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Gifts From a Feral Cat
Tian Wilson, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

The author and her two cats move to a tiny farming community in NM. She is befriended by elder neighbors, a Navajo man, and a local doctor. A feral cat shows up one day and transforms all their lives through the life lessons he demonstrates. Her painfully shy cat, stunted from birth, becomes the feral cat's friend and miraculously changes physically. Through conversations about and experiences with the cats, the author is also transformed and healed. Every person and cat in the book grows into greater consciousness about the beauty of life, community, and the power of love.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Wilson presents an engaging and surprisingly true story of the bond between humans and animals, centered on her self-described "miraculous" experiences with a feral cat. The narrative will engross readers and capture hearts and minds alike. 

Prose: Gifts from a Feral Cat is refined and polished, reinforced by Wilson's expressive, metaphoric prose. The writing carries readers into a magical world of hushed splendor and bucolic dreams, where animals and humans come together to spark miracles.

Originality: This is a rare, heartwarming story that readers will drink in; its premise is distinct, and the feline protagonist makes this work truly stand out.

Character/Execution: Wilson's skill with characterization is all the more impressive given the narrative's central lead is a cat. She does a beautiful job of merging reality with the unexpected, rendering an unforgettable narrative arc. 

Date Submitted: October 10, 2023

Part memoir, part spiritual self-help guide, life coach Wilson’s debut offers a profoundly emotional and sometimes heartbreaking foray into the healing power of one feral cat. After a gloomy divorce, Wilson moves to an adobe house in the idyllic heart of the Rio Grande Basin in New Mexico, living quietly and alone with her cats Deirdre, a protective ginger tabby, and gray Cochon, speechless and timid. She becomes friends with her neighbors, elderly Gus and Emma, who after 40 years still mourn the death of their teenage son; Diné (Navajo) teacher Jake; and generous physician turned veterinarian Doc Parsons. To give back to the community, Wilson invites the homeless and fractured to share Thanksgiving dinner. One Thanksgiving night in 1989, a large black feral cat shows up on her deck, scarred with a torn ear and enormous head. When she decides to feed it, her world of wonder, love, and optimism blossoms.

Wilson’s elegant words flow effortlessly, smooth and silky, whether she’s describing the vibrant colors of the New Mexico landscape or the ways the cat becomes a messenger of love and a catalyst for redemption. Named Michael Sabio (that’s Spanish for “wise”) Jordan, or MJ, for the basketball star’s feline gracefulness, the cat changes the lives of not only the small community, but of Deirdre and Cochon, coaxing shy Cochon out of his shell. Wilson weaves into the uplifting story nuggets of MJ-inspired wisdom: “All relationships take nurturin’ if they’re gonna survive” and “All living things change when they’re loved.”

Drawing on her personal experiences and observations from MJ’s positive influence, Wilson opens the minds of animal lovers, worriers, mourners, and dreamers. “In a world where proof is required to believe, I experienced the unbelievable,” she says. Gifts from a Feral Cat is a poignant and insightful healing journey that inspires.

Takeaway: Enchanting tale of a feral cat and love, redemption, and wisdom.

Comparable Titles: Gwen Cooper’s Homer’s Odyssey, Vicki Myron’s Dewey’s Nine Lives.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A