Guest book review by Peter J Wolf
I’m not what you’d call a fast reader. Not for lack of practice, mind you—I read plenty. But I’ve never once sat down and read a book cover to cover in one sitting. I came close recently, though—so engaging is Jackson Galaxy’s debut title, Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean.
It’s easy to lose oneself in a book like Cat Daddy: a story, as Jackson tells it, “about two broken beings who fixed one another” told with unexpected (and gloriously colorful) candor. Such indulgences are not without risks, however—in this case, the real possibility of getting in too deep without a box of tissues handy.
And you’re going to need it. (Don’t believe me? See if you can make it through the 86-second book trailer without getting at least a little misty-eyed.)
But back to those two broken beings…
The incorrigible cat to which the book’s sub-title refers was Benny, described by Jackson as “seven pounds of feline frustration who I loved with all my heart.”
“A petite gray-and-white domestic shorthaired cat, he challenged me every day for over thirteen years. Every time I let myself get complacent in my knowledge of cats, in my place in their world, I’d take a deep breath, lace my fingers behind my head and lean back in my chair, and look over to Benny… who was flipping me the bird.”
At the time Benny came into his life—abandoned by a woman who called the cat “unbondable”—Jackson was fighting complacency on multiple fronts as he struggled with various addictions. (Early on, the book’s working title was Cats, Drugs and Rock & Roll.)
Benny’s arrival was life-changing, the wake-up call Jackson desperately needed (one his band mates, friends, family, and co-workers had been unable to deliver).
“I believe that without Benny, I might still have been a successful cat behaviorist. But my experience with him brought me to a place where I had no choice but to abandon my comfort. For years I did OK living a life of disengagement. The things I believed kept me sane—strict cinderblock boundaries, addiction, cynicism and self-sabotage—were unacceptable if I was ever to hear him. And if I was unwilling to hear Benny, I was unwilling to hear, learn from, be with every other cat in the world. I had to get clean of alcohol, drugs, and food. I had to accept humility. I had to be present and willing to learn and change. Things I would never do for another human (or myself) I did for the sake of Benny.”
Anybody familiar with Jackson’s show My Cat from Hell (currently filming Season 3) has witnessed—and marveled at—how the man connects with cats, winning over even the toughest cases with his trademark “cat mojo.” (Like MCFH, the book includes lots of practical advice about behavior, nutrition, and environmental enrichment—or “catification”—for readers, whether their cats are from Hell or not.)
Turns out, Jackson’s got more than a little people mojo too. There’s an undeniable authenticity that comes through in Cat Daddy; its confessional nature and raw, often lyrical, prose are sure to resonate with a broad audience.
And it’s that human connection that’s going to make the greatest difference.
Since he began working with cats 17 years ago, Jackson’s made a point of challenging the conventional “cat guy” image—with his shaved head, sculpted facial hair, earrings, and tattoos. It is, as he explains in the book’s preface, all part of his plan.
“We need to explode the concept of what a cat guy looks like, what a cat girl looks like. We need a country literally full of cat guys and cat girls, bikers, politicians, clergy, and everyone in between, in order to keep millions from dying without homes.”
In Cat Daddy, Jackson further explodes (thanks, in part, to a generous helping of f-bombs) the “cat guy” concept, thus moving us closer to the day when every cat has a home. For this, we all owe Jackson—and Benny—a debt of gratitude.
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Don’t forget! There are still a couple of days left for you to pre-order Cat Daddy and help shelter cats! Order your copy of Cat Daddy before May 10, and Tarcher/Penguin will donate $1.00 to the cause of saving shelter cats. To make your pre-order count, simply e-mail a photo or scan of your receipt to: CatDaddyBook@gmail.com.