I had wanted to share this a few weeks ago by prescheduling posts around my surgery, but I’m sharing it now instead.
While the story of their coming here is technically not a rescue by me, aside from the fact that they probably would have gone to a shelter and not been adopted and had negative consequences as a result, Namir and Kelly were originally both rescues, individually, in different cities, at different times, and totally different circumstances. Like many cats, I think they experienced several rescues through their lives to come to their final home.
And the photo above was not from the day they arrived, but from months later when the two had long passed their quarantine and finally decided to come down the stairs, together, to check things out, though Namir still wasn’t sure he wanted to stay with me, and Kelly did whatever he said, but this, my first photo of them, captures something essential about each of them and I treasure this memory. Little did I know they would spend the rest of their lives with me.
From reading The Creative Cat it may seem that Kelly was best friend to Cookie as the two tortie girls for all their lives together, but that really only came in their last years together. Cookie came here in 1992 and Kelly in 1997 with Namir, and the two were very close all that time. Because we lost Namir just about the time I began blogging, 2009, you’ve mostly seen Namir with Cookie or by himself, and Kelly with Cookie or Peaches or herself. But until Peaches joined our household and Kelly became her BFF, Kelly and Namir were bonded friends who often snuggled together or, as you see, snuggled in mirror images.
Namir and Kelly mirror each others’ sleeping positions on the couch, in 2000.
It’s always a bittersweet day for me, one in the cycle of the comings and goings of felines in my household, but I mark it each year in memory knowing the date is likely not a coincidence, marking a year of transition for me and for my feline household.
On October 3, 1996, I let go of Allegro after just two weeks of knowing he had lymphoma, and just two weeks after letting go of my Kublai, a time that brought a change in me and my art.
On October 3, 1997, a friend drove up to my home bearing Kelly and Namir for me to foster. So much had happened for me and my feline household in the intervening year, and so much change was still to come, but, especially after the losses of Kublai and Allegro, these two unintentional adoptions made my household complete, joining Sally, Stanley, Moses, Fawn, Sophie, Cookie and Nikka.
I had agreed to foster Kelly and Namir for a friend who was going off to graduate school across the country with very little means, and I would foster them for her but would keep them with me, with the knowledge that she might not be able to collect them. When it was clear my friend, still without the means for stable housing for herself, couldn’t take Kelly and Namir back a couple of years later, they officially became permanent members of my feline family, but that was only a formality. We had come some distance on a journey together and still had some distance to go.
By this time Namir was ruler of his little kingdom, his sweet and silly personality making him a favorite with visitors and a good friend of mine. Kelly was still shy of others but friendly with me, and opening up her talkative and busy personality for us to enjoy. But we didn’t start there—in fact, Namir hated my guts for a few months, his loyalty to his person stronger than his curiosity and need to explore his new home. He growled at me when I came in the spare cat room to feed them, and Kelly hid, frightened by both me and Namir.
While they made no move to leave the room or show any curiousity at all of what was out there, I knew I had to help them along. Seeing the rest of my household outside the door or hearing them while I was in the room with them didn’t elicit any anxious or angry responses; in fact, they looked friendly at the presence of other cats, but hesitant. Because of that I occasionally began leaving the door to the room open during the late morning and afternoon in the spring of 1998. I still worked my day job so it was the weekend, they could explore and meet the others and grow accustomed to the household habits. Finally one day I heard hesitant paws tiptoeing down the steps and the two quietly appeared on the steps together to explore. It was just a few steps to trust from there, and as for them integrating into the rest of the family, they’d been conversing through the closed door and then the open door, and I’m sure it was those feline conversations that told them the human was worth getting to know.
I was lucky enough to catch that moment in the photo at the top when I turned to see them and quickly grabbed the old Pentax K1000. They are about four years old in that photo. What a lucky day for me.
It seems like yesterday.
The new fosters and their stories
I’m certain Namir had a pretty frightening kittenhood, but the wonderful woman who rescued him 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 came to adore 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 fall 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.
She was told that Kelly had been rescued with a feral cat colony from a building that was to be demolished, and that she’d had kittens. While the kittens had been adopted, it wasn’t clear if Kelly was feral or had had very little socialization or was completely traumatized, but she cowered all day with her face pressed into the corner of her cage. Kitten season was coming and the shelter needed the cage space, and Kelly was clearly not adoptable, and she was the least adoptable of all the cats on the euthanasia lists at three shelters. She took her home and Kelly hid under the furniture for weeks, but she could see that Namir was befriending her, and it turned out okay.
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.
After he and Kelly finally began exploring the upstairs and then the downstairs, 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.
They were up for adoption still and I pursued homes for them, but Kelly was so shy (if I only knew then what I know now), and Namir had a habit of drooling when he was petted that turned people off, that no one seriously considered adopting them, though others I fostered at the time moved along. Perhaps they were intended to stay here and there was really nothing I could have done.
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, 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. In his memory, I have recorded care and information for each of my cats.
A little more reading
You can read more about Kelly and Namir meeting each other before they arrived here in A Little Bit About Kelly, Part 4: A Friend and how they came to live with me in A Little Bit About Kelly, Part 5: Home.
You can read about October 1996 in an article entitled The Artist’s Life: The Splendor of Autumn.
I wrote a remembrance of Namir on my website after he died, My Good Friend, Namir. I also post an article about him each year around his birthday, Not a Bad Deal on a Pre-owned Cat, and he inspired 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.
Read more Rescue Stories on The Creative Cat.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Prints and Greeting Cards from Portraits of Animals!
January light is so beautiful, the sun still at a low angle streaming into windows and doors, the days often overcast and the brilliant warm yellow sunlight a respite, and this is what has Namir transfixed in the stream of sun that washes in the back door in winter—and probably a few birds bobbing about on the deck chasing stray bird seed. Read more, and purchase.
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes. “The Roundest Eyes” is a hand printed, hand tinted linoleum block print. Read more and order.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.
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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!