Inspirational Moments With Animal Lover, Actress, and Author Mariel Hemingway and an Opportunity to Write a Love Letter to Your Cat

Deb petting cat

I have always been fascinated by the Hemingway’s, as witnessed by me here petting one of the residing cats at Hemingway House in Key West.

When I am on the computer, I will have the TV on for some background noise. Normally I drown the chatter out while I am typing, but several weeks ago someone caught my attention when I heard her talking about why having a pet is so amazing and the unconditional love that they give to us. It happened to be Mariel Hemingway who is very close to my age and someone I had admired for many years as an actress, who is now an author and inspirational speaker.  She was a guest on the Jeff Probst Show talking about several projects she was working on, including her new book, The WillingWay, which is dedicated to personal empowerment and living life to its fullest. She was also sharing the love letters she had written to her beloved dogs, Tree and Bindu, that were published in the popular book, A Letter To My Dog.

For any of you that are familiar with the very famous Hemingway family, you know that Mariel has not always had an easy life and I immediately gravitated to the honest conversation she was sharing with Jeff about her difficult past, which included severe depression, and her now content place in time because I could see her transformational journey as my own. Mariel is a warm, happy, and confident woman whose personal triumph radiated though the television screen and she was absolutely glowing as she was discussing The WillingWay, which was written with her boyfriend Bobby Williams, athlete and nutrition expert, in which they ask this very simple question, “Is your life out of tune?”

Using that mindset, Mariel and Bobby inspire readers to create balance and joy by finding their own unique ways of living an amazing life and they give us the important  message that we are all extraordinary and  no matter where we are on this earth, that we have the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest, as happy and powerful beings!


Photo courtesy of A Letter To My Dog of Mariel with her beautiful dogs, Tree and Bindu.

I found the premise of The WillingWay and Mariel’s love of animals intoxicating and I felt compelled to reach out to her to let her know that her message touched me deeply. My own book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, is about the love I have for my cats and how they brought me out of a very dark time in my life and made me a better person for it. The entire mantra of the Chronicles is “to embrace the ordinary in life and make it extraordinary,” so clearly I wanted to let her know that I connected with her positive message.

I was pleasantly surprised to get an email back from one of Mariel’s associates, thanking me for my email and letting me know that Mariel was interested in reading Zee and Zoey’s book which was a very touching moment for me. I then received another email from the folks who published the A Letter To My Dog book who had heard about my email to Mariel and they contacted me to let me know a book was in the works for cats and that maybe I would be interested in submitting a letter about one of my cats for possible publication in the book and they also extended the invitation to you, my dear readers, if any of you are interested.


And before you decide one way or another, please be aware that this is not a paid writing assignment. This is an opportunity to share your own personal love letter to your cat with the possibility of being published in A Letter To My Cat along with some other famous and prominent individuals.  If your letter   is selected for publication, you would get the satisfaction of some really cool bragging rights as well as the knowledge a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit animals in need.

These are the guidelines – in 500 words or less, start your letter “Dear [name of cat(s)] and express what makes your relationship with them so special. Explore the love, joy, laughter and selflessness (or maybe selfishness) you have with them and sign it [Love, Mom…etc.].  A few photos of your cat(s) would also be required and you would need to provide your full name, mailing address, phone number, email address and any website/blog/social media info and direct it to for submission.

I think this is a great exercise even if you don’t want to participate – I always write a love letter to any of my animals that pass on to the Rainbow Bridge, as it helps me in the healing process. The concept for the book is different in that your cat can still be in your life. I tackled a letter for my beloved feline-mate, Zoey, and have to admit it is harder than I thought it would be. Finding the right 500 words or less to describe how much she means to me and how deeply my life has been affected because of her love and companionship is daunting to say the least.

Let’s just call it a work in progress – in the meantime, I thank A Letter To My Cat for reaching out to me and as a special treat from them, I was able to participate in a brief Q & A with Mariel and these are her answers which make me like her all the more!

Deb: Have you always had pets in your life and do you share any special bonds with cats?  

Mariel: I loved my cat Kitsy when I grew up, but he was super independent– which basically means he was being a cat. But the real bond I have with a cat is with the one I have now with MOW… he is pure white, a real hunter, he is strong, fierce and we love one another madly. Mow is super sweet…. he never scratches when we play, though if he wanted to he could really hurt me with his claws. I am simply CRAZY about this cat. He is smart and sassy… and I love him.

Deb: One of my favorite excerpts in your letter to Bindu is when you say, “You curled up next to my heart in the toughest of times.”  Just how important to our own health and well-being is the unconditional love we receive from our pets?

Mariel: I have always had pets, and they are SUPER important to me. They have seriously been by me through the tough times. Especially Bindu. He was always with me and curled up next to me even when I was truly suffering from depression and scared about how to take action to change my life. He had a look in his eyes that reassured me that everything would be okay, and somehow I believed him.

Thank you Mariel – to listen to her letter to Bindu, check out this great video!

One final note, CONCATULATIONS to Sue Brandes who is the winner of our Litter Genie giveaway drawing!! Happy scooping, Sue!

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  1. Ingrid King says:

    Wonderful post! The Willing Way is going on my TBR list for sure. I just love the photo of Mariel Hemingway with her dogs – the joy on her face is just beautiful!

    • Deb says:

      Ingrid – I thought of Purrs of Wisdom when I was researching The WillingWay and I think you would really connect with the book. And I agree, that photo of Mariel is just incredible!

  2. Great post Deb. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Sue Brandes says:

    Wonderful post. I have always admired Mariel. I love her letter to Bindu. I think it would be somewhat hard to get just the right down on paper. Love the idea of writing a love letter to your cat or dog. Wow I cannot believe I won! This is so awesome! Thank you so much. Responded to your email/

  4. Love this post and the idea of writing love letters to our pets. Good to see Mariel looking happy and well. I look forward to her book.

    • Deb says:

      Layla – the pain and heartache in Mariel’s life is legendary and I am so happy that she has been able to overcome the pain and is now thriving! She truly is an inspiration and I am thrilled for her.

  5. CATachresis says:

    Great post! Wasn’t Ernest H a cat man? It must run in the family! Am very tempted to write a letter to Austin, I have to say, but wouldn’t know where to start … or end lol. xx

    • Deb says:

      CATachresis – yes, Ernest Hemingway was the famous author and cat lover. The cat I am petting is one of the cats that currently lives on his property that has now become a museum in Key West. I think you should write a letter to Austin – I can only imagine just how witty and charming it would be!! xoxo

  6. Bernadette says:

    See what I miss by not having a television? But I’d rather read about it here! Yes, the Hemingway family is fraught with pain and suffering of the sort you can’t just decide to shove off. What an opportunity to talk with them and to present *Crhonicles*!

    • Deb says:

      Bernadette – you are so right about that sort of pain and suffering – unless you can confront and conquer it, it will always control you. I have truly enjoyed watching Mariel’s transformation and I am happy to have been able to share it with you!

  7. toni says:

    Wonderful post Deb….So exciting that you interviewed Mariel Hemingway!! I have always loved Mariel….such a beautiful spirit…and now I like her even more!!
    Funny that I too need the background noise as I work…could be from years of working with REALLY LOUD small children playing in gym. But I’ve noticed that I’m enjoying the quiet a little more with time.

    Again…thanks for sharing!!

    • Deb says:

      Toni – I find that I often turn off the noise altogether now too. I enjoy the quiet company of myself, with a cat or two on my lap or next to me!

  8. Brian says:

    That was a great post and she is a really nice human to love critters so much!

  9. Wonderful post! I know that Sweet Praline was my “soul kitty” because of all the trials we went through together those 15 years: divorce, getting a Ph.D., 13 surgeries over a 7 year period, losing a job, changing careers, etc. I don’t think I would have survived if she hadn’t been there. Now, I have the dessert sisters: Truffle and Brulee. I look forward to coming home each day and having them meet me at the door.

    • Deb says:

      Sweet Purrfections – I know how dear Sweet Praline was to you and she was such an important part of your life. I think you should write a letter to her – even if you don’t want to submit it to A Letter To My Cat, I still think it would be very therapeutic for you.

  10. What a great post! How nice that you were able to connect with Mariel. The mom is thinking of writing a letter, but she would have to decide which one of us she would write it to!

  11. Deb

    WOW i am blown away by your blog and these unbelievably kind comments. Thanks and hugs to ALL of you! My letter to Mow is good, if i do say so myself. 😀 Make sure you all write your letter to your cat… they are cats and they know and they will LOVE the attention!

    Blessings xo xo
    xo Mariel

    • Deb says:

      Mariel – thank you so much for dropping by to extend your kind words. I am so glad you enjoyed the post and I just really wanted you to know how much your own journey will inspire others to become happier and more fulfilled as people. The world is filled with too much stress and ugliness – your message is very much needed and I hope The WillingWay is a huge success.

      Thanks again for dropping by and I can’t wait to read you letter to Mow – he is a gorgeous kitty!!

  12. Oh Deb I loved this post! Thanks so much for sharing. I have always loved Mariel and like you, now I love her that much more. I must read that book. I might just write a letter too….if I feel better soon I will!

    • Deb says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Caren, and I agree with you – you just can’t help loving her all the more after learning about how much she has overcome. I hope you do write a letter and that you feel better soon! xoxox

  13. What a wonderful post – and how lovely that they’re writing a compilation of letters to our cats, as well!

  14. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    this is an excellent post Deb; and how awesome Mariel stopped by !! and what a great idea…writing a letter to your dog or cat….wonder if the tabbies could write one to the trout 🙂

    have an awesum monday and hugs to J =^..^=

  15. Our mom saw Mariel on a couple of the talk shows. It is so pawsome you were able to make a connection with her. Mom, really likes that letter idea and says she would like to write one to all of us here now and all that have gone to the RB just so she can reflect on all our special and unique qualities. She says she might write one about her beloved Madison to submit. We have promised not to be jealous. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette