printed copy

Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family

Helen Brown

ISBN 9780806533032
Publish Date 8/31/2010
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Memoirs, Citadel

“We’re just going to look.” Helen Brown had no intention of adopting a pet when she brought her sons, Sam and Rob, to visit a friend’s new kittens. But the runt of the litter was irresistible, with her overlarge ears and dainty chin.

When Cleo was delivered weeks later, she had no way of knowing that her new family had just been hit by a tragedy. Helen was sure she couldn’t keep her—until she saw something she thought had vanished from the earth forever: her son’s smile. The reckless, rambunctious kitten stayed.

Through happiness and heartbreak, changes and new beginnings, Cleo turned out to be the unlikely glue that affectionately held Helen’s family together. Rich in wisdom, wit, heart, and healing, here is the story of a cat with an extraordinary gift for knowing just where she was needed most.

“A remarkable memoir…I realized that Helen Brown didn’t break my heart at all—she opened it.” —Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

“An absolute must.” —Cat World

“The next Marley & Me. Even non cat-lovers will be moved.” —Good Housekeeping

About Helen Brown:

Helen Brown was born and brought up in New Zealand, where she first worked as a journalist, TV presenter, and scriptwriter. A multi award winning columnist, Helen now lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her family and feline, the internationally beloved Jonah. Cleo rose to the top of the bestseller lists in its first weeks in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, and Australia, and has been translated into more than sixteen languages. Cats & Daughters entertained her readers with publication in six countries, and her novel Tumbledown Manor showed her storytelling talents at their best. You are invited to visit Helen at and follow her on Facebook.

The author will donate a portion of her earnings from this book to BideaWee animal shelter and hospital. Learn what you can do to help at

Photo Credit: James Braund

Average Customer Review

Based on 1 review

Customer Review

An incredible cat and the family that loved her (Tuesday, July 13, 2010)
Reviewer: Crazy Cat Lady

Helen Brown KNEW that she and her husband weren't cat people. She also knew that taking her sons to visit a friend's new litter of kittens was probably a mistake, but that didn't stop her from going. When her sons Sam and Rob fell for the runt of the litter, a tiny black kitten with a disproportionate face and sparse fur, she tried valiantly to be resolute. What on Earth would Rata, their aging Golden Retriever, think about a feline interloper joining the household?

When her older son Sam asked to have the kitten as a birthday present, however, even agreeing to wait long past his actual birthday until the kitten was old enough to leave its mother, her resolve crumbled. Against her better judgement but tugging on her heartstrings, the scrawny black ball of fluff was going to join their family. Sam decided to name her Cleopatra, or Cleo for short.

While waiting for Cleo to grow enough to join their family, the Browns continued to live life one day at a time, blithely ignorant of the tragedy that was to befall them just weeks after they saw Cleo for the first time. What happened in the blink of an eye would alter the course of their lives forever after, and only Cleo's arrival breaks their despondency and sets them back on the course of life.

Through trials and truimphs, family additions and subtractions, and household changes in configuration and location, Cleo weaves herself into the heart and soul of the family. The story of her life and those who love her make up the balance of this story, and without revealing spoilers, I really can't divulge more details.

This was a very emotional, engaging memoir. I enjoyed reading it tremendously, and being a mother and cat owner myself , I was able to identify with the author in several instances. I laughed, I sighed, and I even shed a few silent tears in appropriate places. Cleo's story is a family story of life, love, and the neverending pursuit of happiness that every family experiences every single day.

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