Does your cat have several names?

Does your cat have several names

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It is interesting that I have a habit of gradually modifying the names of my cats. The name develops and evolves. It just happens instinctively and emotionally. I don’t sit down and think about it. The new name just comes out of my mouth.

The original name remains intact and becomes the base name, the formal name, but over time the name will evolve towards more of a sound and away from a strict human name. An example of would be “Charlie” becoming “Chaggie” then “Chags” or even “Chagou”. It sounds and looks a bit odd  – some might say weird –  but that’s the way it is nonetheless.

I have even changed my cat’s name completely years after I have cared for her. That is less common. Or the person who I have lived with has decided on their own name. I don’t if that is a good idea, though.

Marc, a regular PoC contributor of insightful comments, does something very similar. Here are some extracts from his interesting comment:

“For me the name is an ever changing thing. I can have more than one name at any given time for any of my cats……. I used to call Pepi ‘Mr P’ – and am currently calling Lilly ‘Bubba’ or ‘Bubbles’ and it would sound weird if I called her Lilly now. My Gigi in Canada was actually called Ziggy but I kept slowly changing it. At one point I was calling her Jujitsu. Just because. The sound of her name and calling her changes and evolves over time with me….The name is a huge thing and very much alive for me. Not fixed.”

Marc takes name changing to another level but it is exactly the same concept that I employ. Caroline also has several names for her cat “Shrimp”.

Some visitors, including my colleagues here on PoC, might disagree with the evolution or development of an individual cat’s name over the lifetime of the cat. The argument against it would be that it confuses the cat. A cat companion gets used to a name and to evolve it, even slightly, might result in your cat being less responsive.

I disagree with that because, in my experience, cats respond to the sound. It might be a gentle whispering sort of sound or a harder one. The sound conveys the meaning and a cat can attach that sound to what happens or should happen next. On a basic level we know that cat to cat communication does not include one cat giving another a name ;). That sounds silly but it supports my argument that fixed human names are not strictly necessary from the cat’s perspective. They are for the caretaker’s benefit.

So what is going on? Why do I change my cat’s name? I am not sure to be honest. It might be a selfish thing. I might do it to please myself but I don’t think so. I think I do it because I like the sound of words and I know that Charlie responds to these sounds. They are effective.

Cats don’t understand human language. Therefore we are not bound by human language when communicating with our cat. This allows me the opportunity for free expression through sounds to communicate. It is a bit like baby talk but I am not talking to a baby. I don’t anthropomorphise my cats.

Let’s call it “cat-talk”. Sounds, body language, routines. It is all instinctive and changing a cat’s name through a gradual evolutionary process is part of that.

13 thoughts on “Does your cat have several names?”

  1. Jozef gets called Jo, Joey and daft names like The tiny man, Mr Cold feet and Our little pie crust lol… told you it was daft.
    Walter gets Walt, Wally, Walter Sparkle and Our big boy.
    Ebony was Ebby or Bones, Bryan was Bibbly Bobbly Boo, Popsy was Our little Poppy seed and Felix was Fifi lagare.
    I’d better stop going back through all our cats or the men in white coats will be arriving soon lol

    • I am so pleased you use different names. I wondered whether you would. I seems that most people do this. It is interesting because in means the original name is less important. It is a starting point and the formal/official name.

  2. I never realized how often I call Monty “Baby” until the other day when I was practicing singing the kindergartners’ sing for the Christmas program. “What little baby? Little Baby Jesus! What little baby? Little Baby Jesus!” I was kneeling on the floor plunking it out on the little keyboard I sometimes take to school with me, just checking an interval because I kept singing it wrong with the kids the day before. Suddenly there was Monty right by me. I kept working on the song and he kept trying to get my attention. I finally realized that he thought I was calling him. I do call him Baby about as often as I call him Monty– maybe more often. He was like, “I’m here already! What do you want, Mom?”

  3. I really don’t have any sort of pattern for second names. I, usually, have nicknames that are based on behaviors.
    Damon is “hoarder”
    Dreama (my brain damaged girl from dying while being spayed) is “sweet pea”
    Cora is “me. me. me”
    Starter is “pudgy”
    Desiree is “baby doll”
    Squirrel is “nutty”

    The list goes on.
    But, they all respond to their nicknames as well as their given names.

    • You kill me Dee. Priceless.

      I forgot a few for Bigfoot. Biggy, Big, Royal Bigness, Beyond Big…But like Ruth said…I’d better stop while I’m ahead. Men in white coats!

  4. I think it’s important here to differentiate between a cat’s official name, or name and then what you call your cat. What you call your cat evolves just like lovers call eachother all manner of names well with cats its the same. It’s not their name although may well come from it or evolve from it but it’s simply what you call them. At the vet you give their official name.

    Gigi in Canada’s real name is Ziggy. What I called her over the 8 years we were together went through so many things.

    As for confusion – there is none. It evolves and they keep up with the evolution.

    As for language, sounds and names – well, like Dorothy I call all my cats Booboo from time to time, perhaps even once a day. People know ‘booboo’ but opthers are more personal. I like shooshoo for some reason. My cat’s official names are actually very sound based already because I know how I am with calling my cats things and their names are predesigned to work well with that I suppose. Except for ‘Red’. But Red I was calling Puffpuff most of the time in the end. And now Molly is Minipuff. The sounds of the words express emotions. There is a whole sequence of things going on which amount to the nature or feeling of the expression you have for your cat in question. If I am telling Lilly not to do something I say ‘Billy’ in a clear voice but the rest of the time (these days of course, not permanently) its Bubbles or Bubs or Bubba.

    What you call your cat can have little or nothing to do with their name – or a lot – but it’s something in of itself. The name versus what you call your cat. 2 things. Humans are the same with each other. They call eachother things which aren’t their names.

  5. I love how cats adapt to different names and sounds. They know you are talking to them. It isn’t the letters of the words, or way the words are rout together. It is the intention of the communication. They get it completely.

    I can get the attention of wild cat Yellow from long distances, using my high loud voice calling (phonetic) “leeeeeylooooooowah, kitty kitty.” The “wah” going even higher in tone. I’m sure the neighbors call me the crazy cat lady. When she is here, and I put down her food, I say “hey Lellow beauty, how’s my girl”.

    Bigfoot is Bubbah, Booboo, doo-doo boy, monkey…I could go on.

    • Dorothy I think we are the same when it comes to how we call our cats. I also use Booboo and I also stretch the sounds and I totally relate to the way you call Yellow and how thats changing a bit each time in certain directions related to the sound and mood 🙂

  6. My Ankara Zoo cat is named Minnos with an accent under the s, but the Vet misspelled it as Minos, as in King Minos, so I am stuck with that.
    I call her Minnie, Minnox, Minik, and at Ankara Airport I called her Minoshka on account of a group of Russians who took an interest in her. It’s always good to make people laugh.


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