Naming Your Cat

The easiest way out of this is to pick something common. Blackie, Whitey, Snowball, Midnight, Precious - these all come to mind. And they satisfy many owners. There is nothing wrong with these names. But if you want something unique, there are other sources to check for ideas.

Small children often come up with surprisingly great names, oddly enough. This is possibly due to not having the edge worn off their imaginations yet. Always pay attention to the kids' ideas. If they offer Precious or Blackie as names, though, it's possible they've already had their minds worked over by unimaginative adults or older kids. This would be a good opportunity to find a name as a family project, making them feel connected to the new kitty.

One toddler we know named the family's newly adopted cat "Uncle Joe" because he had a moustache just like, well, little Jimmy's Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe the cat subsequently became a very loved cat at his new home. I'll explain why in the next few paragraphs.

Another source for names is a baby name book. There are plenty of those available - at supermarket checkout lines, the library, magazine stands, book stores, the Internet.

Cats can be named for some physical attribute they have, such as Boots or Bootsie (though this is one of those really common names), Tux, if he's a tuxedo cat, or Stripe if he's a striped tabby. Many many cats have been named Tiger or Tigger in honor of any stripes they may have, and of course, there's always Fluffy, if they have long hair.

There are several good books on naming your cat at, too.   Or, do a search at, for example, for "pet names" and see how many lists come up.

Finding a name isn't really the problem. Finding the RIGHT name is important, however. In my opinion, a cat's name must result in what's best for that kitty. Actually, this might be true for anyone, including dogs, people and other species that commonly receive names. Being stuck with a stupid name can ruin someone's life!

The reason behind this is not that the name itself hurts the pet, but that the name may determine how the pet is treated by humans who have feelings about that name.

Let me explain. Did anyone ever call you a stupid nickname? Did you ever know anyone with a dumb name, like Stinky or Shorty or Numbskull? How did that make you feel? Did you or they live up to their names?

Studies have been done, and whole books written, about the effects of names on their owners. A name can indeed affect how people feel about themselves. It can tie in closely with self esteem and inadvertenly chart the course of one's life.

While an animal will not understand the connotations or meanings of any names, they certainly can be the butt of poor treatment by a human who has negative feelings associated with a certain name. In fact, if the above family didn't like Uncle Joe, giving the cat that name could have resulted in the cat being kicked around.

People who name their dogs Cujo may be setting up their beloved pet to be treated like a tough guy. This can encourage a "rough-house" style of interaction with the dog or cat, and it may not be in the pet's best interest to be handled roughly.

Similarly, calling a cat Fleabag may cause people to shun him, when he'd rather be cuddled and coddled - and deserves to be!

Calling him Chauncey, by contrast, may result in a sort of aloof, but respectful, approach. Cats seem to enjoy being respected, so why not?

Check out more names at Cat Name Generator.

Copyright 2014 - RJ Peters 
Dr. R.J. Peters, a retired physician, established an animal rescue shelter in 2002. She has worked with hundreds of dogs and about 1,000 cats and shares much of what she's learned, at The Problem Cat.