Book Review: “Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean" By Jackson GalaxyPublished May 10, 2012
Naturally, I was waiting anxiously for the arrival of Cat Daddy; eager to dive into what I thought would be a brilliant instructional manual on “how to fix a cat that’s broken."
Precious and thought-provoking gifts sometimes do arrive in the shape of a Fed-Ex delivery.
I quickly tore off its wrapper and began searching for a few pearls of Jackson’s extraordinary wisdom, enabling me to have a far deeper and closer relationship with Sir Hubble Pinkerton and Dr. Hush Puppy, our two Oriental Shorthair cats.
While there are some extraordinarily helpful “pearls of wisdom” sprinkled liberally throughout the book, Cat Daddy is by no means a “how to” instructional manual. It is far richer. At times Jackson shares his philosophy on life with such a depth of raw emotion that he gives readers (if they are willing and open to do so), the opportunity to stare deeply into their own personal mirrors.
Cat Daddy is one of the most naked, open and honest, self-examinations, I have read.
Written by a man whose spirit and soul were shattered and almost broken beyond repair, it is the story about how the many cats Jackson Galaxy encountered and grew to love over his many years working at an animal shelter taught him more about his own personal demons than the mysterious behavior of felines.
Recognizing himself in Benny, his emotionally scarred cat, Jackson writes, “Benny and I are both socially isolated, behaviorally un-lubricated, two fingers on the same hand caught in the massive gears. This is what differentiates sympathy from empathy. No matter how much I care for you, it’s not until I recognize me in you and you in me that the veil of gauze is lifted on the world.”
After reading that paragraph, I immediately put the book on the dining room table where it sat for weeks, unread. There was something about this book I found so blatantly true and hard to look at, I resisted its pages with a vengeance.
But since I was on a promised deadline to have the review published on the day it was to be officially released, I was no longer able to procrastinate.
Plunging into the book with mixed emotions-resistance and curiosity-I soon found myself swept up into Jackson’s outpouring of feeling. Something opened in my heart the moment I permitted myself to accept Jackson Galaxy without judgment and to feel empathy, and I was hooked.
I carried the book from room to room, eating up his words like a nourishing meal as I walked through the house. Book in hand, I found myself petting our cats; feeling a depth of love and appreciation for them, as if through freshly- opened eyes.
While Cat Daddy is not a “how to” manual, it carries profound teaching. Reading it moved me to a deeper level of insight. Although truthfully I love our cats, what I found most difficult to admit to myself or to anyone else, was my resistance to loving our cats fully, in the present. I hold back; afraid to re-experience the deep sorrow of the losses I experienced over the years.
I felt Jackson knew me intimately when I read, “As anyone who has lost an animal companion, the immediacy of the loss blows through you as if you were in an abandoned farmhouse.” These words opened the floodgates of the tears I have been damming up for so many years, leaving room to heal my wounds.
Like water flowing in a brook, sometimes peaceful, sometimes in white rapids rushing over rocks, Jackson’s undaunting spirit constantly permeates the book. For anyone who shares their heart with a cat, for anyone who works in a shelter, for anyone involved in rescue, this book is a must-read. It is riveting, it is challenging, but most of all, it is unforgettable.
Cat Daddy is on sale at Amazon.com and in bookstores across the country in hardcover edition.
I hope this review has inspired you to read Cat Daddy. It is both an invitation for self-exploration, examining relationships and to find the wounded feline inside yourself.
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