Book review: ‘Gifts From a Feral Cat’

Cover of the book, "Gifts From a Feral Cat: A Story of Love, Loss, and Miracles"
In this gentle and wise tale, a woman and her neighbors find their lives transformed by a senior cat in their small New Mexico community.
By Sally Rosenthal

Gifts From a Feral Cat: A Story of Love, Loss, and Miracles by Tian Wilson. Good Guest Publishing, 2022. Softcover, 250 pages.

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Books come my way. Many, many books come my way. That’s one of the joys of being a book reviewer; I am never at a loss for something to read. Each week, I receive new animal-themed novels; memoirs of lives lived well with a cherished cat, dog, and even occasionally donkey; or guides to coping with pet loss, separation anxiety, or multi-species households.

Although I don’t have to go looking for books to review, I do find myself — like other book lovers — sometimes searching the internet for yet one more book in the wee hours of the morning. That is how I came across Gifts From a Feral Cat: Lessons in Love, Loss, and Miracles by Tian Wilson. Not only did I find a deeply moving memoir to share with readers when I happened upon Tian’s book, but I also discovered — hands down — the best community cat story I have ever read.

Following a divorce, Tian, along with her two feline family members, relocated to a small, semi-rural community in New Mexico. Drawn by the landscape and underlying mysticism of the Southwest, the author settled into her new home unaware that a new feline would soon become one of her greatest teachers.

When an elderly, scraggly black cat appeared, Tian began feeding him, eventually bringing him as much as possible into the family fold. As she did so, she noticed a transformation in her house cats’ behavior, one of whom grew in stature and confidence through his association with MJ, as the new cat was named.

MJ’s positive effect, however, was not limited to his own species. Over the year chronicled in the book, Tian and her close-knit circle of neighbors and friends all came to realize profound changes in their lives brought about by their acquaintance with MJ.

To offer more details and to delve into the meaning of the memoir’s ending would spoil readers’ experience of this examination of how miracles can come from unlikely sources. I dare anyone to walk away after reading Gifts From a Feral Cat without being awestruck by the power of love and connection.

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