Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Homer - The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat

I always tell people I'm an avid reader, because picking out what book to read next is exhilarating for me. When my mom told me in 2009 to read a book called Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, I instantly said that I had already read parts of it for school and didn't like it. I thought she was talking about The Odyssey by Homer and she was not.

Well, it turned out she was talking about a book about a black cat owned by a lady named Gwen Cooper. Of course a book about a black cat meant I was instantly interested. My mom had spent a large portion of one day, lying on the couch and reading Homer's Odyssey. We often shared books, but not super frequently because I did not find myself as interested in memoirs as I do now.

I started Homer's Odyssey and could not put it down. It was not your typical cat story whatsoever, and Gwen had clearly incorporated a story about disabled cats into her book. She might not have known it at the time, but Homer was about to garner a lot of popularity and quite the following.

And here we are in 2015, with Gwen's latest release just hitting the book world - Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat. I was so eager to read the sequel to Homer's Odyssey, and I can tell you that Gwen did not disappoint. Not one drop!

Gwen's writing was so much the same in Homer as it was in Homer's Odyssey that I felt like it was just the perfect continuation. Homer is short but sweet, coming in at 115 pages. Gwen went the self-publishing route, because an industry length book would've required 20,000 more words. And Gwen got the point of her story across in her 115 pages.

I interviewed Gwen in 2009 for my high school newspaper, The W.T. Woodson Cavalcade
Homer's Odyssey covered the first 12 years of Homer's life. Homer covers the last four years. Gwen covers her trials of sending her first Homer's Odyssey manuscript to publishers and celebrating when she finally was published in 2009. Gwen discusses her path to publication and her subsequent book tours.

It was completely evident from Gwen, that she never expected Homer's story to impact so many people. Homer was Gwen's cat, but when she wrote about him for the world to read, he became the world's cat. Everyone who read Homer's Odyssey felt like he was their cat, curled up in their lap as they read his story.
Homer. Image used with permission of Gwen Cooper.

Gwen would get letters and emails of people writing to tell her that Homer inspired them to adopt a blind or disabled cats. She received hundreds of these emails and they were her favorite to get. People from all over the world would share their rescue cats' stories on Homer's Facebook page. Homer's Facebook page even helped raise money for disaster relief affecting animals!

Homer covers Homer and Gwen's rise to fame. Readers will enjoy Gwen's tales of Homer's photoshoots and filming scenarios, that sent Gwen's husband Laurence out to buy turkey to bring on the set!

Homer in catnip action.
Image used with permission of Gwen Cooper.

Homer also allowed Gwen to write about the passing of her cats (and Homer's siblings) Vashti and Scarlett. It was clear to me that the therapeutic writing process of loss was completely there in Gwen's writing. I could feel her pain, because if you've lost a cat or someone dear, you know what that loss is like.

Readers were also introduced to Gwen's new kittens, Fanny and Clayton. Gwen told the story of how they came into their family and the adoration Clayton had for Homer. Clayton had a bad leg infection when Gwen and Laurence adopted him, and ultimately ended up having his leg amputated. But Clayton the tripod was able to run around and play with his sister Fanny, and Homer, all the same.

Since Homer had passed in August 2013, I knew that a portion of Homer would recount his loss.  Homer lived to be sixteen, remarkable for any cat, particularly for such an extraordinary one. Homer beat the odds of a rough start to life, and was so lucky to find a home in Gwen & co.

Meeting Gwen in person, September 2012.

I thoroughly enjoyed Homer, just as I anticipated. Whenever I recommended (and trust me I still do) Homer's Odyssey, I always told the person that Homer had a great life with Gwen and (at the time) was still alive. I always find it difficult to read pet stories where you know in the end that the cat or dog dies. But Homer's Odyssey was not a typical pet story and never will be. Despite that Homer has since passed, his legacy lives on, particularly on his Facebook page and Gwen's website.

Gwen is a phenomenal, New York Times Best Selling Author, philanthropist, animal activist and above all, a wonderful friend. I'm so glad that she got to finish Homer's story in Homer and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat is available now at

If you're interested in reading my past interviews with Gwen, check them out.
2012 Interview with Gwen on Homer's Odyssey
2013 Interview with Gwen on Love Saves the Day

Check out the time Gwen interviewed me as the Inaugural Homer's Hero, here.

Receiving a complementary copy of Homer did not influence my review whatsover. All my opinions are my own. Seriously, I went out and bought a copy of this book even though I already read it - it's that good :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

SCB's Third Annual Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Welcome back to Sandpiper Cat Blog's 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is one of my favorite posts to do, because I get to round up all of the great cat themed items out there and share them with you, my readers. I cannot believe this is my third year writing this post, but then again it is hard to believe that I have been blogging for almost FIVE years (in March)!

Bookmark our SCB Holiday 2015 board on Pinterest, as I will update it if I see any other great cat items for the holidays.

See our past guides: 2014 Guide & 2013 Guide.

Category One: Books

Coming December 8, is the much anticipated sequel to New York Times Best Selling Author, Gwen Cooper's Homer's Odyssey: A fearless feline tale, or how I learned about love and life with a blind wondercat. 

The new book, is entitled Homer: The ninth life of a blind wondercat. Homer will be available only on Homer will conclude his story, a life that was very much saved by Cooper. Homer enhanced Cooper's life and changed it for the better, and this 115 page novel spans four years.

Check back on Sandpiper Cat Blog for a review of the new book!

If you know or have tortie/tortoishell cats, you probably know that they are unlike any other felines. Torties have attitude...or as Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat refers to it as, tortitude. King writes about torties from a personal and professional perspective. Expert insights and gorgeous photography will be folded into the pages of this exciting new novel.

King's new book, Tortitude: The BIG book of cats with a BIG attitude, will be available on February 5, 2016. So while you might not be able to physically gift a copy of the book, a pre-order for a friend is just the same! Plus getting gifts in a few months is always fun.

Available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Category One-and-a-half: (Adult) Coloring Books

Adult coloring books are super in right now, and I have to say, there is something really awesome about this fad. I love the soothing motion of coloring in lines, and find it really relaxing. Adults have so much stress in their lives, and coloring books are a great stress relief method. Coloring books are not just for kids anymore! 

Margaret Gates Root of Feline Nutrition Foundation, has designed a wonderful Color Cats book that is one of more to come. She has created, to channel her passion for drawing and cats. The book is presented in landscape style, which is mindful of both right and left handed people (no paws!). The first page has a mouse toy featured on it; and the little mouse is hidden in every drawing through the book. Check out a sample page here!

Available on Amazon.

Another coloring book for adults that is stunning, is BZTAT's Color Me Cats. The return to childhood through coloring books is a great escape from reality, which is much needed. BZTAT's unique style is seen throughout her 25 original drawings. There are even a few dogs seen in the book...can you find them?

Available from BZTAT studios.

Category Two: Cat toys 

I was browsing in World Market the other day, and I saw these little lucky cat toys, made with American catnip! I am a huge fan of Maneki Nekos, the Japanese lucky cat - so I had to pick these up for my cats. The sniffed them out of the shopping bag and everyone instantly loved them. Charlie, Polly, Piper and Vickie spent the night licking them and kicking them - what a hit!

Available from World Market.

I spend a huge amount of time in Target, which means I'm always finding something new and fun to try out. I found myself at the endcap of the pet aisle, which had these adorable cat scratcher houses. Let me just tell you, these houses are a HUGE hit! The cats really enjoy spending time in their little cozy scratch houses. I commend Target for these awesome cat designs - they really are fantastic with a great aesthetic. They fit well tucked away in the corner of your home.

Available from Target in gingerbread and a holiday gift box.

Category Three: Cat Lover Accessories

 Now, we received a CatLadyBox in August 2015 that we really adored! Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and Dorian Wagner has outdone herself with her CatLadyBox subscription service. Available in the CatLadyBox (2-3 cat themed items) or CRAZY CatLadyBox (same as regular PLUS at least 2 items for your cats). 

Our August 2015 box was exciting and had so many great items.
The prices of the boxes vary and are available to pay month to month, 3 month prepay and 6 month prepay. A wonderful idea for your cat loving friend, there is no way they will be disappointed with a unique array of goodies, handpicked and approved by the CatLadyBox team (yes, that includes Dorian's cats!).

Triple-T Studios has outdone themselves with items this year. I have a particular affinity for these two items, which are great for your cat lady who loves to travel. 

The Catwalk Cosmetic Bag is a great way to store your favorite cosmetics while traveling, whether it's far away or just to work or school. Designed exclusively for Triple-T Studios, this bag even has little pawprints on the back of it!

The Tiniest Tiger Duffle is a sleek black suitcase, with embroidered cats. Proudly pronounce your love for cats while traveling with this machine washable duffel!

Last but not least is for the favorite writer and cat lover in your life! The Cat Lined Kraft Journals from World Market feature two different cover designs with black and white cats. The pages are lined and have a cat on each page. The 96 pages in these journals is plenty of space to write down ideas of all sorts.

Available from World Market here.

Piper and I thank you for joining us for our 3rd annual holiday gift guide! 2015 absolutely flew by, but we cannot wait to see what 2016 brings us.

Happy Holidays and Warm Regards!

Rachel & Sandpiper

Disclosure: Some of the items in this blog post were sent to me for review. Receiving complimentary items did not influence my post or opinion and never will. Some items were purchased with my own money. Sandpiper Cat Blog is not liable for your purchases with third parties.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Review: Catify to Satisfy

Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin have done it again with "Catify to Satisfy: Simple Solutions for Creating a Cat-Friendly Home." This book is a deeper dive into Catification, their previous collaboration together.

Releasing this Tuesday November 17, Catify to Satisfy is chock full of beautiful full-color inspiring home decor photos and tips from across the country on how to make life better for both cat guardians and kitties! Their ideas for creating a cat friendly aesthetic in your home, is sure to please both you and your cat.

Jackson and Kate use this book to show cat lovers everywhere that it's possible to create cat-friendly but also chic homes. This new book features DIY projects and designs, which have inspired the Catification Nation community.

Simple suggestions of litter cabinets with "cute kitty cutouts" is a great way to disguise the litterboxes while leaving a pleasing appearance for your home. Jackson even provides tips for choosing the right size litter box for your cat. "When in doubt, go bigger," he says.

The love of cats and creating cat friendly homes is evident from reading Catify to Satisfy. Jackson and Kate have a dedication towards friendly feline living that is unparalleled. The strategies that Jackson and Kate have compiled.

Every time someone reads Catify to Satisfy, they will certainly find new ideas and motivation in each reading. I know I have some great ideas for incorporating our cat's favorite ways to hang out in the house, that is appealing to my eye and decor.

Read our review from 2014 on Catificaiton, here.

Catify to Satisfy is full on great cat tips for cat guardians and fanatics - just like in the video featured above. 

Make sure that the cat lovers in your life have a copy of this fantastic book. DIYs for your cat have never been better. The projects and hacks will bring harmony back into your home. No challenge is unsolvable!

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever else books are sold.

See Jackson Galaxy on Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell. Find Kate Benjamin on

Receiving a complimentary copy of the book did not influence this review or anything we stated. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Feral Cat Day 2015

Wow, another year has gone by since my last National Feral Cat Day post. It is hard to believe we are at the beautiful autumnal season again. I feel like it was just May when I was in Nashville for BlogPaws.

Welcome back to Sandpiper Cat Blog's 5th annual year of celebrating National Feral Cat Day. NFCD is sponsored by Alley Cat Allies - who created the event in 2001.

I love promoting and celebrating NFCD because one of my cats, Vickie, was a feral cat before we adopted her from our local rescue. In fact, oru three most recent adoptions - Bobby, PHolly and Charlie were trapped, neutered and rescued (not returned) in Cape May, NJ!

There are lots of misconceptions about what a feral cat is - and NFCD is out there to debunk rumors. My cats that were trapped, are domesticated and socialized to humans. True feral cats, are not socialized to humans.

The most basic information about this special day, that I want to reiterate, is what a feral cat (also referred to as a "community cat") is in fact.

Feral Cat Facts

  • Cats have lived alongside humans for more than 10,000 years. They are part of the natural landscape. Feral cats are the same species as pet cats. Feral cats, also called community or outdoor cats, live in groups called colonies and can thrive in every landscape. They are just as healthy as pet cats, but they are not socialized to humans and are therefore unadoptable.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return—a humane approach to managing and caring for community cats—is the only effective method of stabilizing cat colonies. In the last decade, the number of local governments with official policies endorsing TNR has increased tenfold, with hundreds of cities and towns successfully carrying out TNR programs.
  • However, in the majority of cities, cats are still caught and brought to animal pounds and shelters where they are killed. The shelter system is the number one cause of death for cats in the United States. About 70% of cats who enter shelters are killed there, including virtually 100% of feral cats. That’s why it’s so important for people like you to join us for National Feral Cat Day®, and every day, to help change society and create compassionate communities for cats.

Read our past posts: 2014, 20132012, 2011.

Spread the word and use #FeralCatDay!

Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Update & Happy 5th Birthday Piper!

~From the desk of Sandpiper Cat Blog ~

Hello friends! It has been a little while since I wrote, but boy have Piper and I been busy over here. In May 2015, I attended the annual BlogPaws Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was so much fun to catch up with all of my blog friends and even some of the pets! I was starstruck when I met Waffles and Katie from Glogirly!

I got to hang out with Ingrid King from The Conscious Cat and Christine Michaels of Riverfront Cats, and go on a tour of the Nashville TV Show filming locations. Nashville is a super fun city and it was great to explore with so many of my friends. We also spent a lot of time in the Catification Lounge by Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther. Sandpiper Cat Blog is working closely with some of the awesome brands we met there to develop lots of fun reviews and giveaways coming soon.

For those of you who have been with me since the start, you probably know about Piper's unique story that led to this blog. But seeing as today, September 9th, 2015, is Piper's 5th birthday - I thought it would be a great time to share her story and remind readers about the importance of animal rescue!

Piper was a foster when she arrived in our household, only seven months old and pregnant. I had started my blog to chronicle Piper's delivery and the process of raising kittens and adopting them out. But that plan soon changed.

 The first night I had Piper in my room, she started to deliver her kittens - but she was only 20 weeks along out of 40 weeks. The delivery was two hours long and needless to say, none of her kittens made it, which was very difficult. Piper had to have an emergency spay the next day as she still had a kitten inside of her.

We brought Piper home after her emergency spay, and I nursed her back to health. She had medication to take and we had to watch for anemia (which at one point caused an emergency trip to the vet) and keep her activity level down.

Every night, Piper slept next to my head, in the crook of my arm. Needless to say, we bonded very quickly and I became attached. So it was only fitting, that we adopted Piper and she became the lucky number seven cat.

Even though my original intent for the blog did not work out, I decided I would keep writing and updating my friends about Piper's life. And then I found my other blogging friends and attended the BlogPaws conferences - and suddenly I realized that writing about cats was one of my passions and something I wanted to continue! Hence, the Sandpiper Cat Blog you are reading today.

And today happens to be Piper's 5th birthday! It's been a great 5 years with my lucky girl and I look forward to many more!

Friday, July 10, 2015

National Kitten Day 2015

Today is National Kitten Day. It will be a fun day for us cat-lovers to celebrate, but it also ties into something very important to Best Friends Animal Society. Because of the around-the-clock care that they require, kittens are one of the most vulnerable populations in animal shelters across the country. And this is nowhere more apparent than in Los Angeles, where in 2014, 61% of animals killed in shelters were kittens. Best Friends wants to change that, but we need a new kitten nursery to save an additional 4,400 lives and help us succeed in making LA a no-kill city.
Image courtesy of Best Friends.

Well, if LA can become no-kill, it can serve as a model for the rest of the country. If Best Friends can solve the issue there, then it can be done anywhere--the very heart of Best Friends' mission to Save Them All.
Image courtesy of Best Friends.
Best Friends is working hard this month to educate people about this important cause and asking for help to raise the funds needed to get the additional kitten nursery. So Sandpiper Cat Blog is spreading the word about this lifesaving campaign to #SaveTheKittens this National Kitten Day. You can learn more (and supporters can make a donation) here:

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing

One of my fondest childhood memories is being read great stories before bed, by my parents. We never had a short supply of great cat books. Many of which I still think about from time to time.

In the many years since my parents read my nighttime stories, there have been so many awesome cat books published! I'm excited to be reviewing "Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing" by Ann Cerino, illustrated by Kathy Kunsman. Stay tuned to the bottom of the post, for a chance to win a copy of "Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing!"

"Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing" is the second book in the Carmella series. The first book is "Carmella the Cat," in which children ages 2-8 learn about how Carmella, a stranded orange and white tabby kitten,  was rescued and adopted into a loving 'fur-ever' home, and what it means to be responsible for another living being. Additional books in the series will come out in 2016 and beyond.

Written by Lehigh Valley, PA native, Ann Cerino, 10% of sales from the books are donated to animal shelters in the Lehigh Valley area.

The "Carmella the Cat" series is based on true events of author Cerino. Cerino found Carmella's litter in a flooded drainage ditch, and Carmella was the only one who survived. Cerino rushed Carmella to the vet, where Dr. Ackerman saved Carmella's life and treated her until she was ready to be adopted.

The real Carmella!

In the first page of "Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing," I love the attention to detail of the cat toys on the floor. All toys that my cats play with, especially the springs!

The illustrations of Carmella in action match perfectly with the playfulness of cats! It is so easy to picture your own cat playing along the way Carmella does.

Carmella learns a valuable lesson on fishing in this book - which is also a great lesson to be taught to children who have pet fish, pet cats or both!

"Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing" is definitely the kind of book my parents would have read to me as a kid. The simple wording in this book makes it easy for kids to be able to recite it from memory and use that as a tool to learn how to read. I certainly know that was the way I learned how to read.

Carmella the Cat's website is also a great place to visit with your kids, after reading the story! It has a cute little game where you can help lead Carmella home. There are also a few coloring pages you can print out!

Carmella's books are available for purchase on the Carmella the Cat Website, Barnes and Noble (Carmella the Cat, Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing) and Amazon (Carmella the Cat, Carmella the Cat Goes Fishing)

And now for a giveaway!

Giveaway Rules:
  • Enter through the Rafflecopter giveaway below (comment entries not accepted). Email with any problems.
  • Open to United States
  • Winner contacted by email, must reply in 48 hours.
  • Giveaway to run from 12 am EST 6/1/2015 to 6/8/2015 at 12 am EST.
  • Good luck!

Receiving a complimentary copy of the book did not influence this review or anything we stated. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.