The Extraordinary Exploits of Irvin, the Handicapped Cat

A Book for All Ages

J. Lynn Hughes

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-238-1, 126 pp., 30 illus., 5.5 x 8.5, paperback, $14.95

The Extraordinary Exploits of Irvin, the Handicapped Cat is the story of the meanderings of a scruffy, but charming "moldy old soul"--an abandoned alley cat. Irvin tries to survive in a hostile world coping with and solving intricate problems through clever, improvisational solutions. Along the way he acquires a variety of unusual acquaintances and friends.

Irvin doesn't manage the joys and heartaches of true love quite so well. His love is the exquisite, and at times intimidating, black stray, Shaday. His unique feline heart, filled with godly compassion, won’t let Irvin harm any innocent living creature, not even the humblest of sparrows, not even on the chilliest, hungriest of days.

The Extraordinary Exploits of Irvin, the Handicapped Cat is an extraordinary/ordinary tale. It deals mostly with everyday life, but in the last chapter, even such a mundane object as a small sofa brings about a miracle.

In due course Irvin is adopted into the perfect, permanent home, the strength of his youth returns to his limbs, and he discovers that, even missing his right back leg, he can jump again.

However, what means the most to Irvin, after loving, losing, and locating Shaday again, is to finally learn that she has always loved him, too, from the moment that they met.


"Irvin the Handicapped Cat is delightful! He is a cat with strong spiritual values who lives a life of adversity on the streets. Finding good in others and in unusual situations and never liking to live with prejudice, Irvin is a memorable and gentle guide who touches my heart. The author has introduced us to an unforgettable character. Hope permeates his story--and always love." Janice Gray Kolb, author of Compassion for All Creatures

"You too will fall in love with Irvin, the homeless and utterly compassionate three-legged cat. What reader will ever forget, for example, how when Irvin saves his lady-love from a research lab, he turns to the other caged creatures to apologize for not being able to save them too! It is a sweetheart of a tale!" Steve Kowit, poet and essayist

"This is a fanciful, heartfelt allegory which anyone would enjoy. Ideal for older children." Virginia Torres, teacher

"A delightful book. J. Lynn Hughes' evocative descriptions of Irvin's travels allow the reader to see and hear the cats, birds, and people he meets and the landscapes through which he wanders. A story told with whimsical charm." David Briggs, export specialist

"An unforgettable tale that follows our hero Irvin through a series of adventures with a cast of interesting characters, that provides a perfect backdrop for Irvin’s spiritual development, bravery, and compassion. Irvin’s story is a tale that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages." Darrel Crain, chiropractor and journalist

"Something of a roman a clef, readers residing near J. Lynn Hughes 'The Neighborhood' will have a fun time recognizing the familiar haunts of this episodic little book." John Deaderick, actor, director, drama professor

A View from England: "As the collective mind-set of mankind is locked into an eternal struggle between good and evil, triumphs of the former will need to be told for all time, and from fresh springs. If the agency be anthropomorphic and disadvantaged felines, as in this instance, all well and good. Irvin will appeal, especially as bedtime reading to children. Each anecdote is neatly resolved for a series of short readings, and the concluding chapter should exercise the imagination. Parents might well be advised to prepare themselves for some big 'why?' questions." Trevor Burlinson, retired railway operator

Table of Contents

1. Foraging for Food
2. Meeting Shaday
3. Old Man Woosy
4. Shaday Is Missing
5. News of Shaday
6. Shaday at the Pound
7. In the Science Lab
8. Escape
9. Shaday Finds a Family
10. Discovering St. Joseph’s Garden
11. St. Joseph’s Garden
12. Irvin Catches a Vandal
13. Lucky Seven Toes
14. Alice
15. Irvin Proves a Hero
16. On the Ridge
17. An Incident with a Badger
18. Irvin on Stage
19. Irvin Prevents Gang War
20. Home


With a shake of her near-frozen feathers, a tiny sparrow alit on the city sidewalk, hoping to find a seed or crumb of bread leftover from some beneficent bird lover’s offering.

Snap went the paw of a cat! How carefully he had been stalking the bird.

The sparrow shivered with terror. Being caught in the cat’s clutches, itself, was horror enough, but the feel of those long, slick, sharp, menacing claws insidiously imprisoning her precious, fragile wings was all but driving the sparrow insane.

The feline brought the little bird closer and closer to his gaping, toothy mouth.

The sparrow knew she was a goner.

To her surprise, however, the cat sat her back down on the cement, then released her saying, “Poor kid, you’re even scrawnier and colder than I am. It would be bad karma to eat you in spite of my being pretty well starved. Take a hike, now, before I change my mind. Go on, vamoose! Amscray! Scram!”

The sparrow, too shocked to even twitter her thanks, flew off quickly into the icy winter sky.

Irvin, the cat, had not always been handicapped. He had not always lived on the street. Once he had a home like many other well-fed, pampered pussycats.

Now, when it rained and he was forced to go days with nothing to eat and no place to sleep, Irvin remembered the bright red bowl that was always full of crunchy cat food and the soft bed he once regularly slept in with his family, usually snuggled close to the little man-human’s chest.

Irvin shook his head to clear the cobwebs. That was a long time ago. Sure, he had fallen on hard times, but today was today and here he was wasting the only moment that really counted—now, moody, mopey, and listless.

He stretched his three frozen limbs and tried to stamp a little to get the blood flowing. The front, left stump, where his leg used to be, no longer hurt. Not even the scar. But it was still a nuisance to walk on just three legs.

He turned his head slightly to get a clearer view out of his good right eye. He had lost the left one to a Doberman Pincher. It was odd. Sometimes in cold weather he felt phantom pain in the small nub where his tail had been cut off.

To Irvin, his tail had been sacred—almost as sacred as his soul. He used his tail to express his ideas, not only to others, but also when he was talking to himself. Irvin could thump his tail or wiggle it or curl it or stick it straight up, up to the sky for emphasis. Alas, no more. The horrible accident had seen to that forever.

Thinking back, Irvin recalled that his tail was not only useful for expression, but it helped him to balance when he walked. His tail gave him agility and grace. Irvin heaved a sigh…. How proudly he had put one velvet paw in front of the other, in those former days, with his long, black, glorious tail waving slightly aloft behind him.

Irvin sighed again. At least he’d been left alive and could still get around and enjoy the simple pleasures that his Maker and smelly life provided from day to day.

Irvin gazed at his reflection in a piece of shattered mirror. He flashed what was left of his broken yellow teeth. It was getting harder and harder to chew with them....

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2009

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