Oh, Henry

Diane Bell Column
December 9, 2006

Henry, the three-legged San Diego cat who has written two books and responds to e-mails à la “Dear Abby,” continues to do good deeds.

After the talented tabby was mentioned in last Saturday's column, his co-caretaker and ghostwriter, Cathy Conheim, received more than 300 e-mails. One was from a woman who was taking care of a kitten maimed by a coyote. Like Henry, he had lost one of his nine lives and one of his four legs.
When Conheim saw a photo of the brown tabby, now named Lefty, she was stunned. He could have been Henry's twin. In no time, she found a home for the rescued kitten with BJ Gallagher, who helped write Henry's second book, What's the Matter With Henry.

A heart-tugging e-mail also came from a 62-year-old woman who had lost her home and business three years ago in the Cedar fire. She had been unable to find a job since and was struggling to pay rent and care for her cats in a small Lakeside apartment. “Dear Henry,” she wrote, “I don't know where else to turn. Maybe you could help me know what to do . . . ”

After a series of e-mail exchanges, it turned out that the mystery lady had briefly lived next to Conheim's vacation home in Julian. Henry's mom had only met her once and had wondered what had become of her after the house had burned.

Writing as Henry, Conheim – a psychotherapist by trade – suggested that the woman market her computer skills by giving lessons and teaching people to use eBay. Conheim then sent her the profit from $2,700 worth of Henry's books sold just this week. After all, Henry dedicates all his profits to helping animals and people in need. The reply was heartwarming: “How can I ever thank you? This check buys me a breather, and I slept well last night for the first time in quite awhile.”

When she chose to name the rescued tabby “Henry,” Conheim had no idea that St. Henry was the patron saint of the handicapped. But Henry certainly has lived up to his name with the people helped online and through book profits.