BOOKS: Homer’s Odyssey

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)
Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
Bantam Books (1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019), 2009. 296
pages, paperback. $15.00.
South Florida resident Gwen Cooper, already keeping two
rescued cats, Scarlett and Vashti, answered a call about Homer, a
scrappy black kitten without eyes. Would she adopt him? The
veterinarian’s office had barely finished describing Homer’s plight
when Cooper caved in. Shrugging off disability, Homer sharpened his
other senses, learning to snag flies in midair and to stack
cockroaches in piles, then meow for Cooper’s attention.

One night an intruder broke into Cooper’s apartment.
Hissing, spitting and yowling from the angry blind cat drove the man
out. Cooper and Homer were both unharmed. The intruder might not
have been.
Cooper eventually landed a dream job in New York City and
relocated to a studio apartment in the Manhattan financial district.
Adjusting to less space, Homer soon befriended just about everyone
in Cooper’s life.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 Cooper heard “an
enormous muffled BOOM,” as she readied for work. Homer puffed up,
sensing trouble, but Cooper left to go to work without knowing what
had happened until she saw the World Trade Center burning. With a
co-worker, Cooper fled with thousands of other frightened New Yorkers
across the Brooklyn Bridge. As they crossed Cooper heard a “colossal
crack and groan.” Everyone turned to see the tower “collapsing inward
upon itself.”
Worrying all the way about her cats, Cooper and her friend
reached Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, about ten miles from lower Manhattan,
and the next morning began trying to get back to the cats. Getting
through the police lines took her three days. As there was no
electricity in her building, she walked up 31 flights. There she
found Scarlet, Vashti, and Homer, thirsty and bewildered, yet
safe. They stayed with friends away from Ground Zero until normalcy
was restored.
Homer, still alive and well, remains an endless source of
comfort, pleasure, and entertainment for Cooper–and an effective
ambassador for blind cats. Cooper maintains an online
question-and-answer page for other people who have blind cats, and
donates some of her earnings from Homer’s Odyssey to Blind Cat Rescue
& Sanctuary, Inc., of St. Pauls, North Carolina.
–Debra J. White

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