The question is really asking whether your cat will recognise his name if you change it. You are naturally concerned that your cat has got used to his name, perhaps given to him by a cat rescue centre or a previous owner, and if you change it he won’t respond to his new name.
I think that there are two considerations. The first is that domestic cats respond to the sound of their name and not to the name per se as humans respond to their names. Domestic cats don’t understand names as humans do. Secondly, names do sound differently when spoken and therefore if throughout the life of a 15-year-old cat he has heard one sound representing his name and responded to it, he may not respond to a new name. So, I think that the length of time that a cat has listened to a particular name is a factor as to whether you change it. If, for example, your cat is 7 years old and for all of his life you have called him Ollie and then decide to change his name to Fred I don’t think that that is a great idea. I’m not saying it is completely idiotic and should not happen. I just don’t think it’s not the best way to proceed.
How old is the name?
Personally, I would suggest that it is okay to change a cat’s name if, for example, a cat rescue centre has given him a name because he had no name beforehand. I would also suggest that it is alright to change your cat’s name if they had their name for a couple of years or so. But if you adopt an elderly cat from a lady who has, for example, passed away I think it would be a good idea to retain his name.
That said, I don’t think it is super important because cats are flexible and you might hate his current name. You really want to change it and you should change it even if for a short while your cat might not recognise and respond to the new name. Cats are not like dogs anyway. They don’t respond in quite the same way as dogs do to being called by their name.
My cat does respond to his name. He is about six years old. I wouldn’t want to change his name at this stage because I like the way he responds to it. That means that I can call him to ask him to come to me. Here’s another reason why changing a cat’s name isn’t quite so important as it would be for dogs. Cats don’t come consistently when you call them by their name. They might come sometimes but they don’t come diligently and as a loyal servant would. Therefore the use of the name in this context is less important than it would be for dogs.
TO THE ANIMAL a cat’s name is less important than a dog’s name
The importance of a name to a cat is quite low in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t matter that much. It should please the cat’s guardian. It should suit the cat’s appearance and character. Those are the most important aspects of a cat’s name and not whether they respond to the sound of it. Each person will have their own views on this. The topic is very subjective. There are no rights and wrongs and there is no black-and-white answer.
Some more on cat names