Namir trots in anticipation down the length of my desk because a car has pulled up in front of my home and studio. He leans far off the edge and looks out the door at our guest, who is now approaching. Oh, the hopeful expression with ears cupped forward and whiskers at attention, practically on his toes and his tail waving, looking straight up into our visitor’s eyes.
To heck with me, I just do business and live here, but he always got the first greeting, “Hi Namir, how’s my boy?” accompanied by pets and more talk.
Once he is sure he has our visitor under his spell he turns on those famous bedroom eyes, narrowing them just enough so they looked mysteriously slanted and angling up a tourmaline glance, as if sharing a secret, looking totally exotic (he thinks), purring joyfully, certain our visitor belongs to him completely.
Everyone had to greet Namir, no matter their original intention, and no one ever seemed to mind. Those who did not got a swat on the elbow or a tug on the sleeve or other increasingly desperate attempts to make eye contact and return the focus to Namir. Those who sat down got Namir draped over a leg with his chin on their knee, even if he did not match their clothing.
Other cats might have tried to get their time with visitors, too, or visitors might actually try to pet another cat after petting Namir, but while Namir might let them stray he always managed to bring them back, sometimes with charm and sometimes with a shove to Cookie or Peaches to mind their own business.
He was the inspiration for The Creative Cat and all I’ve done with it, the header on this blog features an award-winning painting of him, and you see photos and read of him frequently on this site. Though most of my readers are familiar with the cat and kittens he welcomed and fostered, Mimi and her children, Namir’s presence was one of those who brought me to that point. All my cats had their lessons for me and helped to shape who I am and what I do; helping Namir manage all he carried refined my skills, my intuition, and my ability to let go in the moment, and in the end.
An interesting rescue
I’m certain Namir had a pretty frightening kittenhood, but the wonderful woman who rescued both him and Kelly related it to me in such a humorous way it actually seemed fun, and it is all I know about his rescue.
A little gray and white kitten visited the house where she lived while in college and she realized after watching him that he seemed to live at the fraternity down the street. Not certain if he had just wandered there to hang out with the guys or if they had actually adopted him, she started feeding the kitten when he visited because, as she said, she was “sure they were feeding him mashed potatoes and beer.”
She’d only lived with dogs before but adored the friendly and affectionate little kitten. Christmas break came and she offered to take care of the kitten while they were away and…just never managed to give him back. And possibly because he was suddenly neutered he really didn’t care for that carefree lifestyle anymore. Oh, and the food, that was definitely a plus over the bachelor diet of mashed potatoes and beer.
He wasn’t very cat-like at the time, no playing, no bathing, but she’d never owned a cat so she didn’t notice because he was really friendly and affectionate, enjoying brushings and being carried around. But he also had some specifically cat-like traits such as removing the screens from windows, opening locked doors and finding any other means of escape. He just needed a way to find a small rodent to sacrifice and bring its head to his human as proof of his gratitude for rescuing him, or perhaps as a threat to what might befall her should she fell from grace, she was never certain which it might be.
When she graduated and began working, her friends convinced her that Namir needed a buddy rather than staying home alone, so she went to the shelters and asked for “the next cat in line for euthanasia,” and that was how Kelly came to be a part of their lives.
His person was accepted into a graduate degree program across the country and taking the two would have been difficult to dangerous. She was my contact at one of my freelance customers and we talked cats all the time and asked if I’d foster them. She ended up going overseas to study after the graduate degree and we had agreed I would keep or find new homes for the two.
Namir’s angry reaction to coming here and to me was a big surprise considering how friendly he’d always been with everyone in every situation, but I understood that he growled at me because I was the one who had taken away his mom, and he was one deeply devoted cat. How to explain the situation to him? His heart was broken by this abandonment and betrayal, and only time would help him heal, as I knew myself after losing Kublai, the black cat who I always call the love of my life, the year before, and still felt the twinges of his loss.
Months passed, he and Kelly finally began exploring the upstairs and then the downstairs and for a while he treated guests with more affection than he treated me. But a heart as loving as Namir’s can’t hold out forever and one day he gave me one of his affectionate swats on the elbow as I walked past him, gave me his squinty look that was a mock dare, and we were buddies.
And as for that name…she had explained that a friend had suggested it to her because it meant “swift cat”, referring to the grace of his movements. I have found that it does mean “swift cat” in Persian languages, not Hebrew as she thought, but in Hebrew it seems to mean “leopard” or “spotted”.
Well, he may have been gray and white on the outside, but I knew that underneath that common coat was a long feline heritage of Oriental influence. I always said he was a prince who had been painted at birth, seeing the long legs with oval paws, muscular torso and rising curved back, the long sweeping tail with the slight angled kink at the end that showed when he was curious, the large upright cupped ears. And he often sat or stood with his right paw lifted and crossed over his left leg, which I thought was simply cute until I did a portrait of two Abyssinian cats and learned that is a particular trait of Abys.
As I’ve mentioned, Namir was the inspiration for beginning this blog, and is the kitty in the header. He had a long list of medical conditions by that time, idiopathic cystitis caused by presumed herpes in his bladder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, I told him he just liked to use big words, and while nothing slowed him down his care was constant and complicated. At the beginning, being new to blogging, I didn’t feel that writing about his many conditions and his care was appropriate. By the time I finally felt comfortable he was at his end and I didn’t have the time to share him while he was alive, or to relate his illness and care in a way that would benefit others.
June 30 is an anniversary of sorts. In 2009 this date proceeded normally with Cookie and Namir and me out in the yard in the morning after breakfast, a day of work and preparing entries for the Cat Writer’s Association contest and then a walk to the post office, coming back to be greeted by all, more work, dinner, then getting ready for bed.
It was Namir’s last day, and it was good to the last moment. A while after midnight as I was getting ready for shower and bed I sensed something was wrong and immediately realized Namir wasn’t with me. He was always with me, but I was also accustomed to checking for him frequently if he wasn’t on my lap or my shoulder or tripping me as I walked across a room, and looking for him if he wasn’t at his usual loving antics. He had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and more and more frequently slipped into congestive heart failure despite medications, and the condition had a list of possible consequences, all of which were painful and usually fatal. I found him back where I’d started, on a chair in my bedroom crouching with some breathing difficulty and the haunted, frightened look up at me that confirmed his distress. Off we went to animal emergency as we had so many times before beginning in 2005.
This time the condition had come on quickly and unexpectedly, not as usual, so I hoped he’d only have the usual injected medications and an overnight in the oxygen tent. This time, however, treatments were ineffective and I brought him home the next day, July 1, for one last visit to the back yard in my arms as we waited for our veterinarian to arrive.
But in true form, Namir made every day the best day ever, and this, his last, was the best it could be until the last minutes. Neither he nor I could have asked for a better outcome considering the very real circumstances. That’s why I celebrate June 30 each year as a remembrance of all he became to me and those who knew me and my cats after joining my household with Kelly hiding behind him.
I wrote about him in my first remembrance in 2010: A year ago today, at just about this time, I said goodbye to one of the most unique, most loved cats I’ve ever known, but remembering him is hardly a sad affair, not with a goof like Namir. It’s a celebration of a cat who, despite multiple life-threatening health issues, loved every single blessed moment of every single blessed day and shared that with every single blessed person he ever met in his life, including all the veterinarians who every poked, prodded or did indecent things to him. I’m still finding things he taught me and reasons to be thankful he was part of my life.
Two weeks after he’d passed and a few remarkable things had happened I published the story of him and his illness.
July 13, 2009: I write this memory of a remarkable cat because I want others to remember him, still others to know him, and to share some of the more challenging things about living with a cat who has several unpredictable and life-threatening conditions, the time, the finances, the decisions, those last moments, the impact on the rest of my household of cats, and, of course, what a creative inspiration he was for me as a painter and writer and photographer, even as a designer of stylish crochet items.
And woven through Namir’s chronic long-term conditions has been the pattern of my household growing older, developing an end-of-life illness and then each is gone. For about five years I’ve been extremely vigilant, observing appetites, checking respiration rates, taking temperatures, administering sub-Q fluids, giving medications and whatever supportive care was necessary to keep everyone comfortable, often to several cats at one time, as I lost four in one year. Losing Namir is, in a way, the ends of that cycle finally meeting. Loss is only an end if a lesson in the loss goes unlearned, so this cycle has fine tuned my ability to care for all my cats because I have learned many lessons.
Professionally, I have been able to immediately put these lessons into design work which I coincidentally began in April and May. The cremation service I use is also one of my customers for design and photography, and we’ve been redesigning her logo and building up her website to include much more information about her services. Through a chain of connections I was able to illustrate the cover and booklet interior for a pet loss CD, this in turn leading me to work on my long-term idea of sympathy cards for the loss of your animal companion. Reciprocally, working on these projects when I knew I would soon lose Namir gave me great comfort in the last two months.
And I hope to share my experiences for the sake of anything that anyone else might gain from them in lessons or comfort, technical information even, though I’ve kept everything pretty general, and not named any persons or businesses.
During my period of grieving him I did design those Animal Sympathy Cards which I still offer today and have added to as notable cats have come and gone, and I decided what I would do with this venue and my cats within it and began posting articles more and more frequently, and introducing my cats, beginning with what I feel is one of my best articles, the first I wrote with the intent of what to do with this new blog, Perhaps the Storm is Finally Over.
I still miss that goofball, but he left behind so much of himself in what I’m doing today that I remember him with fondness every time I open The Creative Cat. And of course he was a great friend to Cookie as they became my most recent feline garden sprites.
Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series
and read about my Rescue Stories series.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
Subscribe to The Creative Cat on your Kindle
Start with a 14-day free trial. You can cancel at any time during the free trial period. If you enjoy your subscription, do nothing and it will automatically continue at the regular monthly price of 99 cents. Click here to subscribe to The Creative Cat on your Kindle.
Do you appreciate the stories and images we offer you each day?
© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!