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The Naming of Cats

John W. Pinkerton


The naming of cats is a great responsibility not to be taken lightly.  Our first cat was Bob, but Bob was first named “Sugar” by me.  

Sugar Bob

Sugar's the name we gave our cat.

Sweet, she was certainly that.

But once  walking away,

Strange changes “she” did display.

Now, she's “Bob” when we chat.

From Bob onward, I took more care to determine gender before assigning names.  It seemed prudent.

From Bob forward for many years, I took responsibility for naming our cats.  I was the official household namer of cats.

In my early days of naming cats, I tended to lean toward exotic names, unusual names: Stitch, a great cat who liked walking around in the rain with his head turned to the sky; Bear, a sweety who was a favorite of Linda's; and Possum who lived to be 22 years old.

Possum Loves Linda

Possum loves Linda with all her cat love:

Sees Linda as sent from Heaven above, 

But she has no leftover love for me: 

To her I'm just the petite bourgeoisie. 

She moves away when I enter a room. 

For me she has an expression of gloom.

No joy can I discern on her visage. 

My quick departure is what she wishes. 

For years I've suffered this cat's attitude.

By her as a wretched creature I'm viewed.

But my old heart still has love for this cat

Even though she sees me as a big rat.

As time progressed, my choices became more mundane.  I think the first mundane name was “Bill”---great cat.

I carried this responsibility for years, but finally relinquished the job to Linda…I believe I was waiting for her to become mature enough for the responsibility.

She does a great job of naming cats and seems to enjoy the task.

However, Linda’s role as the namer of cats has temporarily been interrupted by a tiny fellow who squeezed her way past other cats to make a claim on the inside of our home.  She seemed to take to me pretty quickly: we both talk a lot and she seemed to like sitting on my chest as I recline in my easy chair.  Linda has given me temporary license to name the youngster.

While contemplating the possible name, I remembered and reviewed T. S. Elliot’s poem, “The Naming of Cats.”

The Naming of Cats 

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,

     It isn't just one of your holiday


You may think at first I'm as mad as a


When I tell you, a cat must have THREE 


First of all, there's the name that the

           family use daily,

Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo, or


Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or 

          Bill Bailey-

     All of them sensible everyday names.

There are fancier names if you think

          they sound sweeter,

     Some for the gentlemen, some for the


Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra,


     But all of them sensible everyday


But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's


     A name that's peculiar, and more


Else how can he keep up his tail


     Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish

        his pride?

Of names of this kind, I can give you a


     Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or


Such as Bombalurina, or else


     Names that never belong to more

       than one cat.

But above and beyond there's still one

       name left over,

     And that is the name that you never

       will guess;

The name that no human research can



       and will never confess.

When you notice a cat in profound


     The reason, I tell you, is always the


His mind is engaged in a rapt


     Of the thought, of the thought, of the

       thought of his name:

          His ineffable effable


Deep and inscrutable singular name.

Elliot seems to have truly understood the gravity of naming cats.

By the way, I named her Sarah.