Sometimes, inspiration can come from the most unexpected places – and best-selling author Beth Stern can attest to that. Earlier this year, Beth and her husband, radio and TV personality Howard Stern, adopted a shelter cat named Yoda. The feline had been given just a few months to live due to a heart condition, so the couple vowed to give him the best home possible for the duration of his life. But then, something completely unexpected happened – a story so compelling, it’s been turned into the children’s book Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens, hitting bookshelves today. Beth took time out to tell us about Yoda’s heartwarming story and the important cause that the book is benefiting.
This is your first children’s book. How was the process different from writing “Oh My Dog”?
This book most definitely was not planned! Something extraordinary was happening in our house with our newly adopted cat, Yoda, that needed to be shared. OH MY DOG was a labor of love that took 2 years from start to finish. Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens was pitched to Simon & Schuster on August 17th and is coming out on November 18th!
Also, I didn’t need to find an illustrator for OH MY DOG. That was the fun part! Working with the brilliant illustrator Devin Crane who captured our Yoda so perfectly was such a treat!
What inspired you to write this?
Yoda, our sweet Persian cat whom we adopted 6 months ago was diagnosed with a severe heart issue. He was given a life expectancy of 3-6 months and although it was extremely sad, we vowed to give him so much love and comfort in his remaining days. When my first foster litter came at the start of kitten season in May, I decided to let Yoda into the “foster room”. He immediately took charge and went to work! He started grooming each kitten, comforting them, sleeping with them, making sure they ate their food, and kept them in the foster room even if the door was open. He never left that room, and is still in there! Over the months he was busy with his kittens, his hair started to grow, and he had more energy and spunk than we ever expected. We took him to the vet for a check up a few months ago and the vet couldn’t believe that his heart sounded stronger than the last visit. Here we are 6 1/2 months later, and he is officially off of his heart meds and has no heart issue what-so-ever. The vets (I took him to 4 different ones because I couldn’t believe it) were amazed! I truly feel that “love and purpose” has healed his heart. This is a message that I thought was so powerful and needed to be shared. And a children’s book just seemed to be the perfect way to do this.
By telling Yoda’s story, do you hope to change the perception of shelter animals?
Yes, of course. My husband and I have adopted 6 cats and a few are special needs ones, including a blind cat named Bella. Rescuing any animal is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced. I tell everyone to try it and they’ll know the feeling I’m talking about. Yoda is a miracle. I rescued him and now he’s fulfilling his life’s purpose. He’s helping me save more lives. I also love to tell people that when you adopt an animal, you are saving 2 lives: the one you’re adopting and you are freeing up space for another to be rescued. Such a beautiful feeling knowing you can help save lives!
What was the most rewarding part of writing this book?
Sharing Yoda with children. He’s become very popular on my Instagram and he seems to touch everyone who sees a picture of him and knows his story. I walked down the street today and someone yelled from their car, “Hope Yoda is feeling better!” He has such an important message to share.
The proceeds of this book will be donated to North Shore Animal League, who you are also a spokesperson for. Can you tell our readers a little about the “Bianca’s Furry Friends” Feline Adoption Center campaign, which the book sales will benefit?
100% of my proceeds will go the largest expansion in NSALA’s history. We are on target to break ground next spring of a 15,000 square foot expansion that will provide a cage-free environment for the felines as well as a Wellness Center for them. My dream was to create a “home away from home” atmosphere for felines while they are waiting for families to adopt them. The large, open rooms will provide sunlight and ventilation and space and an environment where they will thrive. And this addition will free up the downstairs that housed the cats previously to allow for more puppy mill and adult dog rescues. It’s a win/win for dogs and cats! And we are naming it Bianca’s Furry Friends after our beloved bulldog who passed away 2 years ago.
You and your husband have always been vocal about your shared love of animals. Do you hope that your profile will encourage people to foster pets that may not have considered it otherwise?
I truly believe it already has. In fact, I know it has.
Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens is available wherever books are sold – 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Bianca’s Furry Friends, to help more cats just like Yoda!