Sunday, April 29, 2012
Book #6: Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean by Jackson Galaxy
I know what you're thinking. Another cat book? Well, yes, but it's so much more than that. Jackson Galaxy is a cat behaviorist with his own show on Animal Planet, My Cat From Hell. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I watch it religiously and my husband even makes sure that we're at home on Saturday evenings to catch new episodes.
Mr. Galaxy's book, Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean is the story of Benny, a very special cat in his life. Of course, Mr. Galaxy can't share Benny's story without sharing his own story. His story is one that includes multiple addictions, working in a shelter, and pulling out of darkness. Benny's story is one of a broken cat, but not beyond hope. These two souls came together and a bond was formed. Benny has since passed away, but Mr. Galaxy promised him he would tell his story. That's what this book is-a promise kept.
I was lucky enough to get to interview Mr. Galaxy after reading his book. I was a nervous wreck waiting for his call. I was absolutely star struck-this was the tattooed cat man that I watched work his magic every week. And he had my phone number! (Insert high-pitched squeal here.)
The first thing I wanted to know about was what Mr. Galaxy described as "ridding." When Benny passed away, he cleared out all of his things from his bed to his cat food container. Mr. Galaxy explained to me that it was all part of a ritual. It's a ritual to walk through the grieving process and we all have rituals that we perform. He also said, "I'm a ridder, a Gypsy. We get rid of stuff."
I wondered how he could let go of all of those mementos, but after hearing him say it in his own words, I now realize that it's just his way of dealing with death. We all grieve differently, this is his way.
I mentioned Mr. Galaxy's tattoos. Being a fan of tattoos, cattoos in particular, I asked if he had a tattoo in honor of Benny. He told me that he did not have one yet, but it will be coming soon. When he's in Boulder on the book tour, he's going to see the tattoo artist who has done some of his previous work. He will then get his Benny tattoo and will use the picture included on the back flap of the book cover as a model. He's not sure where on his body it will go though.
Speaking of pictures, I wanted to know why there were no pictures in the book. Mr. Galaxy is very descriptive of his own appearance. At one point he had multi-colored dreadlocks. I would love to have seen that! He also writes about being 400 pounds at one point in his life. He told me that there really aren't that many pictures of him and that he's a bit camera shy. He says that many pictures he has been in, he has given away to other people.
I was most struck by Mr. Galaxy's addictions. I described it as a "cocktail" of drugs and alcohol. He said yes and that he was a "kitchen sink addict." Between street drugs, alcohol, and Klonopin, you would think somebody wouldn't be able to get through a day standing up, but Mr. Galaxy was able to perform his job and fulfill his responsibilities. He was a high-functioning addict. I asked him how long he has now been sober and he told me that his ninth birthday is approaching quickly-May 16th.
It wasn't just drugs and alcohol he was addicted to, however. He was also addicted to food and had been a smoker since he was a teenager. Needless to say, getting clean from drugs and alcohol wasn't all he needed to save his health. He ended up undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Then, after smoking for most of his life, he gave up cigarettes a year and a half ago.
I asked him about the food addiction, specifically and if that was still a struggle for him. He told me that it wasn't about vanity, but it was about having the health and energy to keep helping the cats. He said that he wasn't going to risk any of that for a momentary escape. He also added that he "gives a shit" about himself now. He explained that he's moving away from a meat based diet and feels much better now physically, plus he feels that he is eating more responsibly.
Whether you are a cat lover or not, this book is worth reading. You get to follow a man make his way through challenges and learn to live in order to make the world a better place for someone else. It's also quite motivating that someone can become an expert on a subject not because they went to college, but because they studied the subject first hand.
If you are a cat lover, check out Jackson Galaxy on TV and on the web. He has amazing insights into cat behavior even if you don't have a hellish cat.
I hope to be lucky enough to catch him on his book tour (hopefully Kansas City will be added to the list!) to see his new Benny tattoo in person.