Nom Wahn, a.k.a. "Nomie"
Thai Kitten in America

Nomie comes from Meuang Uttaradit, about 40km. downstream from the village of Pah Leurat where we spend three months each summer hanging out with our family, teaching English and building libraries and computer labs. The village phone does not support E-mail, so when we go to town I usually take my PowerBook and borrow friends' phones to log on. It was on one such excursion that we adopted Nom Wahn.

She was just three weeks old, and the smallest in a litter of kittens whose mother refused to nurse. Their owner, herself quite pregnant, was bottle feeding the lot, and my five-year-old daughter Benyapa was enchanted with the process. Beni took a shine to Nomie right away and insisted that we take her home. I resisted, since we already had two kittens back in Pah Leurat. Nomie's owner was also concerned that we wouldn't have the determination required to hand feed her baby, but Benyapa's will prevailed. For the next month that little girl dropper-fed her new kitten freshly warmed sweet milk (nom wahn in Thai) every time she mewed, day and night. Beni got plenty of help from Mom and Dad and her grandmother, Yie Jah, but she never missed a feeding and never complained.

It was pretty special, and in the end there was no way we could leave Nomie in Pah Leurat when we flew back to America. So we got her shots and traveling papers, and spent a day in Chiangmai tracking down a sturdy cat carrier. On our way through Bangkok our usual hotel would not allow Nomie in our room, so a friendly taxi driver helped us find another nearby that would. Nomie's "ticket" with Thai Air was 7000 Baht ($175 US at that time). She got to ride in the cabin with us, and slept most of the way in her carry-on box. We had also brought a small litter box, which I offered her a few times in the lavatory, but she would have none of it with that floor bouncing all around!

So we made it "home" to Santa Barbara without event, and Nomie is queen of the house here. Our neighbors, and even our two older cats, all love her, and Benyapa is still her very best friend. They play together every day and sleep arm in arm every night. When we went to Thailand this summer, we left Nomie with a house sitter here and she did fine -- except for gaining quite a lot of weight! I've no doubt she missed us as much as we missed her. We enjoyed a warm reunion last weekend, and at this moment Nomie and Beni are asleep together again.

Mac Bakewell
September 4, 1999

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