My Cat Saved My Life

I have read (and even authored) many books that are labelled "a breakthrough". But this book is a breakthrough that awakens the deepest eureka in the reader. It is a momentous cat book, perhaps the best ever, yet it is beyond the category of cute. It is an astonishing memoir, yet it is beyond the category of profound. It is an interspecies love story for the 21st Century.

Beyond the innocence of Alice, the cat who awakens the sleeping innocence of her author, this book reveals the ability of another species to teach worldly experience to us (even as a mother cat's instinct is to teach her offspring). Alice turns her author into a mature student of the natural world and its embedded meanings about life and death.

And beyond nature, what is revealed to Phillip Schreibman is his alienation from the most essential dimension of his own life. Abandonment (in this case of a nonhuman), the deaths of his parents, his career as a composer, a midlife crisis -- there are the moving passages here that also inform other memoirs. But this book soars above them, until all the author's human crises are illuminated by what he comes to learn is a transforming and post-human strategy of life.

After the harrowing trials of the loss of meaning in his life, Phillip Schreibman returns to the rich life of his cat, Alice, as an equal in the global ecosystem. The two share the experience of turning their observation of the world into a bond of cross-species friendship -- filled with alternately sober and hilarious ruminations on the new frontier of biodiversity. This is a book for cat lovers, for sure, but it will also fill the hearts and minds of all creature lovers who worry about our future on the planet.

However, don't miss the philosophical power that underlies the title of this book. MY CAT SAVED MY LIFE might be subtitled: A Spiritual Memoir. It is a life story of the most adult kind, a record of the growth of an interior life. The inner transformation of Phillip Schreibman is matched by -- and married to -- the outer world of what we now call Earth's biosphere. And so, this pioneering book will appeal to all readers who are beginning to be aware of the global nature of our ecological crisis.

Foremost, MY CAT SAVED MY LIFE remains a book for anyone who has cared for a pet, yet it is a first of its kind. For it contains a record of a divine marriage -- man and cat -- that transcends the material nature of so many of our relationships. At first I was skeptical of the sentiment in the book's dedication: For Alice, Forever. Now I realize that "forever" is a perfect echo of the human marriage vow. In the end, Phillip faces the question of whether a soul exists, and he finds it confirmed in the nonhuman world that Alice draws him toward, breaking down his emotional distance. Alice the cat is a soulmate in the truest sense: together, the stories of Alice and Phillip offer a stunning critique of human nature.

-- David Rosenberg, bestselling author of The Book of J and the upcoming The Eden Revelation

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