Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Favorite Book of 2014: Purr Therapy by Dr. Kathleen McCoy

It's always customary at the end of the year to write "best of" posts, but instead of doing a Top 10 list of some sort I decided to post a review of my favorite book of 2014. I read this book back in September but never featured it here because I was unable to put into words how deeply it touched my heart. I've written and re-written the review and have finally gotten it to where I'm pretty happy with it. Just trust me and buy it.

Purr Therapy
Blurb: Cats aren't a typical choice for animal-assisted psychotherapy, but Timmy and Marnia are anything but typical.

Research has found that petting a cat can lower blood pressure and a cat's purr is thought to help heal body tissues and bones. But not just any cat can be a therapy cat, after all, such animals need to be friendly with strangers and willing to be touched, petted and held by unfamiliar people. They have to be tolerant ofloud voices and angry shouting, emotional distress, and sudden movements. It's a tall order for any animal,but a particular challenge for a cat.

In Purr Therapy, psychotherapist and cat lover Dr. Kathleen McCoy shows how two very special cats rose to this challenge, how they helped wounded souls to heal and how they taught even her lessons in mindfulness, joyful living, and compassion. She also shows readers how animal-assisted psychotherapy works and gives them an intimate and moving inside look at how Timmy and Marina worked with patients, how their double role as animal companions and cotherapists changed lives, and how, after their untimely deaths, the grief shared by those who knew and loved them led to even more growth and healing.

It's no surprise that there is a tidal wave of cat fanciers growing: even the internet prefers cats. No dog site has reached the proportions of the most popular cat sites—case in point: the mega-star Grumpy Cat who has over 2 ½ million followers! More than an internet trend, this very active market is exploding through cat video contests and festivals that are claiming the passions of millions who will benefit from—and love—Purr Therapy.

***Confession: I have not been able to watch the book trailer once without crying.***

Tortie Shorties
Book reviews that are short and sweet...just like Truffles!

I've never been a big believer in psychotherapy. I guess I've just never understood how talking to a complete stranger about your problems can make a difference. The warmth and comfort of a cat's fur, the sound of a meow or a purr, has always been the only therapy I have ever needed. One of the (many) cat signs I have hanging in my home even says, "I don't need therapy...I have a cat."

This incredibly beautiful memoir is the story of Dr. Kathy McCoy and her husband Bob, and the seven special cats that have shared their lives. The focus is on Timmy, a Burmese and red-tabby mix, and Marina, a flame-point Siamese, angels sent to earth for a very short time who changed the lives of everyone they came into contact with through their work as accidental therapy cats. 

The parts of this book that resonated the most with me were the sections on pet loss and grief. In the very beginning we meet McCoy’s 17 year old cat, Freddie, who is dying of cancer and kidney failure. She later loses Timmy to tainted cat food, and Marina to feline leukemia. She explains that the death of a pet is every bit, if not more, devastating than the loss of a friend or family member, and it makes sense because they are our daily companions, whereas friends and family we might go months without seeing. Personally, I have experienced the death of grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and I am not at all ashamed to say that the deaths of my cats have affected me far deeper. Her observations on when to know the right time to bring another pet into your life following a loss also struck a chord with me, since at times I have felt guilty adopting Truffles so soon after losing Tara. This latter part of the book had me crying my eyes out, but I also found it quite therapeutic, and will be re-reading it and recommending it to anyone who is grieving.

I've found that I always have the hardest time writing reviews for books that touch me the deepest. I have this need to just shout, "BUY IT! READ IT!" Suffice it to say that this is one of the most meaningful, uplifting, heartwrenching cat memoirs that I have ever read. The story of Timmy and Marina touched my soul to it's core, and even though I never met them, I will never forget them and the amazing lives that they led, even though they were both lost tragically and well before their time. They are further proof that the brightest stars shine for the shortest time.


Angel Prancer Pie said...

Sounds like a poignant read. Definitely going on our list.
Happy Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I cried just reading your review.

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The Island Cats said...

We could all use some Purr Therapy.

Marg said...

That does sound like a wonderful book. Nothing better than a cat for therapy. They sure do make this person smile all the time. Thanks for that great review of the book. Take care.

Brian's Home Blog said...

That was a darn good review...we will have to read this one! Hey, about Turtle...the only rescue to step up is Kitten Action Team...they only deal with kittens.


What an amazing review. We will have to get this book. I hope it is an ebook so I can download to my kindle app.

Kitty Cat Chronicles said...

The Cat on My Head did a review of this book a while back and I wanted to read it, but then forgot about it. I'm so glad that you mentioned this book today! I can't wait to read it - it sounds amazing!!! And it will be purrfect to read while I'm getting Sophie certified to be a therapy cat.

pilch92 said...

Sonds like a great book and I will get it from the library soon, but I don't want to cry right now.

Sweet Purrfections said...

Sounds like a good book. I agree that cats are wonderful for therapy and comfort. However, I do admit that I've needed additional psychotherapy in the past and it does work. There's nothing wrong in seeking help when you can't handle things on your own.

Mama Cat said...

Sounds like book that will be added to my Kindle list...thank you! I have had cats who have brought healing balm to my heart, showed me God's love, and even help heal grief. Happy New Year, Truffles and Melissa!!

Anonymous said...

Pawsum weview. Glad yous enjoyed da book.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

Marty the Manx said...

I had won this book in a give away from the Cat On My Head. I in turn gave it to Sherr-Ellen when she lost Sweet Nylablue. It is a wonderful book and is making the rounds :)