Almost a week ago, I had to say goodbye to one of the best cats ever, Nomti.Longtime followers of the blog will remember this old cat getting mentioned now and again. He was a tough but loving kitty, often blunt and graceless, but also very genuine and sincere in his affections. He made a habit of soliciting pets, weaving between ankles and begging for the food humans were eating amid any social gathering my wife and I hosted. This and his gentle nature made him many friends, and rightfully so.
He was a beautiful, loving boy… And a better friend to me than many humans I’ve known.
Like any cat, he could be a shit sometimes. Notably, he had no sense of control when it came to food. He was like Garfield in his gluttony, and in his younger years there were actually several instances where he did get into our pasta while our backs were turned (including a lasagna once).He didn’t come to us as a kitten, instead we were graced to be his second home just as he turned 9. We adopted him from his prior owners because one of their family members had developed cat allergies. That was ironic, as we were specifically looking for a Siamese because my wife isn’t allergic to that breed while most other cats can make her very ill combined with her asthma.
They had kept him as an indoor/outdoor cat, and I don’t think they paid him much attention. They had little to say about the great personality we would later discover in him. He was also terribly overweight, at a whopping 26 pounds (almost 12 kg)! He was along bodied, long tailed cat… but he was so fat then he couldn’t lick his butt and keep himself properly clean.
We put him on a diet, gave him lots of play, and he slimmed down to 15 ponds within a year or so. But the excessive weight he bore for the first half of his life likely contributed to the diabetes that would emerge to plague him a few years later. For the most part, we were able to help him control this affliction by modifying and monitoring his diet.
My wife had wanted to add a cat to the household for her companionship while I was away and she was stuck at home underemployed. However, he gravitated to me pretty quickly as a lap cat and companion keeping me company over many long hours of writing. He would even help with editing…
Siamese are a more social breed of cat than most. When Kim found full-time employment and the house was empty for longer periods of time, we noticed a sadder tone to his moods. We had been talking about adding another cat to remove his loneliness for months, when we encountered a much younger adult Siamese seeking adoption out of pure fate. We brought him home within hours and named him Wesir. The little guy had been found abandoned on the streets, and had lots of separation anxiety… We couldn’t coax a purr out of him, although he was a nice cat.
The pair warmed up to one another in a week. Nomti took Wesir under his wing and they became exceptionally close for adult male cats not from the same litter. They would sleep with and groom one another, with Wesir being very attentive to the aging cat and making sure his hygiene was acceptable. In exchange, we swear Nomti taught him how to purr.
Wesir comforting Nomti (in cone), June 2016.
Wesir definitely is my wife’s cat, and she is the center of his universe. Nomti was never so fawning with his affections for me, but there was a plain honesty to them. His long lap-sits. The late nights watching me write and then sleeping nearby in my study. He was an assuring, guarding presence always.
When our friend Jessica needed a place to stay while putting her life into order, we welcomed her as a boarder in our home. And Nomti was there for her too, joining her at bedtime every night with his aura of protection and providing a loving companionship she needed at a difficult time.
His heart knew few boundaries. Even on his worst days, there was never a moment he wouldn’t spare a purr to help my bad times be a little better.
Nomti’s last year wasn’t kind to him as he reached an age of seventeen. His heath failed during my long unemployment when our money was incredibly tight. He got an infected eye and lost his sight in it despite the investment of money we really couldn’t afford into his treatment.
He never fully recovered from that. He became frail, getting down to a bony six pounds as we struggled to keep him well. His remaining good eye got infected over the winter, and while we began daily eye-treatments of antibiotics that seemed to promote some recovery, eventually they began to worsen again.
He just couldn’t fight off the infections that beset him. His immune system was failing, and it cost him his eyesight. Somehow we held onto hope he’d get better, but as his last few months dragged on it was clear that he was neither enjoying his life or going to round a corner and get well again.
His final crisis was a massive mouth infection that happened so quickly, and caused such swelling, that we thought he had gotten stung while eating a bee or wasp while we were at work. It was a grim sight as he could hardly eat, and then he lost control of his bladder.
As I comforted him, weak in my arms but still rasping out a purr, I realized that I was hanging on to him for my benefit… not his. I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want to lose my friend. But the world had become something that only pained Nomti. He couldn’t do any of the things he loved anymore; he could only shiver in the kitchen. He purred only to say he loved us, not to say he loved what his life had come to.
I was doing him a disservice.
The vet and his staff were kind. They ran a few tests confirming his diabetes was out of control, and there were likely numerous other issues stacked on top of that. And they let us stay with him as they eased him from a world that now only pained him, and into a place beyond it.
He purred despite it all, surrounded by love right to the end, in our arms. Then he was gone.
Wesir is still looking for his older brother, crying and searching all the corners of the house for him.
Nomti was, and ever shall be, my friend. And the truest of cats. As word of his passing spread, so many have contacted us with remembrances about him… That speaks volumes about how special he was to so many. Jessica even crafted a touching memorial to her lost friend as she worked through her sadness:
Like a hero of old she placed him amid the stars, surrounding him with catnip and the popcorn he’d beg to snack on whenever there was some to be had. Remarkably, a few kernels always seemed to be accidentally dropped his way.
It’s been a hard week, and I’ve needed space and time to grieve. This will serve as my update this Wednesday, and you can expect some posts on Friday but not Thursday.
I’ll be back next week with a full WIP-it check-in just before PortCon starts.
Take care… and if you have a cat, give them a hug for me.