I was honored to be given a copy of this book by the publisher simply because I shared links to My Cat From Hell, trying to help promote it. I actually don’t have a television and did not watch the program, nor have I watched it on iTunes, so I am coming to this story knowing a lot less about Jackson and what he does than most. But while I might be entertained by watching the program, I know I will never forget his story.
Animals come along to teach us that though we may think we are, we are not the boss, we are not perfect, we are not always right and we are not immortal…and that’s not only okay, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, silly human. Now that you know that, you can find out who you really are and live life on your real path and not the one you made up, and we can all live, together.
Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean by Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell is his own story of that odyssey, and how it made him the cat behaviorist he is. From the disorganized compartmentalized life of a variously-addicted person, through his life as a creative person and long list of jobs, Jackson ends up at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and meets Benny, the cat who will change him and his life, and thereby the lives of many other cats as well.
He openly and humorously discusses the depths of his lifestyle under the influence of various combinations of medications, beverages, hallucinogenics, ups, downs and even food. It’s not easy to bare your soul and deepest thoughts, but sometimes it’s even harder to bare the truth of what you did when you were totally wasted and thought you were cool, but admitting it is what makes an addict who they are on the other side of addiction, and Jackson is no different.
Everyone, including Jackson himself, comments on his appearance—tattoos, shaved head, earrings, styled beard—and how the last thing they’d think would be that he was a “cat daddy”. However, in his photos I find Jackson’s looks familiar, like other musicians and artists I know and have known (especially if you count the original rainbow dreadlocks), and who are, oddly enough, often also cat daddies though sometimes a dog was their rescuer. They share a similar story of an animal who came into their life, “led them safely away from dark corners” to paraphrase Jackson and taught them, first, that they were loved and worthy of love, though this usually in some bizarre and unconventional manner that somehow got through the armor of this wounded person, and then taught them how to live as themselves. And often they look pretty unconventional because, well, not all cats have the same stripes, and nor do people.
I chickened out when I learned in the 1980s that a job in the shelter required not only being present for euthanasias, but actually performing them, and ran the other way. Jackson did not, though it took losing the rainbow dreadlocks to get him in. Accepting the burden of daily euthanasia was, for him, a turning point, not only for the natural empathy it engendered in him but for the way helping individual animals avoid euthanasia scheduled for behavioral reasons began the fine-tuning of his already keen communication with animals. He followed where it led, and shortly it led to Benny, who taught Jackson through Benny’s own bizarre and unconventional manners how to listen and understand, that healing is not a one-sided relationship, that if you don’t at least spend some time “in the moment” you totally miss out on life, and you especially miss out on love.
It also led out of the shelter and into business with Dr. Jean Hofve and Little Big Cat, and Spirit Essences, and a lot of feline lives saved through a combination of natural, homeopathic and often unconventional holistic means.
The book includes many tips on understanding feline behavior pulled out in separate boxes from the spare and clean design of the book, but the biggest tip in the book is in the whole story itself, an overall understanding of how Jackson came to be the cat behaviorist he is: listen, understand, feel their energy and your own, and understand that your relationship is reciprocal on that energetic level. Hard to grasp, and even harder to remember in the moment once you grasp it, but cats are so energetically sensitive that you need to be aware of your self in order to understand their behavior and even physical conditions.
I will thank the cat who came into the life of a withdrawn eight-year-old who did not make eye contact and barely spoke intelligibly, gave her something to love and to share and a muse for life, setting her on the path guided by cats. And later, the cat who rescued the misguided college student living above a bar and still determined to run down the dark path, ensuring that she survived to find herself and to thank him by rescuing other cats in his name. And each cat who has come to since me has had a paw in my daily emotional and physical wellness, just as much as I have in theirs.
So when that rescued cat gives us his first look of love, or our lifelong feline companion her final loving farewell gaze, and we are able to see and understand it, we know that we have passed beyond simply living with an animal to sharing an eternal bond of love with an individual.
I know I come late to the table with this review; it’s my sadness that I can’t spend hours reading as I used to as my eyes are already strained by my regular work on my computer plus the art and illustration I do most of the day. It’s taken me some time to read through this, and if I’d known an audio book would be forthcoming I might have held out for that! I listen to audio books all the time and I’d love to hear Jackson read his book, but just remember for those who are more oriented to iPods and listening than sitting and reading the audio book will be available soon!
Visit Jackson’s website and also find his book on Amazon.com. Also, read many of the other reviews that have been published in the past few weeks: Book review: Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy on The Conscious Cat by Ingrid King; Mojo Monday – My Review of Jackson Galaxy’s book, “Cat Daddy” on Zee & Zoey by Deb Barnes; Cat Daddy Book Review and Giveaway on Cat Wisdom 101 by Layla Morgan Wilde; BOOK REVIEW Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy on ModernCat by Peter J Wolf; Book Review: Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy on We Have a Situation by Rachel Shubin; Review of Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy by Lisa Richman on A Tonk’s Tail; Four Paws Up for “Cat Daddy” on Paws and Effect by JaneA Kelly; and Book Review: “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean” By Jackson Galaxy on Petside.com by Jo Singer. Let me know if I missed your review—I thought I had them all bookmarked!
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