn’t think I was “special” enough, and one even said I was “creepy!” I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mom get so angry (or use so many bad words). But we love Caitlin, the editor at Random House we ended up with. She loves cats, too, and she’s the best!

How are YOU coping with stardom, huh?

People say you shouldn’t let fame go to your head, but I don’t see why. I am a cat, after all! I always thought I was pretty great because my mom tells me so all the time. Still, it’s nice to know that other people realize that now, too!

Any last words of cat wisdom?

Just that there’s nothing you can’t do as long as you have a little “cat-itude.” I was the kitten who nobody wanted or believed in, and look at me now!

I have to say, Homer, that even though you're a cat, it's been an honor having you here!


  1. I'm telling you, this cat is the bomb. I wish I had him!

  2. What an interesting interview, about looks like a book many will purchase and love. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Barry Eva (Storyheart)
    Author of "Across the Pond"
    Follow my daily blog at:

  3. Thank you, Homer, for teaching me more about overcoming obstacles in life. Excellent interview, Amigo! Enjoyed the video, too.

  4. Thanks for such a great interview Homer. You're amazing!


  5. What a great interview! The book is absolutely wonderful - if you haven't read it yet, run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore!

    I interviewed Homer's mom on my blog today, so if you want to learn more about Homer, Gwen, and the book, stop by!

  6. Homer, you certainly are an inspiration. I enjoyed learning about you and your feline ways. Keep up the great spirit!

    Children’s Author
    Write What Inspires You Blog
    The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
    Donna M. McDine’s Website