Ishtar…the cat (or Why one should think twice before naming her cat after a Goddess)

I have a beautiful, sleek, black cat named Ishtar. I saw her birth, and I have now loved and cared for her for seventeen years. She received her name while I was taking cultural anthropology in college. We were studying Babylonia when I found myself with a litter of kittens on my hands, thus all the kittens were named after Babylonian figures.

Unfortunately I did not really think about what it means to name your cat after a Goddess. I also did not do any in-depth research about Ishtar the Goddess before naming my cat. Unbeknownst to me then, I gave my cat a lot of power when I labeled her Ishtar.

I’d say most Pagans are familiar with Ishtar the Goddess. She is a Goddess of love, fertility, war, and sex. She is similar to the Sumerian Goddess Inanna and is sometimes compared to the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Ishtar is known to be a fighter, and although loving, she is cruel. I think of her as a powerful scrapper, and a Goddess who does not take any s*#^ from anyone.

In naming my little kitty Ishtar I imbued her with the powers of this mighty Goddess. In some cases this has served me and the cat well, but in others it made her a mighty force to contend with.

Ishtar the kitty was a powerful hunter. I say was because although she is still alive she is seventeen, and no longer the killer she used to be. One time she took down a bunny and brought it alive and screaming into the house. I was alone at the time and had no idea how to handle the situation. I looked at the cat and said, “Ishtar, please take care of this as I can’t imagine killing this bunny”. With one powerful motion she broke it’s neck… sorry that story may be a bit graphic for some, and I know bunnies are a rather sacred animal, but I share the tale as an example of Ishtar’s mighty hunting skills.

Ishtar was not cuddly until she was past about fourteen years. She was a prickly cat, but she would come lay with me and purr as long as it was on her terms. Now she ambushes my lap before I can even settle into the couch. Old age has calmed her huntress and now she’s my little sweetie.

Ishtar waits to anoint me with her magical drool.

Naming my kitty after such a powerful Goddess has also made her strong. About three years ago the vet found a cancerous tumor in her jawbone. As she seemed healthy and happy aside from the tumor, I decided to have a very expensive surgery done, which removed the tumor, but also part of her jawbone. She has been cancer free since the surgery, but it left her with a crooked jaw. Now she sometimes anoints me with amazingly long strings of drool and she prefers that my husband or myself feed her wet food three times a day from a spoon. I know she can eat on her own, but she likes us to serve her in that way, and we do it because we love her so much.

My fuzzy little girl also has a very powerful voice that she is not afraid to use. She cries when she is ready for her food, and when she wants to go outside on a nice day. She speaks some strong cat, and has a very unique voice.

The moral to all this is, I recommend one really thinks about the powers of a particular Goddess or God before using their name. I did not think about it at all when naming Ishtar. My young Pagan self was not yet aware of the powers of naming, I just learned about Ishtar the Goddess in a class and thought the name sounded cool. But all in all, it has worked out for the best. Yes, Ishtar was an ornery cat and a powerful killer of small animals, but she was and is also a very strong cat. And in her old age the loving side of the Goddess has really come out.

Ishtar and her mama, may remember my story about Pearl from a few weeks ago.

For most of my adult life I cared for a family of six cats who were all related. Ishtar is the only one I have left from my little kitty clan. I can’t help but think the power of her name has helped to give her a long life, and give her strength beyond that of the average cat.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tana
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 05:38:41

    This is a wonderful story.
    As a cat person (and a dog person and a person that loves most animals *lol*) I am always happy to hear about kitties reaching such a wonderful old age and having humans who take care of them in this TLC way.
    I think there is a lot in a name. Someone I know, told me a story of a witch he knew, who would safe sick animals by naming them after a deity and then calling on the deity to safe the animal: because now it wears your name, you can not let it die.
    It usually worked.


  2. The Bad Witch
    May 05, 2012 @ 05:18:19

    I named my Tuxedo “Norman” – as in Bates. He attacks us in the shower. No kidding. Should have thought that through. He’s a year old now. But my other cat is reaching the age where I know this post will be recalled to mind again and again. Thanks for your compassionate example. XXOO


  3. Trackback: A Tale of Some Kitties « The World According to ChinaCat

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