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. Ingrid King says:

    I love this post! It was fun to find out more about how your kids got their names, and I’ll admit, I was especially curious about the origin of Rolz’s name, because it’s so unusual. The photos, as always, are wonderful!

    Allegra came with her name, and it fit her joyful, bubbly personality perfectly. Ruby was called Cinnamon when I adopted her, but since there are probably thousands of torties named Cinnamon, I wanted something more original for her. I wanted another gemstone name, and settled on Ruby. It’s a heart chakra stone, and Ruby has certainly brought a lot of love into my life!

    • Deb says:

      Cinnamon? Oh Ingrid, I can’t imagine Ruby any name but Ruby, it is so perfect for her! I always wondered about Allegra, now I know!

  2. Shayne says:

    Piper is my Havana Brown/Tonkinese shelter kitten now cat mix

    Piper I got the inspiration to get a black cat from Charmed (which his name came from one of the lead characters) …despite being a girls name Piper is 100% male. 🙂

    Emony is my Snowshoe/Ragdoll mix

    Emony I got as a feral wild kitten from a bad shelter. She was horribly emicated, skinny, fraile, etc…
    I was big into Star Trek Deep Space Nine and she was named after the character of “Emony Dax” -one of the hosts from the “DAX” host from Deep Space Nine. 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Wow Shayne – I don’t watch Star Trek, so I never would have guessed Emony’s namesake! Thank you for dropping by and sharing!

  3. Bernadette says:

    I love hearing name stories as much as I love seeing kitten photos! A very few of my cats’ names came with them like Kelly, initially fosters were named for ancestors like Stanley and Sophie, most were named for authors or characters in stories I was reading like Moses, and some of those names migrated to something the cat chose themselves, like Cookie. When I fostered litters of kittens, I found group names like Allegro and other musical terms for that litter. Initially Mimi and her children were all named after the characters in the opera La Boheme because of Mimi’s Bohemian lifestlye, but only Mimi’s name has stayed, all the others have modified or completely changed. We took Old Possum’s advice about the naming of cats very seriously!

    • Deb says:

      Bernadette – I agree with you! This has been so much fun having everyone share how or why they named their kitties! Very interesting that Mimi’s name is the only one that stayed! And yes, it is a very serious business, naming a cat!

  4. Deb says:

    Great post today.. So much personality in a name, sometimes you have to adjust as they grow with nicknames.
    My girl Kya, came to us at two months old from a local shelter. She picked me as I looked at her and her litter mates. She is a grey tiger with a lot of swirling on her sides..almost Bengal in appearance (marbled) . She has a diamond shape on the back of her head/neck. Her name is African origin meaning “diamond in the sky”. Thought that was perfect for her…she is a diamond in the sky 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post today Deb! And yeah, I didn’t even go into that subject – nicknames – or this post would have been a mile long!! I love the name Kya and it sounds perfect for a cat with Bengal tendancies.

  5. Vicki Cook says:

    Thanks for sharing the stories of your kitties and their names. I will admit that I naming-impaired. If a cat comes with a name, I generally won’t change it. Otherwise, I’ll live with it for a while to see what sticks. My current crew is: KC (as in kitty cat), Zelda (from the video game), Breckin (he’s an outside cat that comes over everyday for breakfast), Boyzie (comes from little boy) and Sugar (came with her name).

    • Deb says:

      Happy to share the story Vicki! “Naming impaired” – that is too funny!! I am quite insane over the process, although I have had my share of less than creative moments, for example, we had a rabbit named “Bunny.” Years ago, my house was literally a farm and it was hard to keep up with the animals! Bunny was just easy!

  6. Brian says:

    All of us came with the names we have, except for Gracie who was named Smokey of all things. She Graced us so that’s how she got that name. Dad is posting (on our rescue blog) tomorrow about a kitty named Purris Hilton!

  7. Marg says:

    It would take a book to explain how we all got our names. Our Mom is not good at naming kitties and it usually goes by our color. Momma kitty was spitting out kittens so fast, she had to come up with names quickly. Anyway, love all the names of your kitties and cats. Pictures are great too. Take care.

  8. Carolyn says:

    So interesting to read of how the kitties got their names 🙂 I was interested in how Rolz got his too!

    Austin came with his name and I didn’t change it. He was called it as Austin is a make of a car and he was found injured in one and taken to the RSPCA. My brother calls him The Poo, also Mr Poo and I mostly call him The Boy or My Boy, when he’s being sweet !!!

    Lovely post 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Carolyn – I can’t even begin to imagine Austin as any other name. It absolutely suits him perfectly!!! Somehow I don’t think he would be thrilled that you shared the “Mr. Poo” secret!!

  9. Sally Bahner says:

    Pulitzer chose his name. He was adopted as the office kitty for the newspaper I was working for. We ran his photo and held a contest to determine his name. We received 70-80 entries, which was probably the biggest response of anything we published. Each of us in the office — well, three of us — picked three names that we liked from the entries. We put the papers on the floor and the first one he stepped on was his name — Pulitzer.
    Since he’s a bit of a dufus, he definitely had to grow into his name…
    When the office relocated he came to live with me (naturally). That was about 10 years ago, and yes, he’s still somewhat of a dufus!

    • Deb says:

      Sally – I LOVE his name and think it is a riot that he had to grow into his name!! Our Zee is a dufus too, but his name does not have the same expectations to live up to as Pulitzer!!

  10. Cheysuli says:

    I came with my name. My breeder was a fantasy novel fan. My mother was Guinevere and my father was Strider the Ranger.

    Gemini found the woman (literally on her doorstep) the day after the second of two cats died within 10 days of each other. The Male took the letters from the names of the two cats and had a program run to see what words and names could come out of the combination. When Gemini popped out, the Woman decided it was perfect. She was filling the shoes of not one, but two very beloved cats. Also, she was part feral so she you would see her and she’d hiss. Hold out a hand with food and she’d turn into this little purr, love machine as she tried to chew off the finger. It seemed to fit.

    Ichiro was supposed to be for the Male (although he likes the woman better). Therefore the Male got to name him. It was either Pete Rose (he’s a Reds fan) or Ichiro (we live in Seattle, so how can you not like the M’s?). The woman lobbied for Ichiro as there are so many Pete’s around!

    • Deb says:

      Chey – I will admit I was always curious about your name and am thrilled you shared your story! The name Gemini is perfect under the circumstances and I prefer the Ichiro as well!!

  11. I am with Ingrid, I LOVED THIS! Total LOVE!!

    Let’s see…my Bobo came as a result of my ex husband’s first cat. He had a tabby named Bobo who was hit by a car. My ex was devastated because he adored that cat (he had him when he was growing up). The day we found OUR Bobo (who was a stray), he told me that this cat was IDENTICAL to what we would later call”the original Bobo” I hated the name Bobo until I saw photos of the “original” Bobo They WERE identical. I always felt that his “original” Bobo had returned to him in the form of our 2nd Bobo. Guess I am mean because when divorced…I took BOBO! lol

    Cody’s name was actually “Prince”….my husband said I should have kept that name because of Cody’s love of sitting in high places and on our “regal” looking dining room chairs. When I met Cody I wanted a “C” name (to go with my name) I had always liked the name “Cody” The woman that was fostering Cody begged me not to name him Cody because she said “every Cody she had ever known was nuts”….I didn’t listen…I named him Cody….YES….he IS nuts but I wouldn’t have him any other way. We also enjoy calling him “Cody, The Cat Formerly Known as Prince”

    • Deb says:

      Wow Caren… I knew Bobo was a special cat, but I did not realize he was a namesake special cat! Thank you for sharing that story! And Cody is a great name – much better than Prince, plus it is way more cool that you can call him “Cody, The Cat Formerly Known as Prince!!!”

  12. Loved reading about your kitty names. I wrote an article about using numerology for choosing pets names which I find helpfuI in determining personality. Our most recent cats are one-eyed Odin, a home-loving #6 named after the Norse one-eyed god and gray Gris Gris, a spiritual # 7 named after a Voodoo good luck talisman and Gris is French for gray.

  13. My parents found an orange kitten. Mom named him Sparky. Since I was looking for an orange tabby, they gave him to me. I renamed him Nacho. Took him home — and he promptly ran up the drapes, jumped down, then ran up the screen door. Name immediately changed back.

  14. Mommy let daddy name us cuz he’d never had kitten before. Being a physicist, he came up with all sorts of wild and unpronounceable names. She put her foot down when he pulled out a pair of names based on particles: Lepton & Tachyon. They settled on two famous physicists: Faraday and Maxwell, who wrote the theory & equations that explain electromagnetism.
    Faraday was almost named Joule instead (a Joule being a unit of energy but pronounced Jewel) but the famous physicists’ name won out in the end.

    Allie was named – again by daddy – after a period of study in ancient middle eastern history. He’d been reading from Alexander the Great all the way up to the fire that burned the great library of Alexandria. Since Allie looked a bit like one of the sphynx drawings from Egypt (especially with her narrow face and oversized ears when she was young!), he named her Alexandria. Allie, for short.

    • Deb says:

      Ryker’s Boyz ‘n’ Allie – I think you guys get the award for the craziest and most unique thought process for picking out names!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

  15. Oh! We forgot to tell you how much we loved reading about how Rolz got his name!! Fun article!!

  16. Always love hearing about your brood and I remember some of the naming info from your wonderful book. But those baby kitty photos — OMC, squee worthy for sure!

  17. Oopsatini, I forgot I was gonna share about my babies. Mickey got his name because as a teeny tiny lad he squeaked like a mouse. My rescue baby Rocky was quite ill when I took him in, but I could see he had a fighting spirit. My other rescue baby Annabelle, I was thinking of Little Orphan Annie.

    • Deb says:

      Oopsatini!! What an adorable word Julia!! I have never heard that before!! Your names are perfect based on the descriptions you just shared!!

  18. Franzi Stephen says:

    Our cats have always had non-cat names. Bailey was named for her color and Nikolai (or Nicky the lovable Terrorist) for a Book character (Shibumi). When they passed away at ages 18 and 16, we knew we would adopt again. Seeing that we did not want a “Muffin” or “Pooky”, we had names all picked out before we even went to the shelter. There, we met a very shy little girl named Teloni and an awesome, calm boy named Tenzing. Falling in love with the cats and the names, we adopted x 2 and kept their names. Tenzing lives up to his name by climbing everything but we have not been able to find a true origin of Teloni’s name. We thought it sounded Hawaiian but the only thing we could find was a town by that name in Italy. Zoe and Sam were named because those would have been their names had they been human. The only one in the house that doesn’ thave a name is the Beta whose name is “Fishy” – actually, it’s Curacao but nobody calls him that. 🙂

  19. RumpyDog! says:

    June Buggie’s REAL name is Junior. But as with silly humans, they tend to make cutesy names for us, and Jen called Junior June Bug. Then THAT turned into a cutesy name… June Buggie. I wonder what she’ll call him next? Buggaboo?

  20. Our mom wanted us to have human names. Wally is named after our mom’s dad. His name was Walter, but mom didn’t want to call a cat that. Some people called him Wally…so mom went with that nickname! Crazy, right?? Ernie is a polydactyl…7 toes on each of his front feets, and 5 on each of his back ones. Who’s the famous guy with polys? None other than Ernest Hemmingway…thus Ernie. Zoey, well, that’s a tough one. After trapping a stray cat, mom and dad had to come up with a name for her. The only one they agreed on was Zoey. And what’s funny is that one of Zoey’s nicknames is Zee!

    • Deb says:

      Wow Island Cats… I love how the names evolved, and I especially love that one of Zoey’s nicknames is Zee (and we are from Florida where Hemingway house is!!!)