What’s in a Name?

Since I spend a significant amount of time social networking, I can’t help but notice there are A LOT of really creative cat names that I have seen on blogs, facebook, and twitter. Clearly, and rightly so, choosing a name for your cat is an event. Sometimes the process is almost instantaneous and a name will pop right into your head as immediately perfect and sometimes it can take weeks (or longer) to figure it out as you bond with your cat and try to get a feel for what name best suits the personality, or markings, or breed, or whatever…

Since you all know my gang of seven felines by now, I thought I would share how and why they got their respective monikers. I will start with Jazz who is my male Ragdoll and our eldest cat at 14 years. Jazz falls into the category of “it was a process.” I happened to be watching a show about cat breeds on Animal Planet one afternoon and saw a cat that I had never heard of before – a Ragdoll – and I fell completely in love with this adorable ball of fluff and promptly decided I wanted one as a Mother’s Day gift, which, coincidentally and conveniently, was only a couple of weeks away! It must have been fate, because shortly thereafter, I saw an ad in the classified section of our local paper advertising Ragdoll kittens and I promptly grabbed my family to go pick out my early present (the Internet did not exist back then… does anyone remember newspapers?)

A very young Jazz before his full colors developed.

A name did not come as quickly to me as I had thought it would. Ragdolls are a gorgeous combination of creamy mocha’s, caramels, chocolates, coffees, and latte colors and I had figured on some sort of name to compliment these types of beverages. However, when you get a Ragdoll kitten, their markings are quite indistinct and it can take several years for the true colors to fully develop. Much as I tried to envision one of these beverage inspired names that I had jotted down in list format, he just didn’t seem like a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks kind of cat to me. Jazz was so sweet, entertaining, and playful from the start, that somehow “Jazz” popped into my head one day because jazz music always made me happy and so did this lovable and affectionate kitten. As Jazz has aged, his name has now been relegated to the more distinguished “Mr. Jazz” which is far better suited to his mature status.

Sweet Harley as a kitten.

Harley was our next resident and I got her from a cat rescue. The circumstances were sad – I had lost a beloved pet dog to a car accident and somehow I just felt a hole in my heart that would not go away and I knew it was time for me to welcome another animal into my life that needed a home and some love. Back then, Dan and I were dating and serious Harley riders. It was kind of a no-brainer – when I got to the shelter, she literally jumped into my arms and was orange and black like the Harley brand… Next…

When we first got Zee, he did not have any of the long coat or mane of fur that he now has.

Zee came as a direct result of Dan. Many years prior to him moving in with me, he had a Maine Coon that meant the world to him and it was his favorite breed of cat. I had wanted his moving in with me to be extra special and I thought the perfect housewarming gift would be a Maine Coon kitten that could grow up with us and signify the love of our relationship. It literally took me months to find him this cat – for whatever reason, there were no kittens available during the time frame I was looking, and when I finally found one I had to react quickly because Dan was going to be moving in any day. I found him through a breeder and his father was apparently the largest registered male Maine Coon at the time in the United States – 35 pounds – and his name was Zeeba. Since it was to be Dan’s cat, I gave him the honor of naming him, and he literally picked the abbreviated name “Zee” almost instantly after I asked him if he had any name ideas!

Zoey has been picture perfect gorgeous since the moment we brought her home.

Zee was a result of Dan, and Zoey was a result of Zee. Zee was quite a handful as a kitten and when we got him, Jazz was already an adult cat and set in his ways. Harley was a very shy and reserved cat, and the other cat I had, Kit, was an ailing senior, who, while not disliking Zee, was too old and frail to play with him. Zee was becoming more aggressive and bored as each day passed and really seemed to need a feline companion closer to his age to share his pent up energy with. I had always wanted a Bengal (no surprise given my obvious love and obsession with all things leopard) but I did not think it would be fair to bring a kitten into the house with the state that Kit was in. I wanted Kit’s last days with us to be as peaceful as possible and  a kitten, especially a kitten with as much exuberance and zeal as a Bengal,  would bring undue stress on her. Once she passed over the Rainbow Bridge,  I began to look for a kitten and I had actually picked Zoey’s name out before we even picked her up from the cattery! Somehow I just felt that the name suited the Bengal personality – smart, high-spirited, playful, athletic, quirky, bossy, and sexy! Ironically, this name is now on every TV show that you see, but back then, it was relatively unknown. Zoey lives up to her name in every way I imagined and to her credit, she sure did solve Zee’s aggression and loneliness. So much so that he fell head over heels in love with her the moment we brought her into the house and they have been a love-story couple ever since. Which brings me to three more names that I had not planned on… I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I was not as informed about cats as I am today and Zoey had kittens before I had a chance to get her to the vet. I thought I had time, but nature beat me to the punch and the rest is history.

The kittens were 3 weeks old here... I have NO IDEA who is who!

Even today, now that they are three years old, I still get them mixed up at quick glance. But when they were younger, it was almost virtually impossible to tell them apart. The only one that ever stood out was one of the males, he had a lighter fur color than the others and almost from day one of his birth, he had an endearing trait – he would roll on his back and we always called him “Rolly-Poly.” Out of respect to the “z” in Zee and Zoey’s name, we thought that “Rolz” would be perfect – it would incorporate the “z” of his parents, but also signify his tendency to roll on his back! This left the girls. I had picked the name Mia early on in my head for whichever female we were going to keep. I just loved how feminine the name was and felt it would be perfect for either of the females. It turned out to be an easier decision than I thought it would be. One of the girls just seemed to be slightly smaller than the other and the runt of the litter. We kept referring to her as “Peanut” because of her slightness and endearingly sweet and happy personality.

At 2 weeks old, Rolz was already doing his "Rolly Poly" thing. He is lighter than the others and it was probably Peanut, our little clown, who he is on top of and making laugh!!

Peanut is no longer the runt, but she still has that sweetness and the name is perfect for her friendly nature. We could not bear to part with her and decided to keep her as well, with the only kitten we ended up giving away, the infamous Zeuss Catt, the other male who lives in Boston and guest posts on occassion. It turns out that Mia is the tiniest of all the kittens and she is a very shy and reserved cat with a very slight and feminine frame with gorgeous swirled markings on her coat. I like to call her my little princess and just recently she has become more talkative and social and I think she is telling us that she agrees that her name is perfect for her!

Sweet and petite Mia with her pretty swirl pattern at top left, Rolz (who continues to live up to his name), and our lovable Peanut in front who has grown into a lovely cat.

So, that’s the story of my gang – I would love to hear your comments as to how your cat(s) got their names!!

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  1. meowmeowmans says:

    I love this post, Deb!

    Sam and Moose were given their names at PAWS, where we volunteer (and where we adopted them from). Moose is a big (tall and long) cat, so that was how they named him. Of course, now he’s known as “Moosey,” “Peepers,” and “Cootie.” And Sam is now “Sammy,” “Dootie,” and “the Doots.” They have so many nicknames, it’s a wonder they ever come when we call them. MOL

    • Deb says:

      Meowmeowmans, that is so funny about the nicknames and you are so right, it is a wonder that they come when called – with our house of seven, we probably have over 30 names collectively when you count the nicknames!!

  2. Such beautiful cats! I really like the names too. I think the important thing is the names’ significance to you, the human, and what it reminds you of.

  3. Charlene says:

    My 5 year male has now been dubbed Tater . He started out as Rush my son named him that because as a kitten he always rushed around the house. My daughter demanded he have a middle name gave him Puddin Tater. So he became Rush Puddin Tater which has now resulted in calling him Tater and it fits him for some strange reason. My 3 month old kitten on the way home from getting her I started calling her Boo Boo. She is wide open all the time and I have now started calling her Boob-a-lee-boo she comes running when I call her that so I guess it has stuck. 🙂