Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What’s in a Name?

I had a litter of kittens leave this past weekend for their new homes. With each little bundle of fur being put in its new carrier on the way to its new home, I asked the excited parents, "Have you thought of a name for him or her yet?" I give each litter born in to my house a theme and the kittens are given call names accordingly. We had traditional Disney themes (Mickey, Minnie, Donald) and contemporary Disney (Mulan, Jasmine, Aladdin); book characters (Atticus, Edward, Bella); music (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti); Rock bands (Santana, Nirvana, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd); Greek (Aphrodite, Persephone, Hera), the four seasons, etc. It's fun, gives me something to call them for 12 weeks and helps me to keep track of which litter a cat came from. Most of my kitten buyers will come up with their own name for their kitten which is the one I'll send in for the registration papers. 

The cat associations (I use CFA and TICA) have a rule that each cat name registered has to be a unique name. The first part of every pedigreed cat's name is its cattery name, therefore, all kittens I register start with Dracoonfly. There can be more than one registered cat named Oliver, but only one Dracoonfly Oliver. The other cattery would have their name in front, i.e. Broadsway Oliver where Broadsway is the cattery name. Thus, the two names are different. The kittens that just left for their new homes had a vampire theme as they were born on Halloween. We'd already done the Twilight theme, so I looked up names of vampires from literature, forbidden by Kelsey to choose something as common as Dracula. The kittens were named Lestat, Nosferatu, Vlad and Carmilla. Carmilla kept her name as the new owners thought it suited her. Nosferatu is now Moxie and Vlad is called Brody. Lestat's owners wanted to name him Oliver, however, there is already a Dracoonfly Oliver. I explained the rules to the new owner and she immediately came up with a middle name, the name her son wanted originally (but apparently he'd been voted down by the rest of the family). He wanted to name the kitten Elvis. Now there will be a Dracoonfly Oliver Elvis. 

People who search for and get a pedigreed cat seem to automatically think in more grandiose terms for their kitty's name. Probably because they've gotten ideas from seeing the names the breeder has for her cats. I name all the cats I keep after fishing flies. The cat often has a different call name, for instance Dracoonfly Miramichi Special goes by "Myra". The Miramichi Special is a fishing fly. There are also fishing flies unsuitable for cat names, such as Moose Turd, Mouserat, or any of the leech names. 

There are an infinite number of sites dedicated to cat names on the web for those seeking that perfect name. I found Catster.com's top 100 female and male cat names, sent in by their followers. Topping the list for female names is Chloe at 1,023 votes. For males, it's Tigger. I actually compared the two top 100 lists to those my kitten buyers have used. Approximately one-fifth of the names listed on Catster are also used by Dracoonfly kitten owners. Some are also used by me, but they are the nicknames, not the registered names. Miramichi Special and Same Thing Murray are not common cat names. 

In going through the list of my kitten buyers' cat names over the years, some just pop out with their uniqueness. I'm not into cutsie names, but some people are (or the cats are named by their children). This would include names like Kenya Koon, Mia Miaow, Mischief, or my personal favorite, Puss 'n Boots. Then there are the original names like Bracket, Calla Lily Bloom, Eggs and Twizzler. Others like to take up the maximum number of letters and spaces allowed by CFA and TICA (35 including Dracoonfly) and come with names such as Monzu the Magnificent, Rome-Lil' Bugger with Cream, Sir Buckman Taurig or So Pale Morning Dun Abby. The last one was a combination of using the kitten's name I had given her, "So" from the above mentioned Music Litter, a fishing fly name "Pale Morning Dun" (the owner also fly fishes), and the name they wanted to actually call her, "Abby". 

The most interesting story concerning a cat's name from one of my kitten buyers came about years ago. This is the litter shown above. It was a food theme: Peppercorn, Pumpkin, Popcorn, Cinnamon and Macaroni n' Cheese. Cinnamon's new owners had a name already picked out for him. They wanted to name him after the lion actor from the movie "Second Hand Lions", Sir Buckman Taurig. Pumpkin's owner re-named him Duncan. A couple of years later, Duncan's owner, Kristen, told me she'd used an animal communicator to talk to her cat as he was having major fear issues after their basement flooded. I was a skeptic but Kristen assured me that this woman was "told" things by her cat that she couldn't possibly have known. The animal communicator lived in Virginia and worked over the phone. After the cat told the communicator that he couldn't understand why the walls were leaking and she helped him deal with that (Kristen had not mentioned the flood), she asked the cat if he needed to say anything else. One complaint Duncan had was he didn't think his name was long enough. He told the communicator that he wanted to be called "Mister Duncan MacBeth". The similarities between Duncan's brother's name (he was in the room when his brother's name was announced) and the one he wanted were eerie. Duncan's owner had been reading MacBeth at the time and quoting it out loud to the cats. It's as though Duncan thought if his brother could have a long name, he deserved one also. 

Choose your kitten or cat's name carefully and make it as special as your pet. Most of the cats mentioned here can be seen as kittens and later as adults on the Then and Now pages of my website.


  1. There are also fishing flies unsuitable for cat names, such as Moose Turd, Mouserat, or any of the leech names.

    Those sound like great cat names to me. I could easily see owning a cat named Moose Turd. It's sounds very regal.

    Well, you have certainly progressed in your cat naming. I'm sure Puff would be so proud to see your naming techniques.

  2. Well, "Howard" does remember the important things, doesn't he!

    I think it's just an outstanding article, not only interesting but informative. I had no idea so much thought went into naming a cat.

  3. Thanks for reminding me about Puff. I meant to mention my first cat, named by my older brother (I was 5-years-old when I got her, Paul, aka "Howard" was a more mature 7-year-old). Her name was taken from the primary reader books, "Sally, Dick and Jane". The pets were Spot the dog and Puff the cat. See Puff run. Run Puff run!

  4. Living in Maine we felt like we had to get a little creative with our Maine based name for the kitten formerly known as UPS. Hence Angus King, a former independent governor of Maine who rides a Harley!