Choosing the "Purrfect Name" For Your Cat
In our home, we didn't really stretch our imaginations when choosing names for our cats. Our gray female is Ashley. Our orange male is Pumpkin. (We used the most popular cat name, Max, for our son instead.)
But animal behavior consultant Sherry Woodard had to get creative in a hurry when it came to cat-naming. In the span of several weeks, she had to give names to the cats discovered in the Best Friends' Great Kitty Rescue in Pahrump, Nevada, where over 800 cats were found living in deplorable conditions.
"To get them into the database quickly, we gave them all numbers," says Woodard, an animal training and care expert working with Best Friends Animal Society (www.bestfriends.org).
That worked for a quick fix, but after the medical problems, spaying and neutering was completed, Woodard knew each of the cats needed to be given a name. "If we're going to help them we need to value them as individuals," she explains.
Woodard and the Best Friends staff dove into the assignment, reading baby name books, themed lists, and considering various ideas, including the names of flowers, rock stars and Greek gods. Then they tried to match each cat with a name that reflected its individuality.
"It took us weeks. After we had given them all numbers, we tried to get to know them," Woodard says.
Some of the cats were named for their physical attributes, just like our Ashley and Pumpkin. Others, like HissyFace, were named for their personality.
"Some of the days got really long, and several of the cats got funny names," Woodard recalls. One little guy was called Kleenex because he had runny eyes, while another was christened Bubbles because she was blowing bubbles.
The last cat was called Blink, because he blinked his eyes while the team was naming him. "Blink's name reflected how far we had come," Woodard says, explaining that cats often blink when they start feeling better.
Of course, most people won't have to face the challenge of naming 800 cats. But sometimes even naming one seems daunting. Relax. You can't go wrong -- and if you do, it's never too late to change a cat's name.
"Cats will respond to their human, no matter what name they're called," Woodard says. "That's the good news. If you feel the name doesn't really match the cat, you can always change it. Even senior cats can have new names. The relationship is more important to the cat than the word used to call him."
Although it may not matter to the cat, we owners seem to invest a lot in the name we choose. Before you buy a baby name book -- or assign a number -- consider the following methods for naming your new feline:
- Traditional Cat Names -- such as Kitty, Felix, Boots and Fluffy. These names have stood the test of time, but they may be a little boring for today's tabby.
- Cartoon Characters -- include Muppet names (like Elmo and Ernie), Disney favorites (Tigger and Simba) or the Peanuts crew (Linus and Lucy).
- Names in Nature -- if you or your pet love the great outdoors, consider names like Sunny, Blossom, Stormy or Star.
- Food and Drinks -- don't laugh! Great names like Brandy, Brownie, Cookie and Sambuca fall into this "cat."
- TV and Movies -- have always provided inspiration for pet tags. Pick your favorite character from the past (Archie Bunker?) or the present (Hannah Montana?) and borrow his moniker.
- Color -- follow my family's lead. The cat's color is a great launching pad for name ideas. Consider names like Darth or Midnight for a black cat, Fluffernutter or Snowy for white, and Patches for a calico.
- Books -- from the myths, you'll find names like Athena and Isis. The classics inspired my dad to name his cat Jane Eyre while a friend has Grendel. Fairy tale names like Hansel, Gretel, Snow White (or any of the dwarves) or any of the Seuss characters are also enjoying a surge in popularity.
- Places -- choose your favorite place (Dakota, Jersey, Katmandu) or journey into your imagination (Oz, anyone?).
- Purr-sonality -- of course, some cats just begged to be named that describes their inner charms. Names like Frisky, HissyFace, Cuddles and Dash seem to fit some cats like a glove.
Just remember, as long as the two of you have a loving relationship, your cat is going to respond to any name you give her. So choose something you like and can live with. After all, you're going to have to use it through years of "cat calls."