Henry, The Three-Legged Cat, Is Inspiration To All


Henry is a hard working cat. He has published two books and replied to more than 20,000 letters. This three-legged cat is an example to thousands of people around the nation.

But Henry always didn’t have the life. This inspiring cat used to be homeless. After Southern California’s 2003 Cedar Fires, Henry ended up on the doorsteps of an unscorched home where a displaced family was staying. The family took the stray cat in. All was well until one day when Henry wandered out. He came back with one of his front legs crushed.

The family could not afford the medical bills, so the home’s owner, Cathy Conheim, had the responsibility of taking the cat to the animal hospital. The veterinarian gave Conheim two choices: euthanize Henry or amputate the limb and see how he recovers.

Conheim, a psychotherapist, was not a fan of cats. In fact, she hated them ever since she was a child. She began to despise them when she saw the neighborhood cats chase or attack the birds outside her home. For 60 years, Conheim simply didn’t want to do anything with cats.

Outside the veterinarian’s office, Conheim and her roommate made the choice of euthanizing Henry. It seemed like it was the only rational choice until Conheim couldn’t get out of the car. She said when they made the decision, Henry just kept purring and looking into her eyes.

Conheim started to overcome her hatred for cats when she saw that look in Henry’s eyes. And instead she chose the option to save Henry’s life and take a chance on this furry species that she had grown up despising.

She brought Henry back to her home in San Diego, still not convinced that she wanted a cat in the house. She then sent an email to 20 friends, telling them the story of her three-legged cat.

Those friends forwarded Conheim’s e-mail to their friends, who forwarded it to their friends, and so on, until strangers were contacting Conheim or, more so, Henry. They shared their own personal problems, challenges, and frustrations.

Conheim answered all of the emails personally and individually. She at first signed her name, but then she started to answer in the voice of Henry.

This psychotherapist began counseling through Henry. She would give words of advice and therapy to cancer patients, wounded soldiers, family of murder victims, and anyone else who needed someone to talk to about their problems.

Some people have even flown to San Diego to meet this three-legged celebrity and inspiration.

One letter that was addressed to Henry had eleven $100 bills in the envelope. The note in it said: “You seem like the kind of guy who would know what to do with this.”

Another woman contacted Henry because her friend saw her husband get murdered. The husband was a cat lover, and the friend asked Henry to write the woman. Henry responded to the woman, and she has written back four times.

Conheim published Henry’s story in two books, Henry’s World, a book for adults, and What’s The Matter With Henry? The True Tale of a Three-Legged Cat, a children’s book. All of the profits from sales go to humane societies and animal-welfare groups.

She has even had speaking engagements, and most recently at a Southern California Church. Henry watched Conheim from a pew as she spoke.

“Henry is not a Republican or Democrat, he belongs to no specific church. He is not black, Hispanic or white, he is not gay or straight,” Conheim said at the church. “He is just a mixed-breed country cat brought here to remind us of what matters, what we need to do on this Earth, and to remind us that the power of love can melt all hatred and hurt, move hearts, minds and mountains.”

For Conheim, at first, she was only planning to keep Henry for no more than two weeks just to help him recover from the surgery. But after two days of being around Henry, that completely changed. He wasn’t going anywhere. The spirit that he showed during his recovery captured the hearts of everyone in the house including Dolly, the poodle of the house.

Conheim is still answering mail from people. She also looks for other ways to share Henry’s message. She says that this is one of the lessons that this inspirational three-legged cat has taught her.

“The fact that you can’t do everything doesn’t give you permission to do nothing.”

Source: Baltimore Sun

15 Responses to “Henry, The Three-Legged Cat, Is Inspiration To All”

  1. Pam says:

    What an inspirational story and an inspirational cat. Hats off to Henry and Cathy Conheim!

  2. Donna says:

    Yes, the “eyes” have it - look at that face, what a beautiful cat! Wishing you all the best Cathy, Henry and Family.

  3. nora says:

    That Kitty is so beautiful. He deserves a life filled with love and protection.

  4. catmom5 says:

    I’m glad that Henry had the chance to live. What a tremendous contribution he’s made to so many lives. To think he could have been just one more cat who was euthanized because no one wanted him . . . How many other “Henrys” never get to have the chance to make a difference? Thanks for sharing his story.

  5. Jenny Bark says:

    Thanks Itchmo for this beatiful story. Love has no bounds as long as we let it grow.

  6. Bridgett says:

    Great story. My vet has a kitty in the office with only two legs. The receptionist said the kitty came to them when she was just a kitten. She had been mauled by something. The vet amputated her two back legs and kept the kitty as an office kitty. She is the sweetest thing. And she gets around great. She just drag her hind end. She uses the box fine. She sat behind me at the office and gave me a backrub.

    Thank God, literally, for the kind hearted people who don’t give up on animals like this. Wish there were more.

  7. Furball Mom says:

    A beautiful and inspiring story! Animals do the very best that they can with what they have….unlike a lot of their human brothers!

    Thank you, Cathy, for making a differance.

  8. Don Earl says:

    “The fact that you can’t do everything doesn’t give you permission to do nothing.”

    I like that.

  9. Trudy Jackson says:

    I also have a 3 legged cat. Her name is Purr Girl. She was thrown into a dumpster behind Food Lion . From the minute I picked Her up [She had all Her legs then] She must have been in terrible pain. But all she did was Purr. I took Her to the vet and Her leg had been so broken and smashed, it had to be amputed. she gets along fine and still Purrs all the time. She does everything the other cats do, she just drags Herself up onto the couch and things.

  10. MaineMom says:

    How can anyone believe animals were not created to teach us? I’m sure we are all better people for our animal experiences. Bless them all.

  11. KAE family says:

    A wonderfully inspiring story indeed. Not unlike Conheim, I, too, didn’t care to own an animal tho’ I grew up with quite a few. Our lit’ guy. a rescued stray, came to us as an unexpected gift from a good friend. Still, I wanted to find him a good home after having him for two weeks. While waiting a for a family to adapt him another two weeks passed by. The long and short of it was our ‘child’ has been with us for nearly three years now and we are loving it!

  12. Ruth says:

    Henry is an inspiration to so many people, and God bless Cathy for all she does to spread his message to help other animals and people. The impact they have had on so many lives is incredible. Pass this story on to everyone you know!

  13. Myrtle says:

    What a wonderful story…it is so important that people know that disabled cats or any animals can have a very important role in the world….thanks Itchmo for putting this story on your site…

  14. Pamela says:

    Animals are a humbling experience to most humans. Perhaps if some of these animal abusers were introduced in their early years to animals and people like Henry & Cathy, they may not end up doing the awful things they do.
    Wishful thinking? Naive? Perhaps, but one can only hope that stories like this could be the salvation of even one abuser. That would be a start. Bless you Cathy and one super cat, Henry.

  15. C. Black says:

    Henry’s story makes it much easier for me to make the decision to have the front leg removed on my cat, Mr. Lilley, who has cancer. Thanks.

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