maine coon kitten sprawled on a bed belly up

Choosing a Cat Name – From Johnny Little Socks to Dame Mewdy Dench

Having trouble choosing a cat name? During my brief and tumultuous experience with art school (I know), I used to volunteer at PAWS Adoption Center in Olde City, Philadelphia, where I gained experience naming cats. I chose to do this instead of socialize with what were probably a group of okay people in retrospect, and it seemed like the rational alternative to crumpling up in a ball with the bottle of Ballantine’s I kept in my sock drawer.

So every Saturday I would wake up bright and early at the crack of noon to take the El Train to 2nd Street. Usually my job was to do the laundry, clean the cages, and tidy up the playrooms – but my favorite part about working there was coming up with names for all the cats. I’m pretty sure most of them already had names, but in order to find out what they were, I would have to actually talk to someone, and the very idea of having to use my words to gather information from a stranger sent me into a spiraling vortex of panic. Nonetheless, I was cheerfully resigned to coming up with names on my own.

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So that brings us here, to you and your new catbaby. You’ve just signed the papers on the adoption form, and now you’re wondering what to call your new furry bundle of joy? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing a cat name, compounded with my personal adventures.

Do I Go The Human Route?

One of my kitty buds at PAWS was a little white lady whom I dubbed “Blanche”. I will not confirm whether her namesake is Blanche Devereaux, one of the four saucy protagonists of the Golden Girls, nor will I necessarily deny it either. She was an older gal, one who I intuited had much wisdom to impart unto me, and the name seemed to fit her perfectly, like the sultry older noblewoman she was. This was a cat who I could envision sipping Rob Roys on the porch while idly basking in the sunlight and giving me sardonic advice on my love life. When you look at your pet, do you also see an autonomous being who goes about her daily life as any person would? Someone you can have a casual conversation with, like little miss Blanche? If so, why not take the good ol’ “My Pet Is Definitely A Regular, Small And Fuzzy Person” direction? Consider a human name for your Golden Girl. Do you have a Sphynx cat who looks like a naked little old man baby? Perfect: Benjamin Button it is.

PUNS PUNS PUNS.

One of the babies I looked after at the shelter bore the name Artemeowsia Gentileschi. A bit of a stretch, but I wasn’t ready to let all those very expensive Art History classes go to waste. And who doesn’t love a good pun? Everyone. Everyone loves a good pun. Well, everyone meaning dads and kindergarteners. But who knows, maybe your cats will appreciate them too? Consider names like Meowilyn Monroe, Jennipurr Aniston, Paul Mewman, Philip Seymour Pawman. You see where I’m going with this.

Base Your Cat Name On Appearance!

Everyone loves a fat white Persian named Snowball, or an orange Tabby named Tiger, or a grey Shorthair named Smokey. I know, I know, but where these names lack in creativity, they make up for in charm. I mean, just look at a tuxedo cat and tell me you don’t get all riled up when you find out his name is Fancy Man Mittens. “But my cat doesn’t like, look like anything in particular, Dio”, you say to me. Seek and ye shall find, my friend. I recall there being a wee tortoise shell at PAWS with colorful markings. Her coat was a mix of tawny, orange, and black, altogether making her look like one of those Chewy bars you’d get for lunch when you were in middle school. Thus, Granola was born.

GET CRAZY WITH THE CHEESE WIZ.

Sugar Honey was a delightful little fella from PAWS who used to give me little baby nose kisses, and I firmly believed that a cat so sweet deserved an equally, if not unabashedly saccharine name. Ugh, I loved him. I think about him from time to time. He filled me with the kind of love/rage that nearly makes me violent. You know what I mean. I just NEEDED him to know how preciously cute he was, and no name other than Sugar Honey would do. Don’t you just love cats so much that you want everyone to know how perfect your sweet baby darlingpuss is to you? Then cheese it up, my guy! Call your beloved new furchild something like Sir Pusspants The Valiant, or Babypudding Cuddlefrump. Or why not try Princess Picklefoot on for size? And here’s a bonus tip: for whatever totally weird Cat Science reason, it’s been proven that cats respond more often to words and names ending in an “ee” sound, like Fluffywuffy or Tummybunny. Convenient, right?

Creative cat names PAWS Philadelphia, Jack Daniels

Cat Names For Couples?

I distinctly remember a pair of cats from PAWS who took residence in one of the playrooms – one was pure white and the other pure black. In my haste I called them Ebony and Ivory, and even after realizing my lack of originality on that one, the name just stuck with me, not only for the fact that their coats matched their names, but because they were almost polar opposites in their behavior. Ebony was a friendly little dude who lapped up any morsel of attention, whereas Ivory was much more aloof and reserved. Either way, their names matched them as a pair. Perhaps you’ve made the decisions to adopt more than one cat at a time. (This is preferable for a multi-cat home, by the by, since it’s easier to have two or more cats grow up together than it is to introduce a new cat to a household that’s already been “claimed” by a feline Head of House.) Well, great! Consider names that go well together, like Sonny and Cher or Peaches and Cream. Afterall, the only thing better than having one cat is having EVEN MORE CATS!

So there you have it. Choosing a cat name for your beloved feline companion can seem daunting at first, but have no fear. Whatever you choose to name your furbaby, he will be sure to love you all the same. And if none of these options seem to be working for you, try giving it a few days before jumping to a decision. Sometimes the perfect name will pop into your head based on something your cat does, or when you notice his or her behavior start to develop. Sometimes naming your cat can be as easy as tying a cape on him and calling him “Robin”.

Tell us your cat names and how you came up with them in the comments below!

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3 Comments

  1. I have a Blue Russian Persian- His name is Blue and when called it is Blueeeee

  2. My mum named Niles, actually – his name at the shelter was Titan, but he was too gentle, quiet, and accommodating for such a “powerhouse” name. He’s a beautiful, sweet-natured golden tabby who has a thoughtful, human-like air to him, and my mum (who helped me pick him out) looked at him and said “Doesn’t he look like a Niles?” It was settled after that. He really does look like a Niles.
    (For those familiar with the TV show “Frasier”, yes, he’s named after Frasier’s brother Niles. And he’s SUCH a Niles. Very sweet, very smart, very fussy and particular. Loves me with his whole heart.)

  3. My cat’s name is Daisy, the thing is is when i say her name she always will stare at me with an expression that said all ”Deeeeesss” that’s her nic-name.

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