Thursday, 7 April 2016

What's In A Name? Sometimes, A Little Too Much ...

If you've ever had a pet, how did you figure out what to name it?

I have no imagination at all when it comes to finding a suitable name, but thanks to the internet I know how clever other people can be. A very short search brought me Goober Mcfatkins, Lord Chubby Pruneface, Rosie Picklebottom, and Schnitzeltooth for dogs, and Dusty Mop, Edward Scissor Paws, Piffington, and Toby Turbo for cats (all from this website). And these plays on the words cat, kitten and purr: Catapult, Catastrophe, Catatonic, Kitkat, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Purrfect, and Purrkins, as well as Flufferton, Tiddybombom and Spaz (found here). I have known cats named Him and Her, as well as a dog named Bear. And there are lots of simpler names like Fluffy or King, and the whole spectrum of human names, and finally there are those generic names we use for every cat or dog we come across, like Kitty or Pup.

It's that last category that I decided to draw from when our newest cat, a stray, showed no signs of moving on to someone else's home (someone with a better imagination, I suspect). I spent most of my time calling her "sweetie", so I thought, why not just name her that? It made me feel sensible and competent to always be able to remember my cat's name, very unlike the feeling I've gotten at other times such as when I addressed my son by my own name.

So "Sweetie" she became.

Then I took her to the vet for her first checkup. We got registered by owner name and pet name. No problem. Sat down to wait. Finally an older male vet entered the waiting area and bellowed the cat's name. Sweetie! There was nothing to do but stand up and go in. It didn't faze the vet - I'm sure he's heard worse - but my embarrassment level was a little high.

I spent several days after that agonizing over a new name, and finally Sweetie officially became Lulu - four letters, two identical syllables - should be easy to remember, right? - and completely unremarkable for future visits to the vet. Gotta say I still can't remember it half the time, and revert to "Sweetie".


Tell me, how did you decide on a name or names for your pet(s), past or present or both?

Sweetie may look laid back ... and possibly overfed ...
... but she's a total ninja at hiding in gift bags and hogging the computer.


14 comments:

  1. When I was young, we got one dog that already had a name when we got him from the Humane Society. He was Dandy. Then, eventually, we loaned that dog out for sire, and then when the puppies were born, we got one of the babies, and I named him Toby — get this, after the name of one of the characters in the miniseries ROOTS. In retrospect, it was a very politically incorrect name because it was the name given to one of the African slaves in that show. Ugh.

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    1. My younger self can still cause my current self to blush in horror. I hear you.

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  2. In the last years of his life, a cat adopted my father. He named her Katherine, so no one would irritate him by calling her Kitty. My mother always felt he named her for his first fiance.

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    1. I feel there is a post in there somewhere, if you haven't already written it. Have you?

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  3. We just recently moved into the house where we live, and one of the many benefits of living here is a very sweet orange and black cat, who doesn't seem to have a name. She gets called "cat" and "kitty" a lot, but the other day I saw a video on Youtube called zebra vs. horses which explains how the particular animals we have domesticated got to be that way. It pointed out the difference between cats and dogs by calling cats "tiny tigers that live in your house." So I have taken to calling the cat Ti Ti, short for tiny tiger. We'll see whether or not she takes to it...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. That is a good name for calling her and teaching her to respond, or so I've read - anything with a distinct consonant sound that is repeated, like a T, P, S, etc. So is she *your* cat yet?

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    2. I don't know if I would say that she's "mine", but she's sleeping on the back of this couch where I'm sitting with my laptop.
      Really it seems closer to the truth that she has gained two more servants to let her in and out, give her treats, and make sure she has interesting places to sleep...

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. Yeah ... probably more correct to say that you are "hers" :)

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  4. Years back we acquired a small brown tabby (the sole survivor when a complete oxygen thief left her and her siblings in a cardboard box on the road). No name. While we were considering what to call her she crapped in my clean washing. And again the next day. Her name was Mud.
    Later we had a white cat move in on us. He had been living down the drains and took to sneaking into the house to scoff our cat's leftovers. The white cat is back we would say. When he took the plunge and moved in he became WhiteCat. And lived a very happy life. From a cat who was so hungry he ate the paper the cats food rested on, he became a cat who was partial to avocado - unless it had brown bits.

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    1. I love both of these stories! Perfect name for Mud and heartwarming change in WhiteCat.

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  5. Oops, I don't know how I could have commented on this post and forgot to include this, but I did. It's a T S Eliot poem called The Naming of Cats:

    http://allpoetry.com/The-Naming-Of-Cats

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I love it, Doug. Made a copy for my personal digital poetry collection - thank you.

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  6. I had two dogs names Sam. The most recent was a rescue dog named Sam,and the first was a family pet from childhood-I don't remember how he got his name. And a goldfish named Goldy. I guess we're not all that creative either. However, my mother had a big black cat she named Dick and she often would call for him from the back door of her house using the same adjectives. God bless her.

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    1. The light dawned slowly in my innocent brain and then I couldn't stop laughing :) Thanks for that!

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