On the Naming of Cats

Cats.  I’ve been doing some reading on the subject and I’ve learned that the little creature that sleeps at my feet to make sure I don’t go anywhere without her knowing is literally one generation away from being a wild animal.  A small, somewhat unprepossessing wild animal, but a wild nonetheless.  Even as a pampered housecat, she still lives on her reflexes, her hunting drive, and her sense of personal territory.  Admittedly, she doesn’t use them to survive, but because she’s, well, a cat.  Cats are bred for their coat or color or size, but never have they been bred to be another other than a furry, four-legged, highly exciting mousetrap.  They wouldn’t be cats otherwise.

So, why, when we live with these miniature wildcats, creatures that are honed by evolution to be dominate predators–animals that were once considered sacred–do we give them names like “Fluffy”?

Now, I’m not trying to be excessively critical here.  Naming a pet is hard, particularly if you’re trying to get more than one person to agree.  Most of the cats I know who ended up as “Baby” got that way because nobody knew what else to call it.  Same goes for names like “Kitty” and “MomCat.”  These names just sort of happen.

But as long as we’re trying…let’s see if we can do better than a foodstuff (Oreo, Brownie), something generically descriptive (Tom, Patches), a weather condition (Misty, Snowy), or something trite (Mr. Fluffykins, Miss Pumpernella).  Come on people – this is a genetic cousin of the cheetah here.

Not there aren’t good cat names out there.  “Fog,” despite being a weather condition, if a good cat name, though “Shadow” is overdone.  Demi-gods and gods are good (Aries, Indra, Shiva).  Philosophers and great thinkers are good too (Plato, Archimedes, Pascal), despite the fact I’ve never met a cat who sat around considering the mysteries of the universe.  Fictional characters are good, particular if they’re classical in some way, (Titania, Hamlet, Scheherazade), though their more modern counterparts often work too (Solo, Sherlock, Cyrano).  Video games are touch and go (Samus, Yoshi, Sonic) – depends on the cat  I suppose.  Clever is always good – I have friends with a cat called Wampus (as in cattywampus) and I’ve met one called Pi.

Sometimes cats get stuck with a name though.  If they came with a name or had a name at their shelter, stick with it, if they’re answering to it.  Cats don’t answer to much.

As a final note: I asked a vet tech friend of mine what the strangest cat name she ever came across was.  Know what she said?

Dog.

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