Pamela Merritt in her book The Way of Cats would agree with Mark Twain in how to name your cat companion. She says that the naming of your cat is an important decision because it has a lifetime influence on the relationship. Cats need something special and cat owners should show imagination partly because they can enjoy saying the name for many years to come. Mark Twain used elaborate names for his cats such as ‘Apollinaris’. He loved words and cats.
New cat guardians should take their time in naming their cat. They should “wait for it” in the words of Meritt. I’ve actually seen users of the Reddit.com website ask other users to help them name their cat. I think that’s quite a good method as it allows you to get some good ideas and it means that you are taking your time. If you wait you will learn about your cat’s character and the name will reflect it. Although it may happen quite quickly, in a moment of inspiration.
An interesting, imaginative name can be the foundation for equally interesting nicknames. I sometimes vary my cat’s name depending upon my mood and what I think is the mood of my cat. And I think Pamela Merritt would agree. For example, Merritt named one of the cats ‘Reverend Jim’. On occasions she called him “Big Ol’ Puddin’ of Love” which in her words was a long and elaborate version but it was employed to “let him know I enjoy the way he settles his front paws and head on my lap to show affection”. Cat owners can use “different names at different times” which reflect the feelings of the moment. The more the merrier Merritt says.
Merritt advises that if you don’t take the time to give your cat an interesting name it tends to imply that you’re not particularly bothered and a bland name fails to recognise the uniqueness of each individual cat. They are all different in their characters.
Interestingly, she also believes that if you give a cat a male name and she turns out to be female (and this can and does happen, and vice versa) it doesn’t matter to your cat but it might create some hesitancy in the way you say it which may be picked up by your cat. And it may create complications in talking about your cat with other people! It is important, she says, to “not make their name into a source of vocal stress.”
Cats pick up stress in their human guardians. They are sensitive to the sound of their human companion’s voice. She advises that cat guardians pick a name that makes them feel excited, interested and happy which will ensure that they say it with interest and excitement. It will be noticed.
Meritt says that cats learn their names (I would say that cats learn the sound of their names – same difference) and their human guardian should “say it with feeling”. Merritt believes that this is very important as domestic cats “very much care what we call them”.
I think I’ve learned something from Pamela Merritt’s book The Way of Cats. I’ve been rather careless in naming my cats. Although my current cat is called Gabby which is both a male and female name. He fully understands the sound of his name and comes when I use it to call him. I think that when a male cat is desexed they are feminized and therefore an androgynous-type name is probably quite suitable; a personal thought.
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