The Naming Of Cats

The Naming Of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum–
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over;
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

–T.S. Eliot, “The Naming Of Cats”

With all apologies to T.S. Eliot, our naming is not all that delicate matter. But some thoughts should certainly be given to it. Giving me a foolish or ugly name on the spur of the moment because it sounds funny is no way to start a relationship. It encourages a careless and disrespectful attitude toward me not only in you, but in other people as well. A bad name encourages a bad attitude toward me. Fortunately, coming up with a good name can be fun and there are endless possibilities for ideas.

One very popular way for finding a good name is to look up the names of stars, galaxies or constellations. You don’t have to stick with just the major ones. Look up some of the minor constellations and stars as well. You could find just the perfect name in a constellation you had previously never heard of. You too may find you have a Dorado or Indus on your hands. Another popular means of naming us is using human names. Matilda, Annie, Pete and Bobby are all quite popular. Some people name us after movie stars or characters in a favorite film or book. Surely, at this very moment, there are a large number of Frodos purring contentedly on their favorite windowsill right now.

A Calioco cat can be named Patch or Ink blot


Another good way to name us is by using something in our appearance to name us. Many calico colored cats among us have been simply named Calico. Spotted ones of any color frequently have the name of Patch. One of us was named Shadow because her black and tan tiger stripes seemed to melt into the late afternoon shadows the first time her new owner saw her. A gray kitten was quite suitably named Ash.

Sometimes it is something I did that suggested my name. If one of us had a habit of scaring himself silly. When I and my siblings first learned to climb trees, I became over excited and rushed up higher than I was brave enough to climb down from. The poor little guy clung to a branch crying at the top of his lungs while we rushed around trying figure out a way to get him down. It only required a stool to retrieve the little guy, but he was sure he was stuck halfway to the moon. Another time he managed to get his head stuck between the slats on an old corn crib. He was safely rescued after considerable effort. Due to this undeniable talent for scaring himself, he was named Spook.

Sometimes it is our personality that suggests the name for me. A bold little explorer among us who was the first in his litter to explore the world outside our nest was named Boone. A handsome brown kitten was so very fastidious in everything he did (Among us, the one who never puts ones’ paws in the food dish, that’s dirty!) that he was eventually named Thomas.

Naming me can be a pleasant and entertaining task. It’s often the very first thing a person does when he or she picks us out as companions. Take a little time to select just the right name for me. A good name will set your new relationship off on just the right foot.

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2 thoughts on “Naming A New Cat: What the Cat Wants You to Know

  1. I remember reading Webster’s article about not letting the family dog name the Manx. My owner let a ridiculous rottweiler name me. He calls me stubby nubby, ninny nubby, etc. I now need to go to therapy to regain my confidence. Luckily, I see Dr. Ruth German Rex cat and she is helping me overcome my tail envy….. So name your cat carefully and you will save money by not having to send them to therapy…

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