Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What’s in a Cat’s Name?

This post comes from our Guest Blogger, Barbara Mader. Barbara has been an animal lover all her life. Cats are her favorites. She has loved up to fourteen at a time including abandoned new moms with litters of kittens and disabled strays. “We can learn so much about gratitude, loyalty and love from our adopted pets,” she states. Barbara writes Cats in New York for www.examiner.com.

A new furry bundle arrives in your life. You have just welcomed a kitty into its forever home: yours. Congratulations! Bask in that happy glow for a bit, then get down to the business of “catting.”

One of your first “cations” will be selecting a name for your cat. You and your furry friend took time to select each other, so now invest great care in kitty’s nomenclature. How do you make the best choice for this new companion?
You already have a name chosen by someone for you. Your name defines you in many ways – first impressions, personality traits, commonalities with a well-known person of the same name. Accurate or not, name associations influence perceptions by others. The same is true for your kitty.

Most shelters or adoption organizations give their adoptees temporary names. It aids their efficiency in record keeping. “Cat 4503” is probably not a keeper name. You are not obligated to retain the name someone else gave your new cat. Variety is the spice of life, so find the unique moniker that is exactly right for your cat.

Colorful Cat Names

Consider your cat’s coloring. One-color cats sometimes suffer from name boredom. Do we need more cats named “Marmalade, “Snowball” or “Shadow”? That would equate to every boy becoming “John,” “Bill” or “Joe.” Nothing is wrong with these names, but they evoke yawns when there are many descriptive feline alternatives.

An orange cat would love a spicier name than Pumpkin. It is too mundane for your exciting kitty. How about Tang? Yes, the breakfast drink consumed by astronauts. It gives your kitty a heroic and otherworldly aura. Maybe Kumquat would work, but spelling it could be problematic. Both names do contain sharp sounds which cats positively respond to.

Instead of Snowball, a white cat might like Clorox, Blizzard or Spectrum. For a black cat, consider Anthracite or Mascara. Gray kitties are Clairol or Pie Plate. A tan or brown cat could become Sand Dune but probably not Gravy.

A striped feline is a Flicker or Ump. Calico cats resemble Paint Chips or Brush Stroke. Too many black and white (tuxedo) cats are Oreo. Instead, consider Sinatra, or Liberace. Piano names (yes, black & white) are Steinway, Baldwin, Chopin or Rachmaninov.

Word Smith Cat Names

Dewey is a cat name librarians would love. Other bookish names include Dickens, Chaucer or Updike or Nietze. Avoid names that are hard to pronounce or spell such as Dostoyevsky or Solzhenitzyn. If you have a favorite author you wish to honor, perhaps a character from one of their books holds a suitable name to share with a furry friend. Their personalities have been delineated by the author. Try matching one to your kitty. Take care with Cratchit, Smee, Scrooge or Ahab.

Poetic names include Evangeline and Jack Sprat. Litter mates could be Jack and Jill, but probably not Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Although Gitche Gumee may be fun to say, you will quickly tire of hearing endless recitations of the Song of Hiawatha, including too many Minnehaha references to laugh at.

A reporter could cuddle up with Headline, Byline or Dateline. Folio works. So do Typo and Rewrite. Dingbat or Dummy legitimately describe very special cats, but should probably be off the top ten list, as should Plagiarism and Morgue. Scoop is another news term but that concerns a different area of cat ownership.

Fine Art Genre Cat Names

A photographer’s kitty would be Flash or Blink. F Stop works, but not Click or Birdie. Artists can pick their favorite style and go with anything from Titian, Monet or Warhol to Remington, Klee or de Kooning. Avoiding common artist names like Leonardo and Raphael is advisable. Those have already been taken by turtles. Picasso is a cute name, especially since kitties tend to twist and bend into normally uncatish forms.

The classical musician has a wealth of naming material at his disposal. Andante never hurries; Largo owns nap time. Allegro always runs ahead, especially to the food dish, and Scherzo is prone to cat fits. The cat always purring must be Vibrato.

Dancers’ cats are Tango or Krump. Arabesque is a name for an exotic cat. Brise means “jump.” Although cats do this well too and from great heights, it is not recommended you imitate them. You can find safer ways to bond with your cat. Coda lets you know when play time is over.

Scientific Cat Names

For a physicist Neutron, Quark, Fractal or Heisenburg say it all. Biochemists should use Watson or Crick. Analytical chemists’ cats are Arrhenius, Hasselbach and Henderson. Organic chemists might choose Diels-Alder or Polymer. Physical chemists should use Schrodinger, especially if they have a one-dimensional cat. Avoid Buffer, Overflow or Sulphur.

An astronomer’s star-gazing buddy might be Galileo, Kepler or Copernicus, particularly if they are night prowlers. Johannes has been a popular astronomer name, too. Geologists could use Richter, St. Helens, Pompeii or Krakatoa. Meteorologists might like Isobar, Wind Chill or Avalanche.

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

You’ve found the right cat, or more likely he found you. So give him the right name. Whether it’s a funny name or serious one, a “human” favorite or traditional “pet” name, you’ll find one that is perfect for your new little buddy. Then…see if he comes when he’s called!

How did you name your cat(s)?


  1. Ours is Kitty, pure and simple... Melania

  2. We named our cat Kasumi which means mist..But I think we should have named her Tsunami...