“Sometimes Angels Have Fur,” by Mike McReynolds

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:47

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Ishi

Ishi

Sometimes Angels Have Fur

By Mike McReynolds

She came to us 15 years ago as a set of lungs covered with fur, abandoned in the leaves covering Roberta’s dad’s back yard. She was loudly telling the world, “I’m here, take me home!” Roberta took her to the vet who said she was probably two days old which coincided with Roberta’s birthday. Roberta went out and bought bottles and formula with her birthday money and brought her home.

She fit in the palm of my hand but her tiny shadow soon filled every corner of our home as she began her reign. The training program for us was unrelenting as we did our best to live up to her expectations.

mcreynolds-ishi-bottle-edited

Ishi taking a bottle

I was given the honor of naming her and not yet being a fully accredited “cat person” I named her Ishi, a Yahi Indian word meaning ‘person’ and dubbed her “the last of the cat tribe”. Roberta became “Mom” and gave her bottles and cleaned her up with a washcloth just like a momma cat would. I was relegated to the role of littermate and used mainly for wrestling matches. Sometimes I would hold her in my hand on her back and tickle her plump little kitten belly. Ishi would kick her hind legs as if riding a bicycle and grab my hand in her front paws while chewing on the ends of my fingers. This became our favorite game and continued for the next 15 years. As she grew stronger, the fights became rougher and I almost always had claw and teeth marks on my hands and wrists.

Her favorite toy was a little gray stuffed mouse that Roberta got for her. She took it everywhere, often singing to it as she walked. We named the mouse Woobie. It was patched and beat up, but lasted her entire life.

Ishi was a creature of strong habit and it only took doing something once to become a routine. I once made the mistake of giving her some treats in the middle of the night and for years she would wake me at 3 or 4 am demanding her snack. She was a very intelligent cat as well. She understood what a mirror was and loved watching herself in one. She also learned to answer the phone when we weren’t home. She knew that it stopped ringing when we answered it, so when it stopped she would reach over and flip the receiver off the hook. Ishi also knew what a cup handle was for and would often try to give herself a drink in the evening from my cup sitting on the coffee table.

Ishi knew where everything belonged in the house and if something new was introduced, it was just a short time before she found it. She would sit and stare at the offending item as if to say, “What is this doing here?” If she was very critical, the item would be pushed off the table or counter with a haughty swipe of her paw as if to say, “This doesn’t go here!”

Ishi and Woobie, with patches due to love

Ishi and Woobie, with patches due to love

Ishi came to us at a time when we had a lot to deal with in our lives. She became the child we couldn’t have together and soon was inextricably entwined in our daily routine. It would take volumes to explain what she meant to us and how much we loved her.

She had to leave us suddenly on a July day, just six weeks short of her 15th birthday. I think our little furry angel was needed somewhere else. In the tradition of the Yahi after whom she was named, I drummed and sang her spirit into the next life where we are sure she will be waiting for us.

We buried her in the back yard under what we call our spirit tree, wrapped in one of my old flannel shirts (a favorite napping place of hers) with her precious Woobie mouse tucked in her paws. We miss her terribly but know we were blessed to have had her in our lives.

I am typing this 4 years after Ishi’s passing and can barely see through the tears to finish it. We have two new cats, Kiisu and Phoebe. They are a joy to us and we love them but Ishi will always be a very special chapter in our lives.

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:47
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