Allow me to introduce you to Isis. Not the goddess (although she sometimes behaves like one) and certainly not the terrorist group.
Isis is a cat. My cat. And I’m her human.
As I write this, Isis is in severe kidney failure. She’s only nine years old, and she doesn’t deserve that. She deserves so much more.
I met Isis at a PetSmart store on one of those days when they bring in shelter pets and hope someone bonds with them. Isis was there, with her brother, who was running all over the cage, playful as can be. Isis wasn’t having any of that. She just casually came up and said “hello” to me, nudging her head up against the cage when I put my hand down to pet her. Right away, we were comfortable with each other.
I had a name picked out for her right away. I was going to call her Frejya, after the Norse goddess, because her crystal blue eyes and glistening white and grey coat, with a hint of tan, reminded me of a book I’d read by Elizabeth H. Boyer from the early ’80s. I’d read it a long time ago, and if I remember correctly, one of the characters was a woman or goddess who’d been magically transformed into a cat.
But then I was informed that she already had a name: Isis. I liked that, too, and I figured that, since she already had it, I wasn’t going to take it away from her. Isis she would remain.
Isis came along at just the right time, and she’s been there during the hardest time of my life. Since I’ve known her, I’ve been through a divorce, been laid off from my job of fourteen years and watched my father’s health gradually decline.
Isis was there for me the whole time, and along with my mother and my wife, Samaire, hers has been the most comforting presence I’ve ever known.
She nearly always came when I called her name, and even today, in her weakened state, she still does. Sometimes, she lies down at the foot of the bed, and the moment I say her name, she’ll turn around and look at me, then get up and walk like some miniature white tiger on padded paws right up to me and curl up next to me, purring.
When everything was going wrong and I was struggling with depression, I imagined she was that white tiger, and that she was there to protect me when I no longer had the hope or energy to fight myself.
Now, I have to protect her. She spent the past week in the animal hospital on IV fluids and she seemed to perk up a little, but at the end of that time, she still was barely eating and her kidney numbers weren’t much better. The vet said he recommended euthanizing her.
Samaire said she didn’t think we should, and I realized she was right. I wouldn’t make that kind of decision for a family member who walks on two legs. How could I do that for my beloved white tiger just because she walks on four?
Besides, I want more time with her – even if it’s only a little bit. I’m typing through tears here, and I don’t cry very often. Not to complain, but I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve learned to deal with loss and numb myself to pain pretty effectively. But not this kind of loss. Not this kind of pain.
All the talk of rainbow bridges and “better places” doesn’t mean a thing when you face the prospect of losing someone you love deeply and someone who has loved you so unconditionally for so long.
Right now, Isis still isn’t eating on her own, but she will swallow (grudgingly) the food we put in her mouth, and we’re giving her subcutaneous fluids to keep her hydrated. I’m spending as much time curled up in bed beside her as I can because, to me, every moment now is precious.
I wanted to introduce you to Isis, because I may not have many more chances to do so, and because everyone should get the chance to know someone this special. An unfailing friend. A white tiger. Someone you know without a shadow of a doubt really loves you.
That’s who Isis is to me and, whatever happens, it’s who she’ll always be.