Why Do Cats Have Names
When They Never Answer To Them?

by MARTY CHAN


Published September 2007

Someone get me the number of a cat whisperer , because my cat won't listen to me.

While dog owners have cracked the canine code, I have yet to master the feline language. I coughed up this hairball of truth last month, when I watched a neighbor call her obedient Golden Retriever from halfway down the block. I couldn't get my tuxedo tabby to come to me from halfway across the living room.

No matter how loud or long I called for him, Buddy refused to answer. Sometimes he even rolled over and went to sleep.

At first, I worried that my cat's apathy might be the symptom of some incurable disease. A quick shake of his bag of cat treats cleared up that fear. I then began to wonder if Buddy was confused about his identity.

Before my wife, Michelle, and I adopted him, Buddy had lived under the alias Basket, which made sense when combined with his brothers name, Weaver. As soon as we brought the cat home, we knew we had to find a better name. I didn't want people to think that my cat was a basket case. Or that we were.

Michelle suggested that his appearance might inspire a fitting name, citing the fact that she had named her childhood cat, Shadow, because of his black fur. When we took a closer look at hour new cat, however, the only names that sprang to mind were Cross-Eyed Snaggletooth and Fatty McDrool.

Michelle claimed that some people named their cats after their favorite characters in fiction. She suggested Holden Caufield, the protagonist from J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye. An aloof cat named after a jaded teen? Not too far off the mark, but I thought I could do better. Michelle closed the book on the idea when I proposed a certain character from Ian Fleming's Goldfinger.

My suggestion really hit the litter box when I realized that if our cat ever ran away, I'd have to shout his name in the streets. I'd be the crazy man in the flannel pajamas asking if anyone had seen my Pussy Galore.

I also realized that whatever we called our cat would reflect our personalities. What name would say that we were well-balanced people who did not dress up our cat and make him play air guitar on YouTube video?

Buddy.  A nice, safe, innocuous name. Unfortunately, we neglected to check with the cat formerly known as Basket. Our repeated attempts to brainwash our cat to respond to "Buddy" failed.

Friends diplomatically informed me that cats were independent creatures. I could read between the lines. They were telling me that no name would ever be good enough for our cat, so why fret over a creature that so dominated our lives that we brushed him once a week, changed his litter box every second day, fed him four times a day, and knelt before his carpeted alter looking foe a catnip toy? I refused to give up though.

Desperate, I skimmed a book of baby names, hoping thatm one name would catch his fancy. Sadly, the only thing that sparked a consistent reaction from my cat was, "Hey, get down from there."


Courtesy Canwest News Service


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