NAMING YOUR CAT

by Janet Blue on September 1, 2012

No Longer a Stray

Once you name a cat, it is no longer a stray. It is a member of your family. Friends have claimed they are feeding a cat that has been hanging around but haven’t named it. They just call it Cat or Kitty or some other generic moniker. Hey…that’s a name! My friend, Tammy, who Dad Tom calls the pusher as she always calls me when she hears of cats that need homes, continues to have strays appear at her house. One of those, called Yellow Cat by her husband, Tom, was dropping by and they were feeding him. But Tammy stated emphatically that they were not claiming him or giving him a name. My Tom pointed out that Yellow Cat is a name. He’s now been around for a couple of years.

Poet T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965) had advice about naming cats long before we started to care for cats, but we have our own DO with regard to this: Do give all your cats fancy names so that when you’re outside screaming for them at the top of your lungs, your neighbors will think you’re classy. We haven’t used any of Eliot’s imaginative and whimsical names, like Munkustrap, Bombalurina, or Jellylorum, he suggested in The Naming of Cats, first published with other cat poems in 1939. To our minds, however, we have improved on this ritual as the years have progressed.

Skooter

White and brown tabby cat lying on pink patchwork quilt.

Our first cat: Skooter.

 

New to this important task with our first and second cats, our inexperience is evident. After days of debate with kitty #1, the best we could do was Skooter—a typical pet’s name or kid’s nickname. (He was not named after the Muppet, Scooter.) We made our guy’s name a little different by using a “K” instead of a “C” in the spelling. But, still, it was not unusual or imaginative. Scooter ranks very high on the list of popular cat names.

Steamer

Brown tabby cat in mid leap from radiator.

Steamer had a unique name, especially for a female cat.

 

Our second cat had an unusual name for a girl: Steamer. She was named after the brother of storyteller Ernest Randolph “Doc” McConnell (1928-2008), Cecil “Steamer” McConnell. We’d heard McConnell at a storytelling weekend at Mountain Lake, Pembroke, VA, and were delighted by a story about Steamer and a Vienna (pronounced Vy- ee-nuh) Sausage tree. But this was yet another nickname.

Daphne

Long-haired Tuxedo cat with back paw in the air mid wash.

Daphne had a look of surprise as her photo was snapped.

 

By the time we got to our third cat, Daphne, we had decided that human names were more sophisticated, developed our “DO” and have not deviated from this system except when naming Twinkle. (However, I would like to have a Sparkle someday, but probably will refrain as long as our neighbors have Sparky. (Update on November 2022: Still no Sparkle; though, Sparky moved away several years ago.) Daphne, according to Greek mythology, was a nymph pursued by the Olympian God, Apollo. Daphne prayed for help and was turned into a laurel. Though Daphne came into our lives in 1991, we did not know about the story of the laurel until 1994 when we visited Greece.

Chloe

Calico cat looking grumpy with half-closed eyes.

Chloe was not happy about being awakened to have her photo taken.

 

Until I began this post and re-read “The Naming of Cats” I hadn’t realized that we had used a derivative of one of Eliot’s “fancier” names. Chloë is another name for Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the Harvest. Chloë’s a very popular name on many pet naming web-sites as well. It’s the fifth most popular female cat name at cuteness.com. (It dropped to seventh in 2022.) It is also listed at petrix.com along with Lily, Madison and MacKenzie. Dog lovers also must be partial to this name. The dog living across the street from us is a Chloë.

Madison

White cat lying on brick walk.

Our handsome, blue-eyed Madison.

 

We showed great restraint when it came to our cat, Madison. He hung out on the back deck for more than six months before we invited him in the house. And he did not get his name until he had become a permanent member of the household! Madison is not an unusual name. Human girls have been acquiring this name at an increasing rate during the past several years. Our Madison, however, was a male, and his name fit him perfectly. With his white fur and blue eyes most visitors thought he was a female. It really didn’t bother him as he was secure in his masculinity.

For information on how some of our other kids came by their names, please read the FELINES page.

Name Selection

Involving your human children in the selection of a new kitty or in the naming process is always a good thing. But be prepared to live with their selections. Our previous neighbors’ large, female, tuxedo cat was named Jim!

I have lists of potential cat names for future felines that might come into our lives. At the top of all lists are the names Audrey and Jeanmarie. (Finally, we have an Audrey as of July 2022.) These ladies are both previous veterinarians to our kitties. Audrey was instrumental in saving Lily’s life, which you will be able to read about in a future post. Both came to the house for annual check-ups and vaccinations and also picked up and dropped off various kitties when they needed care that required an office visit. We think naming a couple of our felines for them would be the supreme compliment.

If you truly are at a loss for a cat name and decide to Google “Cat Names,” you will find 73 pages of web-sites with various lists and suggestions for names. Numerous books also can be found with lists of names. But be adventurous and use your imagination. We have found that it takes about four months for the average cat (and, of course, none are) to learn its name, so we felt secure in renaming four of our kitties: MacKenzie originally known as Cyrus, Lisbeth formerly Cary, Astrid (Tabitha) and Calista Jo (Josette). Madison also most likely had another name. He was about two years old when he adopted us and so well-mannered that he previously had to have been someone else’s pet.

But no matter what you name your puss, as long as something good awaits, s/he’ll come when you call…eventually.

Updated: November, 2022

 

 

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Meezer'sMews&TerrieristicalWoofs November 30, 2022 at 1:11 am

Thanks for revealing how your kitties all got/get their names!

Our first kitty came with his name, and we thought it suited him well: Groucho! LOL!
Simba was named after the lion…Suki was named after a cat that my sister knew in her childhood, Toki was named after Tom Kitten…shortened!
Pipo was named after one of my Aunt’s cats, and Minko was an ‘invented’ name…because we didn’t think Stinky Minky was very nice, LOL!
(He came to us smelly, flea covered and looking like a beraggled little mink.)
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The Florida Furkids November 23, 2022 at 9:43 pm

All of our names came from different things. Raz was Razputin when he was adopted and Mom thought Raz was cuter. Noelle came to us the day before Christmas Eve and Gracie’s Mom gave us the idea of Noelle. Reesie had an official name when we got her – Bumblebe’s Reesies Pieces.

The Florida Furkids with love and whisker kisses to Sawyer from Noelle
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Lucy and Chia November 23, 2022 at 6:34 pm

It was quite interesting reading the reasoning behind your earlier kitties’ names. Believe it or not, this household who now boasts four dogs used to always have one or two cats, besides a couple of dogs. Name, not too original. Wendy cause she ran fast like the wind. Lily cause she was that color. And Cleo (we thought he was a girl, but he was a neutered male) because he had Cleopatra eyes.
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BellaDharma an BellaSita Mum November 23, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Aunty Janet wee love all yore Kittiess namess! An wee nevurr meeted a Scooter or a Skooter beefore! Wee think that name iss furry kewl 😉
An Madison was a furry hansum man cat!!!
Due you know how wee Purrfect Pad Kittiess gotted our namess?
Mee due last 4 catss inncludin mee!
Mingflower was Ming when BellaSita rescued her. Shee worked hard with Ming who was only 5 monthss old an furry messed up; yet within a week shee ‘blossomed’ innto a furabuluss kitty girl an beecame “Mingflower”. (Get it? Blossom an Flower)
NYLA became NYLABLUE when she was rescued. Beefore BellaSita gotted her, shee bott a dark blue blankit fore no reeson…..An NYLA took to it like a Duckie to water. An NYLA meenss ‘dark blue’….co-innceedence?? Mee thinkss not. So that iss how NYLABLUE got her name.
Then there was Dharth aka Tigss. Hee did NOT resspond to Tigss from Aunty Mary-Ellen’ss namin, butt hee did like Dharth…THE nite aftur BellaSita meeted Dharth shee was reedin sum of THE book titled “Siddhartha” bye Mistur Hermann Hesse…an shee reememburred shee allwayss wanted a Burmess boy cat shee wuud name Siddhartha….he then beecame Purrince Siddhartha after PRINCE THE Singer as hee LOVED his mewsic! An hee was named Henry aftur BellaSita’ss PawPaw whose nickyname was “Buddha”. Siddhartha inn reel life beecame THE Buddha 😉
Mee was named Bella an when BellaSita purromised P SH shee wuud ‘dopt mee, shee wanted a name that reeflected P SH mee Unkell…
So shee looked up Buddhst werdss an there was “Dharma” which meens Rite Thott; Rite Inntent an Rite Action!! An soundss alot like Dharth…..so mee beecame BellaDharma!!!
Purrty kewl rite?? How DOESS BellaSita due it???? 😉
***nose kissess*** BellaDharma an {{{hugss}}} BellaSita Mum
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Eastside Cats Blog November 23, 2022 at 11:36 am

Celestial Sammy was a stray, and I named him Guy.
However, I had just started a new job when we TNR’d Guy, so The Hubby was in charge of driving the caged cat to the vet for neutering.
The Hubby forgot ‘Guy’ and quickly said, ‘Sammy’, which was his grandfather’s name.
We’ve discovered that most cats in our lives have sorta chosen their own names.
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Katie Isabella November 23, 2022 at 7:54 am

I LOVED this today! We have come up with many ancient Roman names as well here at my house.

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Leah November 23, 2022 at 10:11 am

Cat naming is often a long and thoughtful process here, too, as the cats reveal their identities to us. Fastest naming we did ever, Lynx, who looked just like one, especially as a kitten.
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Charles Huss November 23, 2022 at 7:01 am

It is always interesting how pets get their names. Chris is the only cat we ever had that we didn’t name, or change his name. We usually name them based on personality. Tigger was always bouncing around, Flash was gone in a flash when you tried to pet him. Puck was black and shot across the room.

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Pam November 23, 2022 at 4:51 am

A very fun and interesting post! I’ve always loved the names you have for your cats and having a “reason” to name them is very cool. I have let David name our last two cats – “Sammy” and “Teddy” and I have to admit – they were and are perfect for my two ginger boys. I do believe though that a cat doesn’t give a darn about what name they are given as long as there’s food and shelter available! LOL

Hugs, Pam
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Marjorie Dawson November 22, 2022 at 10:50 pm

I love the yelling classy names idea. We fight really dirty – we have a treat tin to offset the fairly mundane names * sigh *

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Crystal And Daisy Mae November 22, 2022 at 10:47 pm

My family and I let my 4 nieces and 1 nephew name our cat and the classy name they came up with was Daisy Mae.
So true once the cat has a name no longer a stray but part of your family, something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving
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Janet Blue November 22, 2022 at 10:50 pm

One of my friends has a Daisy Mae!

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Meredith September 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

Love this post! I cracked up at this line: “It really didn’t bother him as he was secure in his masculinity.” And I loved the bit about how your neighbors will hear you shouting names, so it’s best to make them classy ones.

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