True stories tell how cats weave their way into our hearts as our forever soul-mates and the book Paw Prints in the Moonlight tells how cats become our best friends.
Cats can become our best friends and we find that story very aptly told in ‘Paw Prints in the Moonlight’ by Denis O’Connor, the heartwarming true story of one man and his cat.
In 2012, Paws invested in a number of cat books, and much to our dismay, we haven’t had time to read them, until now. And even though this book may not be new on the horizon, the author has a very special story to tell, one so many of us cat lovers can relate to.
Over the next few weeks and months, Paws plans to relate many true stories about cats, how they find us, and how they leave their pawprints on our hearts forever, even after they pass over the Rainbow Bridge. We are doing this as we want to let people know how good cats are for us humans and for society as a whole. We may think we rescue them, but in reality, the cats rescue us.
How cat become our best friends
This timeless story is set in rural Northumberland, England, and we get a glimpse into just how much people and pets could enjoy the spender of the four seasons. As with so many stories of this kind, the cat actually finds the owner. We’re not sure what fate brings this about, but it seems to be a common theme.
Denis, had taken a job at a local university, and had bought a rustic stone cottage, called Owls’ Cottage. One winder night during a blinding snowstorm, he hears the cry of a cat. Curious, he follows the cry, and we can just picture him wading through snowdrifts towards what would turn out to be a mama cat, who had been caught in a trap. She had escaped, and returned to nurse her two baby kittens.
Upon find mama and her two babies, he takes them back to the cottage and to the local vet, where he is told there is no hope for any of them. However, three-week-old Toby Jug stirs, and Denis has a wild thought – perhaps, he could nurse him back to life. While the odds are totally against this, he takes the kitten home, and with great attentiveness, gives the cat a chance to live. Using a fountain pen to give the cat milk, he finds a jug to use as his little home – thus the name Toby Jug.
Paws for Reflection purchased this book, and did not receive any compensation for writing about this absolutely pawsome book.
Nurturing the little kitten back to life, Denis gives us insight into the struggle we humans face as we are trying to prove ourselves right – especially when it involves the life of another being. He stays up all night, worrying about whether the kitten will survive. He questions whether he should have followed the vet’s advice, and had the cat put down. Wouldn’t that have eliminated unnecessary suffering?
While we read cat stories about felines weaving their paws into our heartstrings, we don’t find that many where the cat actually accompanies their human, almost wherever they go. We find Toby Jug planted on Denis’ shoulder, even when he’s driving. Toby Jug even goes on a couple of day camping trip with Denis after he agrees to horse-sit a fellow worker’s horse.
As a responsible pet person, Denis takes Toby Jug in to be neutered, and to his surprise the veterinary certificate lists the breed of animal as Black & White Long-Haired Maine Coon. This leads Denis to want to find out more about Toby Jug’s heritage.
In his research, he finds a picture of a cat that looks almost identical to Toby Jug. But the story goes beyond the research, he wants to find out who Mama cat was. At one of the local pubs, he finds out there is a woman who breeds pedigree cats in a near-by village. Upon visiting her, he finds Mama cat was her beloved Silver Maine Coon Bonny who had escaped the car on the way to a cat show. They had never found her. For a moment, Denis thinks he might have made a mistake as they might want to reclaim the kitten. They did not and were very happy to hear the rescue story, and the special bond that had developed from the rescue.
Throughout the story, we find Denis is always afraid that Toby Jar will wander off to be someplace else. Perhaps, the cat would prefer to return to his natural outdoor setting? Perhaps he would prefer to go live someplace else?
Cats become our best friends, as we rescue them & they rescue us
While Denis worries endlessly about his cat, he does let him roam the outside, and as cats do, each time they go out, they tend to venture a little further away. Mind you, this story is set back in the 1990’s, and not in the mid-2010’s. Life and attitudes were a bit different then. However, one thing doesn’t change, we always worry about the whereabouts of our furry friends when they are not in sight.
His worries pan out when he finds Toby Jug is being terrorized by a bunch of kids who are vandalizing a neighborhood with fireworks, even throwing them up into a tree, where the cat was clinging for dear life.
As horrendous as this story was, it leads into another equally harrowing story, but one allowing Denis to complete the story of Toby Jar’s heritage. In looking for his cat, he had discovered the mama cat that he’d tried to rescue had been a pedigreed Maine Coon. Ironically, a hunt leads to the discovery of Toby Jug’s dad, Black Bob.
Toby was always almost always there to meet Denis when he came home from work. One day, he wasn’t there. He didn’t come back that night. Denis goes everywhere looking for his cat, and pots a missing cat poster at the local post office. He is called by a local farmer who has found the cat, hiding in one of their byres. He had been spooked by the hunt, was covered with mud, and terrorized. Ironically, their Black Bob, who would drive any cat out, had taken a liking to this kitty. The story unfolds how Black Bob and Bonnie had gotten together and then, she disappeared.
Paw Prints in the Moonlight captures the story from this fateful January night of Toby Jug’s rescue through that entire first year, proving how cats become our best friends. We wish Denis would have shared more stories about years after. As Paws had seen Toby Jar’s gravestone underneath a favorite apple tree in the year, we were rushing though the end as we were convinced he would not make it through that first year. Turns out Toby Jar lived to be 12, and passed on from an incurable brain tumor.
Denis promised Toby Jar that he would write a story about their first year together. Despite many tries, the words did not come together until many years later. We’re glad they did. Paw Prints in the Moonlight may not be a story that’s in the headlines, but it should be, as it tells the uncanny connection between a human and his cat.
In the epilogue, we find Denis at a gathering in a pub on the rescue’s anniversary date, years after Toby Jug had passed on. A psychic was at the event. She asked Denis, do you have a special connection with a black and white Maine Coon cat? He was dumbfounded, saying yes. She replied, he’s sitting on your shoulder, like he always did. Denis commented time and time again, how his sweaters were getting tattered by Toby Jug clawing his way up to his shoulder, one of his favorite perches.
There are some great quotes in this book that makes us ponder about our lives. Paws wants to share a few from the book, in no particular order.
I think that animals tend to be much more accepting of human being than the other way around.
Who is the slave and who is the master in this relationship?
He might be a pet cat, but he has his own cat.
If for some reason I had to leave home without him on Saturday, he would be inconsolable and truly ‘miffed’ with me when I returned (as I belonged to him on Saturdays).
Every time we read a book, Paws always learns something. This story is so amazing because it tells how Denis completely incorporates Toby Jug into his every day life, from riding in the car, shopping, and going on a camping expedition on horseback. While we cat people can understand this, those that are not cat people don’t understand, and it is up to Denis and others to educate the general public just how special and healing cats (and all pets) are.
You may purchase your very own copy of Paw Prints in the Moonlight, and Paws hope you enjoy the extraordinary story as much as we did.
If you like this post, you might also like:
Evidence suggests cats help people cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Deborah Barnes: ‘Purr Prints of the Heart’ details a Cat’s tale of Life, Death and Beyond
Homer, The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat lives on, perhaps forever
Do you have a favorite cat book? Have you gotten insight from true stories about how cats have saved their humans? Do you have a story of how your cat has rescued you that you’d be willing to share? Please weigh in and leave your paw prints.
That really does sound good, we don’t read nearly enough but we’re working on it!
It’s hard to find time to read. Sometimes I have down time in my day job (or I should say night job) and I can take out a book and read. I used to read all the time when I was in high school. It’s been kind of nice to catch up on some of the classics (though I admit most of my reading is about cats, and I’ve been reading some of the cat classics). Gives additional insight into other people’s experience with cats.
That sounds like a wonderful book. My favorite cat series is Cleveland Amory’s The Cat Who Came for Christmas, and the two he wrote after that about his beloved cat, Polar Bear.
I’m glad you shared that. I sooo want to read that book, and it’s on my must read list. I was quite impressed with Paw Prints in the Moonlight. I wish I dared take my cats on an outside camping trip. I’d be terrified they would take off and I’d never see them again. Many purrs!