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How to Name Your Pet: Don't.

Updated on January 27, 2012
Suspicious Cat is suspicious of you.
Suspicious Cat is suspicious of you. | Source

Really, cats name themselves!

I've had several furry friends in my life. Most of them just sort of wandered up, announced I was their new human, and settled in. Currently my house is filled to the brim with cats. The pond in the back yard has a school of koi and goldfish.

Animals aren't like us. If your parents had referred to you as, "Hey, crap-pants," for the first few years of your life, you would probably have been extremely confused when your name changed to "Binky Biter." You would also wonder why you were being raised by Strongbad. Cats generally will respond to a nice, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." They probably don't care that the name you gave them is Lady Edna, Arbiter of Truth, and Wielder of the Poisoned Fang.

Nor would I expect you not to shorten that appellation to either Edna or Fang, maybe Lady. More importantly, what kind of habits does Edna have? Is she moody, gregarious, gentle, great with kids, or just plain evil? Descriptive names are easy to remember. Edna may become Bad Edna or Bad Fang, but it still doesn't matter what you choose. What does Edna like? Say her name. Does she look up? Pay any attention? Care if you die in a fiery meteorite strike?

One cat we have came with our last house. She would sleep in our bushes, hang out in our flowerbeds, and eat the food and drink the water we left out for her. During the few brief days that west Texas provides where you can open the doors and windows, she would peer in at our other kitties. And sneeze on them. Thanks for giving everyone permanent, recurring cat colds!

Her defining characteristic was that she was black. She became, quite appropriately, Black Cat. She was the Black Cat for years. She didn't interact with us much. The first winter she spent a few days in the garage. The second winter she spent a few days in the garage and decided she liked it in the house better. She adopted us completely. She's still the most independent of the lot, having lived on her own for no telling how long, but she's a sweet cat.

However, people make fun of you when you introduce them to, "Black Cat." Nice fireworks brand, bad cat name. She recognized the name, would acknowledge you when you called her, so we didn't change it. It stuck...for years.

Then one Halloween we were watching House on Haunted Hill. Vincent Price turns to his wife and says "Annabelle" and Black Cat says "mreow." My wife turns to the cat and says, "You want to be Annabelle?" The cat says, "mreow." Black Cat becomes Annabelle. She started responding to the name immediately; it was weird.

Granted, she'd been Black Cat so long, she's still Blackie or Black Annabelle or Bananabelle or some variation. But the important lesson is this: she picked her own name. Now the fish, not so much, they're either named after people or characteristics. We rarely invite them in to watch movies with us.

Annabelle disrupts Liz's crafting.
Annabelle disrupts Liz's crafting. | Source
Black Cat considers her options.  She chooses warmth.
Black Cat considers her options. She chooses warmth. | Source


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    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Most cats we've had didn't seem to know their names, but my current cat, Gemini, has responded to his name since he was a kitten. He will come to someone who says his name, and pick up his ears when he hears it. Of course, he's a very smart kitty... :) Loved your story of how Annabelle chose her name. Cats are amazing creatures!

    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Love this! I have a soft spot for people who let cats adopt them, and you and your wife have immediately earned a gold star as far as I'm concerned. =)

      This held so true with our current cat. He didn't respond to anything before Fredward! And the Prince part was added on because of his ability to show facial expressions as if you've committed treason against him.

      That cat that we're still cat-sitting is called Luna. But she's calico! She responds more to me purring at her to call her than her name, so I'm curious as to how she got her current one.

      Well-written, interesting, and funny! Voted up. =)

    • DougBerry profile image

      DougBerry 6 years ago from Abilene, TX