FloridaWild Vet Hospital

Naming a Cat is an Art: Learn it by Listening to Your Kitty

Little Miss Gray (FloridaWild patient)

If you are already a kitty guardian, then you know the wondrous joys of being owned by a cat. My life has been profoundly enhanced by sharing my heart and home with numerous amazing small felines over the years. For those who may be considering adopting a first kitten or cat, you are about to embark on one of the most fascinating adventures you will ever have.

Some people still think cats are little dogs, but this is far from the truth. In fact, house cats are rapidly becoming the most popular pet in the United States. These diminutive predators are different from the canine species as far as their needs, personalities and behaviors are concerned.

A veterinarian friend of mine, an expert in all things feline (and a passionate kitty lover) recently mentioned she considers cats to be similar to small alien beings in our midst. She said, “It’s like meeting someone from outer space – a kind of “Star Trek” moment. They are indeed mysterious creatures.” In caring for a feline one must be gentle and “meet” the cat on its terms and love it unconditionally.

In anticipation of your new arrival, you have made preparations to welcome in your new permanent fur-family member. You have all the available accouterments with which even the fussiest feline is sure to appreciate. You have all the required number of litter boxes – one for each cat plus one and have fragrance-free cat litter, pooper scoopers, and porcelain, ceramic or metal food and water bowls ready.

To admirably nurture this kitty you have stocked up on nutritious species-appropriate, grainless canned varieties According to Feline whisperer, Jean Hofve, DVM, dry food is not appropriate for cats.

Leo with his siblings (all FloridaWild patients)

To “Catify” your home you have at least one cat tree, a few scratching posts and an assortment of toys; both interactive feather toys, catnip mice and other alluring “prey” to spark your cat’s hunting instinct. You have provided kitty a window box from which she can watch birds, squirrels and other wildlife because “kitty TV” is truly an essential ingredient to help prevent boredom. These “nature programs” will entertain your cat for hours on end. Congratulations! You have created an excellent feline-enriched environment.

Since your kitty is thrilled with her new digs and accessories, of course, the next step is to name your cat. Take it from me, and this task is not simple. Instead, it is an awesome responsibility. You might want to ask friends for suggestions, however, based on my experience of trying to force a name on a cat – this is not a good idea. Trust me. When cats are ready, they will reveal their real name to you. All you have to do is take the time to “listen” for it.

Aki (FloridaWild patient) photo by author

Many years ago we were gifted with a seal point Siamese kitten named “Teerapat” by the breeder. He refused to answer us. We noticed he had a very long tongue and also had an odd habit of starting to lick anyone who petted him. We soon realized he was telling us his name. Since he was Siamese, it was “Mousie-Tongue” (a humorous play on words for Chairman Mao Tse Tung). When we used that name he responded immediately.

Years later we were given an Oriental Shorthair kitten who arrived with his registered name, “Moonraker.” We quickly discovered nothing about him had anything to do with James Bond, nor the evil character who was making nuclear weapons. The kitten was extremely mischievous, always getting into significant predicaments. We thought his name was Trouble, but we didn’t want to jinx him, so the name Hubble came to us, but he wouldn’t respond to that name. A few weeks later while he was in my lap, my husband started commenting about how pink his nose and paw pads were. His name hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was Sir Hubble Pinkerton. The first time we used it, he looked up to us with great relief!

While it may be easier to seek advice for a name, just watch your cat’s quirks, funny antics, facial expressions and how your cat shows you affection. By listening carefully and trusting the process, I promise your kitty will reveal their name.

By Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (Ret.)

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