Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America

Michael King's foster father, Walter, told a teenage Michael, "Anyone who's on the down-and-out heals himself with animals." Several decades later, Michael experiences that sentiment first hand when an injured, scrawny cat chances upon the homeless alcoholic and turns his world on its head.

British journalist and animal advocate Britt Collins compassionately tells Michael's story, taking readers through his rough childhood in Missouri to a devastating loss as a young adult that crushes his spirit and sends him in a downward spiral. A veteran of the streets in 2012, Michael is panhandling in Portland, Ore., when he meets the scared, helpless cat he names Tabor. Unable to find an owner, Michael continues to feed and care for the little feline. As Collins explains, "The homeless [have] a code of ethics--they always [take] care of their animals first." A bond between the two develops in no time.

When Michael travels south for the winter, Tabor--complete with collar and leash--goes as well. Their adventures take them camping, hitchhiking, to the ocean and face-to-face with a bear. Through it all, Michael's soul begins to heal. However, fate pulls the rug out from under Michael once again when he takes Tabor to the vet and discovers she's micro-chipped and has an owner looking for her.

This tender story of a damaged man who begins to heal and rediscover himself through the love of a cat is endearing and beautiful. Collins's astute understanding of the power of companion bonds makes Strays rich with emotion and charmingly satisfying. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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