How did you name your cat?

There are so many different ways to name a cat. In this post I am more interested in the process of naming a cat than the name itself although they are closely related.

For instance, I tend to name cats on gut feel and sound. The name reflects the character and appearance of the cat and comes straight from me, not via a list of names on the Internet. That process does not necessarily result in better names. It does, however, result in a name that speaks to the person who created the name. It has meaning.

Missie My Late Lady Cat

So, I gave the name, “Missie”, to my late lady cat. In human, female, terms she was “petite” but athletic. A pert, opinionated lady. “Missie” seemed to fit that character and appearance. There is a phrase, “she is a right miss” not often used, but it means she is a female with attitude. “Missie” is an extension of “miss”.

Naming a cat

Naming a cat

Missie had a brother. He was a big, friendly, relatively lumbering cat. I called him “Boo Boo”. No idea where that name came from 😉 Out of the deepest recesses of my brain. Perhaps there was some cinematic influence. I am thinking of the human name “Bubba”. It seems to apply to a decent but poorly educated young American man. Bubba sounds a bit like Boo Boo. Perhaps that is where I go the name from.

Inherited Name

Sometimes we inherit a cat’s name. “Charlie” was given his name by my late mother. I believe it is a fitting name. The name is a different style or type to the one I would normally provide. It is a human name. I tend to go for sounds rather than real names.

After an Event

Sometimes, rarely, we name our cat after an event. There is a case in the newspaper today of a ginger kitten trapped inside a cavity wall for days. The rescuers named him Macavity! Neat name.


Cal calls her cat “Mr Shrimpster” or “Shrimp” for short.  That is a visual name similar to my method of naming. The name conjures up a vision of a small cat, perhaps curled up, vulnerable etc. but with a bit of attitude when the “Mr” is added. I’d like to hear from Cal in a comment as to how she came up with the name.

Marc called his beloved red tabby cat “Red”. This name suits the coat color, of course, so the inspiration, in part, came from that. Also, for me, “Red” conjures up an image of a dynamic or strong willed male human. That image probably comes from Red Adair the person who put out oil well fires. I also think of John Wayne! LOL. He played the role of Red Adair in a movie once.


When you keep an exotic purebred cat such as a Siamese, there might be a desire to use a Thai name. There are some good short ones.

Short Names

Short names of a maximum of two syllables would seem to be best because you can say them faster. The length of the name is another factor in deciding a name. It is a factor that is probably used instinctively. “Red”, “Shrimp”, “Missie” are all short.

Do you ever name your cat and then, over time, dream up nicknames (or they just arrive out of your head) and gradually, little by little, the name evolves into something different?


My late lady cat “Binnie” was initially named “Judders”, which is a slightly odd and harsh name for a lady cat. Not very feminine, either. The name “Judders” was born out of the fact that I found her under a car sheltering from the rain on a cold night. We saw each other, I spoke to her and her tail started to judder excitedly. I named her after that initial moment. Inspiration for a name can come from the initial meeting. Perhaps it always should. First impressions count. Sometimes the best comes first, on the first take.

If you trawl through a whole pile of internet cat names and select one, it is a very dry, rather stale process. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad way. Each person has their own method.

However, inspiration for a cat’s name is best plucked out of one’s own brain from a blank sheet using one’s heart.

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How did you name your cat? — 41 Comments

  1. We’ve always been able to match our cats names to their characters within days of them coming to us, with the present 2 we have though, Walter was very easy, he came from Walter Street (he says not every cat has a street named after him, so we don’t tell him the street was there first lol)
    Jozef has a black mask on his face and originally I thought of Phantom after the Phantom of the Opera, someone else suggested Zorro but we didn’t like that name and then Babz came up with Jozef which suits him very much as he has a Spanish nobleman’s profile. We took the name Joseph and put a Z for the S and a F for the PH to make it unique.

  2. We named our Scottish Fold and siamese, Baskin and Robbins, respectively.. The Folds registered name was Hearken von Baskin and the siamese Robbins of Locksley…. then came the Singapura, had to have something ethnic and easy for him so, registered was Kucintas M’Caio M’Tae, Tae for short… before that Prowler (from the icon of Prowler travel trailers) and ‘Rista (she’s a rista cat)

    It’s fun.


    • You shortened the fancy show cat names. This falls under “inherited” 😉 I like both the names: Baskin and Robbins. Quite human and functional names I would say. They are not “cute” names. The Singapura’s name is very exotic. Are the words, Kucintas M’Caio M’Tae, Singaporean (from Singapore, where the founding Sinapura is supposed to have come from?).

  3. yes, Singapuras were originally discovered in Singapore. I searched online for southeast asian and Singapore names… the catteries often have traditions in selecting a name, Kucintas being the cattery name, the males names start with M, but the name I liked was Tae, so I married the two. Of course, as a kitten he had other names!!!… Felix Catus Monsterus was my favorite!… now it is ‘Pudge’, or ‘Cougar’

  4. Yeah, well, me two, but we kitties don’t talk about that!! I also call Tae, TaeBae, and Taebbiedoodle… sometimes the nicknames are more fun than the ‘regular’ ones. We used to call the Fold “Chief Waddlepuss”

    • You do exactly what I do, create variations, nicknames, based on the original or even entirely new names. You like the sound of words and names. That is my guess. The sound of a word can more accurately reflect a cat’s character than how the word reads. That is my theory 😉

  5. I haven’t had the pleasure of personally naming any pets for a long long time. Marvin got his name by my husband. The first two years we knew. Arc, we were feeding him at the school on weekends. As you have see, he is quite rotund. My husband started calling him starvin’ Marvin sort of tongue in cheek. Well, the Marvin stuck. The school people called him Orangie. Marvin is much better.

    Bigfoot wandered into my life, and I really wanted to take care of him. We only had Daisy the dog set the time and My husband and I had never shared a cat yet. He said “well, if you are going to keep feeding him you’d better take him to the vet for a check up, but I get to name him”. By then I knew he was polydactyl. Well, you can see the rest. Hated the name at first but now I say it with great affection.

    Yellow, the still feral sweetie just has never been called anything else. Michael says she is orange, but in reality she is very blond. And so smart. She trusts me. But not to hold her or brush her.

    Shadow, my time share black cat was named by his rightful owners. He just comes here to eat and play with Yellow.

    I once had an orange cat named Ketzel. I used to feed a big Gray Tom 25 years ago that I called Macho. And he was.

    • Marvin got his name by my husband

      I think hubbie did a good job, if I may say so, because he looks like a Marvin. Sort of street-smart. As you say, Marvin is much better than Orangie.

      I think you use all the various ways of naming cats. I hadn’t included naming a cat after anatomy – Bigfoot after the large paws and Yellow after her coat. I’ll have to add that to the page.

  6. My husband and I were just remarking that Monty could have been named Marvin since he is always starvin’. (Well, he thinks so.)

    I did not name Monty. I have never named any cat and when I tried I was overridden, thankfully, by people better at selecting names than me. Every cat name I ever came up with was stupid. My mom and my sister named all our cats and my sister named Monty. Congress should enact legislation preventing me from ever naming an animal, I’m so bad at it. Had my sister not intervened Monty would have been called Snowball. I know. Terrible.

    It’s a good thing we didn’t have any kids. If I had a girl I always thought I’d name her Irene Louise after my Grandma, who was born Irene Louise Sturm. My Grandma was a wonderful person, but to saddle a young girl with a name that makes one think of elderly ladies sitting in their nursing homes, and it’s a name that is pretty in German, but not really in English. What was I thinking? Actually, Congress should pass a law prohibiting me from selecting a name for anyone or anything ever. I’m a creative person, but I can’t come up with names.

    • Irene and Louise are 2 beautiful names Ruth, old fashioned names are very enduring and much nicer than some of the made up ones for children nowadays.
      I didn’t like being Ruth as a child, there were only 2 of us in the entire school, but I grew to appreciate it and it can’t really be shortened although one vet I worked for did the opposite and called me Ruthie Ruth lol
      Our late mother was Ethel Rose and our late father George, if I had a daughter I might have called her Georgette Rose.

      • I never liked my name as a child either. I’ve noticed there are more people aged eighty and older named Ruth than there are younger people named Ruth. Every nursing home I’ve worked at has at least one Ruth living there, if not several. Surprisingly, I do have two friends and an acquaintance my age named Ruth and there is one Ruth about your age working at a nursing home, and then there’s you, Ruth. So there are a few of us around who aren’t eighty. It’s kind of fun working at nursing homes because of course I remember all the Ruths whether we see them in physical therapy or not, and when I pass them sitting in their wheelchairs I call out “Hello, Ruth!” and they call out “Hello, Ruth!” It’s the little things that really make your day sometimes. I also noticed while I was teaching school a few years ago that Evelyn was coming back as a popular name. My Grandma who had the farm with the barn cats was named Evelyn. Evelyn could make a good name for a cat. Ugh, see, I shouldn’t even try. An English teacher friend of mine had a cat named Emily Dickinson.

        • I think “Evelyn” is not too bad. 🙂 It is a bit too human. I’d have to shorten it to Evie or something but it would be suitable for a cute lady-like female cat with a ruff – tabby and white coat and a sweet face. You aren’t that bad at cat naming.

    • Congress should enact legislation preventing me from ever naming an animal, I’m so bad at it

      We could have a very interesting Freudian discussion about, “Why?”

      Monty is a excellent name. I’d like to know how your sister came up with the name.

      I am not saying I am good at it but I do it entirely by gut feel and emotion with reference to the sound of the word. Bizarre 😉

  7. What a great topic! Who’s idea was this? Bless your heart. My kitties were all named by my daughter Madeline Josephine (MJ), from age two, when she carried Lucky in her mouth, crawling, up the basement stairs. She had found Oliver’s new hiding spot fro the three-wk-old kittens, and Lucky, then black. now an 18-yr old tortie, was forever Madeline’s cat. MJ named Yeti, a blue-pt stud Himalyan, because he resembled Bigfoot [Dorothy! isn’t that cute?]

    And on and on… Panda, Luna, Oliver, Lucky (because she was Madeline’s). Michael was the only cat she didn’t name. He was adopted from the local Human Society with the name of “Fester.” We immediately renamed him “Michael,” because one of the shelter’s employees had kind of taken a liking to him, and tried to steal him from the shelter. Poor Michael, Bob the director fired him over it, and we were blessed to adopt him! He has spots on his belly, a silver tabby, with long ears and a remarkable gregarious, intelligent purrsonality. (He used to rummage round in the library and confidently walk upstairs to my bedroom with a floppy disk, a roll of Scotch tape, or whatever else he could wrap his jaws around, shove them through the crack in the bedroom door and wait for me to notice the treasure.. if I didn’t discover it within five seconds, his paw was under the door, batting at it, until I woke up from the ensuing racket and let him in. Michael could jump from the kitchen floor to the top of the fridge, ne’er missing a breath. Madeline and all of her teenage friends called him “Fester, the Cheddar Molester.” 😀

    • Who’s idea was this? Bless your heart.

      It was mine – do I get some catnip to sniff ;)?

      Michael could jump from the kitchen floor to the top of the fridge, ne’er missing a breath

      This is exactly what my late Missie could do.

      Your daughter named cats when she was two years of age? Wow.

      • M, yes she did. She’s 21 yrs of age, and working on her phD in Forensid Psychology. She’s blue-eyed AND a true red-head. Madeline just had her long, LONG, red hair chopped off to donate it to “Locks of Love.” She still looks beautiful! (I’m a grandmother of a one-yr-old grandson by the name of “Gage.”

        • You must be a proud mum (mom), which leads me to a nice thought about red-headed people and red coated cats and calico cats. Does the hair color affect temperament? I have written some articles on that.

        • That’s so awesome that she did the locks of love thing. I tried, but they didn’t want middle aged hair starting to go gray no matter how long, so now I’m 44 with waist length hair still like some kind of aging hippie chick. Not very professional. I could have parted with it for a good cause, but it’s hard to admit and act my age. Long hair past 40 is inappropriate. But I can’t seem to get up the nerve to chop it off.

          • Years ago when my hair was longer I would sit in a chair and swing my braid around and my friend’s cat Zach would go crazy pouncing on it and jumping for it. I don’t really like the name Zach for a cat, but I never told him. Two syllable names just seem better. Zach was a good kitty who would stay with me when his people went out of town. I’m sure my house still smelled of Zach when Monty came here to live here.

      • No, Michael, you do not get any catnip to sniff. But! i will make you a cup a catnip tea to drink. My friends will attest to this: you will be out of your gourd, if you drink a cup after a glass of wine.. .

  8. Sorry, I got overwhelmed and talked to fast. TMI. Michael was the employee, if you hadn’t gathered, who tried to steal Fester. In honour of Michael, that was what Fester’s name became…

    And, he was known as Fester, the Cheddar Molester, becasue–you can guess–he would open the fridge door and steal the Cheddar cheese. Can you help but love a cat like that? All the neighbors loved him. I imagine, he stole their cheese, too. (He was so gregarious that when I let him out while I was gardening, couldn’t help but notice that he was running out of the yard, and neighbors were opening their doors. 🙂

    • Your Michael was a very smart cat. I love smart cats. You can look into their eyes and make a connection with their brain…..

      Most cats don’t like it when you look them in the eye. Charlie can outstare me.

      • Gigi has always stared into people’s eyes ever since she was little. Just about every photo I have taken of her for that metter or af all of them you always have Gigi’s big eyes looking right at you but with the other 2 it depends. Actually Molly was very shy and never looked in the eye until recently. Now she does and I am so proud of her. She looks happy and relaxed and she trusts me and solicits cuddles like never before. Gig can out stare me too. She’s becoming a bit of a looker and a talker but has yet to learn about physical affection although she clearly wants it.

        • Gigi, sweetheart, then maybe you could stare into her eyes…and then slowly shut your eyes…and then…slowly open them. I’ll just bet, she’ll reciprocate. Try it, it works! One happier cat, one happier, happiest(!) human… my kitties ALL love it! 🙂 >..<

          • You are right – lots of cats respond when I do that. I always do it when I meet a cat for the first time to say I’m friendly from a distance. I think they really understand it to be a sign of friendship or love 🙂

      • Based on sound. hmmm… that is interesting. Do you mean based on the sound the cat makes? or based on the sound the human makes–

      • Marc, you dear, where do you go? (I’m sorry that you feel so badly when you have to lv. for your career, but You! are always here! do not feel that you have missed anything…we know (wow. guess i feel a part of this bond! :)) You don’t miss a beat!

        • I finally got back and have had a lovely weekend with my cats. I was only gone a few days but I sure missed them. It’s always so exciting getting home to them again. Luckily for the weekend I didn’t have to run off to work right away. This week we have a holiday on wednesday too so I will get an extra day with them. I plan to go buy them an ipad this week 🙂 – as a late coming home present.

  9. Im always busy when the best articles are out for discussion. I go for names based alot on sound. They are all 2 syllable names and I like them enough to reuse them. I have already had a Molly and a Gigi who are both now in Canada and I like the names enough that I wanted them again. Lilly is another name I like. Michael I totally understand your names. They are similar to mine as well although they came about slightly differently it would seem.

    • I’m glad you understand the idea of basing a cat’s name on how it sounds and how the sound reflects the cat’s character and appearance. It is all gut feel for me. I don’t think about. It just comes out 🙂

  10. well with my cats names. I just named after what they kinda looked like. Like Smokey i thought at first he was a smokey cat, but later found he was just a tabby and white cat. He was soo cute as a kitty wish i had of kept some photos :(. Then Rebel was already been named as with tiger and ozzie so i wanted to keep their orginal names as they were used to that. As tiger liked to suckle we nicknamed him suckles which he answers too as well. I had a friend whos name was cassandra, her colours and being tabby. I had other cats one i named blackas as with his black and white colours like marcs cat gigi. I think its nice to personalise a cat kinda human.

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