Coping With Pet Loss and Grief: Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond by Deborah Barnes


A concept that began as a rough draft around October of 2013 officially becomes a book about a year and a half later…

In the roller coaster journey of writing Purr Prints of the Heart – A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death, and Beyond, a meow-memoir written in the voice of my dearly departed Ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz, who I had to help cross over the Bridge on August 28, 2013, after 15 years of life, it turns out writing the book was the easy part. In the world of self-publishing where the landscape changes quicker than what is the most current iPhone available, it is a convoluted, painstakingly arduous ordeal that is not for the weak of heart.

Much of it is my own fault. At my very core I am a stubborn bull and I brought it all upon myself. Design the book cover on my own, despite that I have no graphic training. Sure, why not. Format the interior from a word program and convert it to a print ready pdf file with photos – sounds simple enough. Learn html code for electronic formatting – bring it on. I only have a full-time job to pay the bills, a blog to manage, and a household to help maintain, so clearly I have lots of free time to learn all this stuff.


I had not initially set out to write a book about the life and death journey of Mr. Jazz, but after receiving an enormous outpouring of love and support from people after Jazz died, I wanted to share his story to help others process their own grief. Seen here I am in the early stages of writing with my buddy Kizmet who was with me nearly every step of the way.


Here I was a year later – the book is nearing completion. Helping me with the editing is Jazmine (who is named after Jazz) and my step-daughter, Jackie.


In the very room where I was with Mr. Jazz during his final moments as I put the finishing touches on the book before I begin the arduous process of converting files, uploading images, and learning how to code for electronic publishing.

Sigh. All of the above was a battle worthy of a book in and of itself. But, guess what, I did it. And along the way I learned a lot. The next book will be much easier. And despite not sleeping for practically two years and nearly losing my sanity, two things highly overrated, I have so much to be grateful for because while the book was very hard for me to write in the beginning, as I had to relive my last moments with Jazz over and over, eventually it became cathartic and at some watershed point an enormous peace overcame me and I was able to free myself from the burden of pain I was carrying at his loss for so long. He was gone, but only in the physical sense. His memories were going to always be a part of me and I could finally accept that.


Hanging out with Mr. Jazz and learning from him to enjoy the simple moments of life. Also seen sharing the couch with me is Zee, my angel Harley, and Zoey.

I also had such a wonderful core of support encouraging me along the way– from Dan and my family members – to those that provided testimonials for me: Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat; Caren Gittleman of Cat Chat With Caren and Cody; Alice Villalobos, DVM; Amy Shojai, CABC, author and a founder of the Cat Writers’ Association; Layla Morgan-Wilde, of Cat Wisdom 101; Angie Bailey of Catladyland; Robert Hudson of Pet Radio; Bernadette E. Kazmarski of The Creative Cat; Susan Logan-McCracken of Cat Fancy magazine; Charmaine Hammond, best-selling author and professional speaker; Christine Michaels, founder of Pawsitively Humane; Bonnie Poirier, pastor at Ministry of St. Francis of Assisi; and Joanne McGonagle of The Tiniest Tiger; as well as a special foreword from Steve Dale, CABC, syndicated radio host, and syndicated newspaper columnist.

I was given the opportunity the other day to speak with one of my endorsers, Charmaine Hammond, about Purr Prints on her Team Toby PAWsitive Radio show (please click here to listen to the recording) and I found the discussion fascinating because it was the first interview I had since publishing the book and I was genuinely pleased and surprised with how much she got out of the book.

I had initially envisioned the book would be used as a story to help people process feelings of pain and loss, but it turns out it was so much more – the secondary plot of the book is a sweet, charming, humorous, and uplifting story of a cat and how he interpreted the many facets of his everyday, ordinary life living with an ever-changing family of humans, other felines, and canines, addressing such issues as what it was like to be a sickly kitten that nobody wanted; how he initially learned what the Rainbow Bridge was from his cat mentor, Kit; and how he felt the last months of his life as he was dying and his human, me, was trying to prolong his life.

This image (circa 2005) taken from the book was one of Jazz with Harley, Bandit, and Kit during the renovation phase of our house. To have him describe the ordeal in cat logic was quite enlightening.

My favorite point Charmaine made, was that she really loved how Mr. Jazz was able to take something complex – life – and make it simple. And truthfully, isn’t that what our cats do? They intuitively seem to understand life is too short to waste with minutia and they live in the moment. Us humans, we have a tendency to clutter everything with our emotions, opinions, baggage and everything else imaginable. A cat sees a sun puddle and they go to it to nap. No debate or struggling with the decision. Another cat annoys them – swat – move on and it’s over. Next.

I loved that Charmaine got that out of the book. And don’t get me wrong. I can assure you that as a cat, Mr. Jazz wrote with great dignity, aplomb, and expertise. He may have been able to quickly cut to the chase of whatever matter was going on at the moment, but he was not simple in the sense that he was not wise.

The very core of Purr Prints is the story of a cat that teaches his humans lessons about life, death, and letting a pet go with beauty and dignity. Purr Prints is a timeless book for all ages and a multitude of circumstances. It is meant as a gentle hug to help heal broken hearts and is the perfect gift to give someone who has lost a pet and is struggling with how to make sense of it all.


February 26, 2015 – this was the day I received the first draft copy of the book in print form – it was an overwhelming moment for me to say the least!


Purr Prints is all set and ready to go! I am seen here in my kitchen where the formal process of autographing and packaging takes place!

If you would like a copy of Purr Prints for your feline library or know someone who would appreciate this book, please visit for details, including information on how to get an autographed copy with a gift wrap sleeve and custom bookmark. And please keep in mind that even though a cat wrote book, the story is one that has a universal message for anyone who has loved and lost a pet of any species. There is also a useful “Coping with Pet Loss Guide” that is full of resources, information, suggestions, and insight on the subject of grieving and pet loss.


This sentimental sympathy card can be found at Zee & Zoey’s Zazzle Boutique. Click image to be directed to the shop.

If you would like to learn more about Purr Prints, please take a look at this comprehensive list of reviews.

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  1. Ingrid King says:

    I enjoyed getting a look at your process of creating this wonderful book. I have a feeling that you’re not the only one who feels a sense of accomplishment after bringing the book to life – I think Mr. Jazz is quite pleased, too. 🙂 Give beautiful Jazmine a scratch behind the ears from me!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Ingrid – I truly appreciate you being a part of the book’s journey – and thank you again for being the one who pointed Jazmine out to Dan and I at the Global Pet Expo! A moment that forever changed the course of our life!!

  2. Brian says:

    We think you are pretty darn amazing and there was no doubt that you would conquer the challenges and create a masterpiece!

  3. Ellen Pilch says:

    This sounds like an amazing book. Kuddos to you for learning html code and designing the cover too.

  4. Amazing ! We hope your book is a huge success ! Angel Mr. Jazz can be proud of his talented mom ! Purrs

  5. Glorimar says:

    What a wonderful journey. It never gets easy, no matter how many times you have to say goodbye. Thank you so much for sharing the process. Can’t wait to read the book. As a graphic designer I have to say, you got it girl!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by to comment, Glorimar. I really appreciate your sentiment and thank you so much for the compliment on the cover!! 🙂

  6. Flynn says:

    It sounds like a beautiful book, and I hope it is a great success.

  7. Sue Brandes says:

    Sounds like a very heartwarming book. Love the cover.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Sue – the cover makes me smile when I see it and helps me to remember my beloved Jazz each and every time I see it.

  8. Congrats on your book. We hope it’s a huge success for you. 🙂

  9. JaneA says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your creative process — and for sharing the book with me. It was a huge help to read as I prepared for the passing of my beloved Siouxsie Mew.

    • Deb says:

      You are so very welcome JaneA. I do wish the circumstances were different and I could rewind the clock for you and Siouxsie, but that is just life. We have to let go and it is never easy. My heart is with you and I am comforted to know that in some small way, that Mr. Jazz and I were there to help you. xoxo

  10. Glogirly says:

    Congratulations on such a meaningful accomplishment. We suspect Mr. Jazz is beaming with pride and love.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Glogirly – I suspect you are right. I feel him near me all the time and that gives me so much comfort and faith.

  11. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    Deb; I enjoyed the radio show interview and I wish you nothing but success with Purr Prints;
    may the sales exceed your greatest expectations. Your book definitely hits upon a topic all pet
    parents can relate to regardless if they are owned by a cat, dog, pony, rabbit…etc. I have a copy of
    Purr Prints and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is so much more than a book about grief and I hope
    those who read it come away with a sense of not only closure for their own pet(s) they may have lost
    but the ability to “see” how our pets view the world about them. Kudos to you on being able to
    portray Jazz’s perspective; you did an awesome job…I know dood Jazz is very very proud of his mom
    ♥♥♥ Laura

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so much Laura. Clearly you understand the nature of the book and I can’t thank you enough for sharing the journey with me. Your support means the world to me and I know Jazz and Sauce are purring from above!

  12. I’ve been reading the hardcopy late at night during a crazy stessful time and it confimed my love of paper and ink books. Reading in bed is how I unwind and revisited your life with Jazz et al. was more joyful than tearful this time around. You get Brownie points for doing all the formatting etc. OMG, HTML code, we must discuss over a cocktail!
    <3 and purrs for much success!

    • Deb says:

      I agree Layla. While I acquiesced to my aversion of electronic formats and did publish for Kindle, etc., I always prefer a real book that can be touched, absorbed, and treasured in full. I am glad to know you were able to read the story and have it bring you joy this time – in many ways the book is a transition and it will stir different emotions at different times.

  13. Ms. Phoebe's Mum & family says:

    Your first book is one of my most cherished ones in my cat library and I cannot wait to add this one to the collection. I look forward to reading this one for the subject matter is still something I am going through even though my Phoebe left us over a year and a half ago. Your devotion and bond with your fur kids is evident in your blog posts and photos Deb, thank you for sharing your love of them with the world. It is refreshing to see a ‘cat lady’ who embodies intelligence, grace, and humanity for once and none of the usual stereotypes the public often associates with cat lovers. You are someone greatly admired and I for one am honored to know you.

    • Deb says:

      Ms. Phoebe’s Mum and family – what a gracious compliment. Thank you so much – despite the cat ears, I do try to represent us cat ladies with due respect and appreciate you acknowledging that I do! I know you have had a rough time with the loss of your precious Phoebe… it truly never is easy to say goodbye, but as Jazz will gently let you know in Purr Prints, at some point the pain will fade to be replaced with the warm and peaceful memories of those that are gone in the physical sense, but never gone from our hearts. xoxo

  14. Carolyn says:

    I have just downloaded onto my kindle! I’m not sure whether that might have been a mistake as the print copy is probably a work of art, if your first book is anything to go by! Maybe I will get both! Am very much looking forward to reading it, Deb. Well done on your tenacity and diligence in getting it produced. Just listening to your interview with Pawsitive radio, now 🙂 xx

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so much for purchasing the book, Carolyn. I personally always prefer a print copy and to this day do not own any electronic reading devices! I am still very stubborn in that regard when it comes to reading books! That said, Purr Prints is a different format from the first book – the photos are all black and white and it is not design driven, so you are not “missing” anything in that sense! I hope you like the book – I think you will appreciate the wise and wry voice of Mr. Jazz. xoxox

  15. I’m so excited about this publication, Deb. You worked tirelessly and it truly is a wonderful way to meow-moralize Mr. Jazz. I look forward to getting my copy and reading! I’m sure he is so proud of you. Peace.