Cat Caught My Heart: Purrfect Tales of Wisdom, Hope and Love

Overview

For those who are "owned" by a cat, this irresistible collection celebrates the enigmatic feline. The cats in these tales bring home mice to "feed" nursing babies, meow sadly when the kids go off to school, gladden hearts at both weddings and funerals, keep folks company through their later years, all the while transforming their owners' lives.
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Overview

For those who are "owned" by a cat, this irresistible collection celebrates the enigmatic feline. The cats in these tales bring home mice to "feed" nursing babies, meow sadly when the kids go off to school, gladden hearts at both weddings and funerals, keep folks company through their later years, all the while transforming their owners' lives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553581010
  • Publisher: Bantam Books
  • Publication date: 7/6/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.91 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Capuzzo
Four times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Capuzzo writes a nationally syndicated pet column that appears in Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rocky Mountain News, and numerous other newspapers.  He is the author of Wild Things and Mutts: America's Dogs.

Teresa Banik Capuzzo has written feature stories for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.  She was the chief researcher for an Inquirer Pulitzer Prize-winning series and the book America: What Went Wrong?  The Capuzzos, who live on a farm in southern New Jersey, are co-authors of Our Best Friends, the companion volume to Cat Caught My Heart.

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Read an Excerpt

On Love

People may surprise you with unexpected kindness. Dogs have a depth of loyalty that often we seem unworthy of. But the love of a cat is a blessing and a privilege in this world.

--Kinky Friedman

I think back on the strange views that many people held about cats. They were selfish creatures reserving their affections only for situations which would benefit them, and they were incapable of the unthinking love a dog dispenses. They were totally self-contained creatures who looked after their own interests only. What nonsense! I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.

--James Herriot

Barney: A True Story of an Old Lady and Her Cat

Barney was a most unusual cat. He wasn't of any particular breed, just a stray that someone had tossed from a car in the woods at the bottom of my lane. He was about three months old when I found him--just a little thing crying in the woods. He was thin, scared, and hungry. I picked him up, carried him home; and in a few weeks he became, to me, the most beautiful cat I had ever seen.

Barney came to me at a crucial time in my life. My husband had died very suddenly of a heart attack three months before, and I was alone. It often amazed me that right about the time my husband died, Barney was born. Everyone needs someone to love and care for, and Barney became the most important part of my life.

Perhaps I loved Barney too much, but I had someone to get up for again in the morning, someone to feed and care for, but most important someone to love and someone to love me.

Barney was ared-and-orange tiger, often called a marmalade. His markings were perfect, and the stripes on each of his sides formed a bull's-eye. The children in the neighborhood often remarked what an excellent target he would make, but in the rural section of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I live, the children love and respect animals, so I didn't have to worry about Barney being hurt.

Barney had the most mischievous face and the brightest eyes I had ever seen on any cat, and he lived up to his face! It was very embarrassing when I had guests, to open the dish closet and find him sitting on the plates, and even more upsetting after dinner when I opened the dishwasher and pulled out the rack to have him jump in the back where I couldn't reach him. There he would sit until he was good and ready to come out.

Barney never ate like an ordinary cat. He used his paw for a spoon. He would scoop up his food and eat from his paw. He never slept like other cats with his face buried in his fur. He slept like a person, stretched out full length with his head on my pillow at the top of my bed.

Barney was not allowed out at night. He slept in my bed and every morning just as it began to get light he would awaken me and I would let him out. I think he must have had built-in radar. At ten o'clock, almost to the minute, he would come home for breakfast. Then he would go out again, checking in and out all day just to make sure I was home. The days I went out I would find him sitting in front of the garage anxiously awaiting my return. I would scoop him up in my arms, put him over my shoulder, and with that sleepy look of love on his face, he would purr so excitedly my neck would become all wet.

Barney loved to hunt--not mice, rabbits, or birds like any ordinary cat. Snakes were Barney's favorite. He brought home twelve that first summer--big ones, little ones, thin ones, thick ones, all kinds and all colors--and laid each one at my kitchen door. And Barney loved feathers. He would spend hours playing with them. I often thought Barney pulled the feathers from the tails of our wild guinea hens and pheasants as he stalked them through the fields. Barney's life was one adventure after another.

Barney was a born clown. Word went around the church that at my home there was always a floor show following dinner. Barney would climb on the back of the sofa and chairs and if any old lady had on a hair net, or earrings, Barney would manage to pull them off. One old lady swears to this day that Barney blew in her ear every time she visited. No one ever got angry. He was picked up, hugged, stroked, and kissed; and he loved every minute of it. Once when he jumped on the tea table and upset all the refreshments, the only remark made was, "Well, that's our Barney."

Every evening as I watched television, Barney would climb in my lap, put his little head on my shoulder, purr, and sleep. At those times he was no longer a cat. He was my baby, my little boy, and my heart filled with love.

One Saturday, late in September, he went out as usual. At ten o'clock he did not come home for breakfast. At noon, I had a premonition something had happened to him and I started looking for him. I called all of my neighbors and asked them to check their cars, garages, and barns, in case he had wandered in and the doors closed. Saturday night passed. It began to rain. I left the garage open and the lights on. I missed church on Sunday and enlisted the help of my neighbors. Everyone was looking for Barney. We walked the highway, through the fields and woods. Monday passed.

On Tuesday evening, just about dusk, my neighbor's young son came to the kitchen door. He looked as though he had been crying. "I found Barney," he said. I looked at him. "He's dead, isn't he?" He nodded. I followed him down the road to the edge of the woods, and there partially hidden by a mound of wet autumn leaves was the broken body of my beloved Barney. I never knew how or why he died. I picked him up, carried him home, and buried him in the garden.

That night I knelt by my bed and with tears streaming down my face asked that age-old question: "Why, God, why? Why Barney? Why Barney, who brought so much laughter and happiness to so many people--old people who had almost forgotten how to laugh?" And as I knelt there crying a feeling of peace came over me and it was then I knew. I knew where Barney was. I knew that Barney would live forever in my heart and in the hearts of all who knew him. And somehow I feel that as I approach the golden gate on my last journey, Barney will be sitting there waiting with that anxious look on his precious little face.

I thanked God for the little time I had him, wiped the tears from my face, and wrote my "Memorial to Barney."

Memorial to Barney

Lord Jesus was checking Heaven one day Walking along on the bright Milky Way. He said to himself, "Heaven seems very dull, The angels are grumbling, all is not well." He paused for a moment and then looked down And saw little Barney, my precious clown With his mischievous face and bright little eyes And he lifted him gently up to the skies. He gave him a crown of diamonds and gold And welcomed him in the heavenly fold.

Now Heaven is not the same as before For as soon as Barney got through the door He pushed off his crown on the golden stairs And climbed on the angels and purred in their ears. He pulled the feathers from out of their wings (Feathers were Barney's favorite playthings) And he almost toppled down from afar. As he tried to grab a twinkling star. He keeps pushing his crown around the floor And his tail gets caught in the golden door. The angels are busy as they can be Trying to keep up with little Barney.

He has brightened up Heaven, that I know But oh, little Barney, I miss you so!

--Evelyn B. Kruse, Age 88
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