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How To Choose The Best Name For Your New Cat

Jan 3, 2018 · ·
  1. Anne
    How to choose the best name for your new cat
    One of the first things you have to do when adopting a new cat is choose a name for your new feline friend. The new name will be with the little furball for many years to come, so it's time to put your thinking cap on and find the best possible name for your cat.

    Why your cat's name matters

    You may be wondering whether a cat can recognize his or her own name. That's actually a good question.

    It's hard to tell for sure what cats make of our speech patterns in general and of their names in particular. Many members of our site report that their cats do in fact recognize their individual names, even in a multi-cat household. They may not run to the owner when called - although some certainly do! - but subtle changes in their posture and focus of attention show that the cat has indeed heard and recognized his or her own name.

    Of course, this does not mean that a cat perceives the name as a part of his or her sense of self-identity. More likely than not, your cat learns to recognize the name as the word you use when you want to draw his or her attention.

    Moreover, your cat has no idea as to what that "name word" means in human language. There is zero risk of Kitty being offended by the meaning of any name you may choose.

    So why does your cat's name matter?

    It matters to you and to the people around you. Your cat's name can be an expression of your imagination and ingenuity as well as of the way you feel about your cat. And don't worry about choosing a funny and even slightly derogatory name. Depending on your own personality and the people around you, it's likely to be taken as what it is - an illustration of your sense of humor.

    What makes a good cat name?

    There are several considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best name for your new cat.
    1. Shorter is often better
      Many owners recommend a shorter name - with only one or two syllables - as it's going to be easier for the cat to recognize.

      A shorter name (or at least a short version of the name) might be a better fit for the cat's name tag or collar. While the important piece of information is always your phone number, many owners like to have the pet's name on the collar or tag. "Whiskerus Maximus" may be a tad too long for that.

    2. Ending the name with the "ee" sound
      A name that ends in an open sound - preferably "ee" - is probably easier for cats to recognize. There's not science to back this up though, but this nugget of folk wisdom is probably the reason for the generic "Kitty" name.
    3. Multi-cat household? Choose a unique sounding name
      If you have more than one cat try to keep things less confusing by choosing names with different sounds. Different sounds would make it easier for each cat to recognize his or her name.

    4. You should feel comfortable about the name
      Choose a name you'll feel comfortable sharing with your friends, co-workers, veterinarian and family members (including your Grandma!)

    5. Names are for the long term
      While you will likely create nicknames for your cat, it's best not to change the actual name down the road. So if you're naming a kitten, keep in mind he or she will grow up to be a larger cat. If you choose the name "Tiny" for your 3-week-old rescued orphan, remember that this baby could end up weighing 10 pounds (or more!). If you'll still be happy with a tongue-in-cheek Tiny, that's just fine!

    What if your cat already has a name?

    Unfortunately, some cats lose a home before they are adopted by another person. With a stray, the previous name may be forever unknown. However, if you adopt a cat from a shelter or from a current home, there may be a name attached to that cat already, a name which you may or may not like. So, is it ok to change that name?

    Judging by discussions held in our cat forums, the cats themselves are perfectly ok with a name change.

    When an adult cat is removed from his/her former home and put in a new setting, they need to adjust to many changes. The fact that their new human uses a different word when seeking their attention is usually not much of an issue. Members who adopted an older feline report that the cat usually picks up the new name within a few weeks.

    If you're keeping in touch with whoever gave you the cat, you may consider asking for their permission or at least letting them know about the change. Not all previous owners will be happy about a name change, but you can try and explain your reasons. After all, as the new owner, you're the one who needs to feel comfortable with your cat's name. TCS members suggest keeping the old name as a middle name as a way to make the previous owner happy. Of course, it all depends on your relationship with that person.

    Where to find inspiration for choosing a cat name

    When naming your cat, pretty much anything goes. Feline names can reflect a cat's appearance or personality or perhaps your own taste in art, literature or even gourmet food. Junk food works too - Donut, KitKat or Oreo! Whatever takes your fancy - and you think you'll enjoy calling your cat down the road - can make a good name.

    Let's take a look at some options suggested by our members. You can check this discussion to see even more suggestions.

    By coat color/pattern

    Many of the classic cat names are descriptive of feline coat patterns. Here are some ideas -
    • Tabby (or Tabitha) for a striped tabby
    • Freckles for a spotted coat pattern
    • Cinnamon for a red or brown cat
    • Mittens or Socks for a tuxedo coat pattern with white paws
    • Patches for a calico patched cat
    • Bianca or Blanche for a white female cat
    • Smudge for a cat with a distinctive patch on its face or body

    After a famous cat (real or fictional)

    Many of our members have cats that were named after famous cats. Some are fictional, while others belonged to famous cat lovers.
    • Sylvester (Looney Toons)
    • Tom (Tom & Jerry cartoons)
    • Garfield
    • Crookshanks (Hermione's cat in Harry Potter)
    • Victoria, Grizabella, Jellylorum and more (from the musical Cats, based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats)
    • Catarina (Edgar Allen Poe's cat)
    • Choupette (Karl Lagerfeld's cat)
    • Delilah (Freddy Mercury's cat)

    Literary names

    Quite a few of our members suggest names that follow a literary streak, whether the name of an author or a fictional literary character. Hemingway, Twain and Dickens were all famous cat lovers whose names would be fitting for a cat. Or just go with your own favorite author!

    Majestic names

    Many cat names celebrate the beauty and elegance of our feline friends. Here are some suggestions.
    • Rani - queen in Hindu
    • Bastet or Bast - the cat-headed Egyptian goddess
    • Tarifa - treasure in Arabic
    • Sundar (or Sundari for a female cat) - beautiful in Hindu
    • Princess

    An International Take

    Why not call a cat: "cat"? And to make it more interesting and exotic, just choose the word cat in a different language. Here are some popular options -
    • Gatito in Spanish
    • Matou in French
    • Neko in Japanese
    • Kedi in Turkish
    • Kissa in Finnish
    • Koshka in Russian

    Names related to your cat's temperament/character

    Choosing a name based on your cat's character could be tricky. After all, you may not know Kitty well enough right after adopting him or her. And with kittens, you can expect major behavior changes within months. Still, the name could stay as a reminder of your precious early days together. Here are some ideas for names based on a cat's characteristic or special trait.
    • Hunter (hey, hunting toys counts too!)
    • Catapult
    • Tigger (for an extra bouncy kitten!)
    • Rascal

    Catified Names

    Why not take a word and play with it to emphasis the feline element? Suggestions include -
    • Kittikins
    • Caspurr
    • Felix
    • Whiskers
    • McClaw

    So, how to choose the best name for your cat?

    Just like parents to a new baby, you could soon find yourself overwhelmed with options! There are web pages out there listing hundreds and even thousands of potential cat names. Not to mention your own ideas and thoughts.

    So what can you do?

    Here's a suggestion - Get feedback from other cat lovers! Tell us about yourself and your kitten or cat in the cat forums and ask members to help you choose the purrfect name for your new feline friend! You can get suggestions or even post a poll with your favorite options!

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  1. Neko-chan's mama
    I named my cat Neko-chan which means girl cat in Japanese
  2. FancyBunny
    is my cats name a good name

    P.S. its name is fancy
    1. tarasgirl06
      Welcome to TCS @FancyBunny ! We'd love to see some pictures of your cat so we can tell you about his or her name.
  3. Naman
    For me to choose the name of my cat was so easy. I just looked at his cute face and he remind me of a person, which name I decided to use. So now my cat is called Mr Paul. And Mr is because he is very pampered cat with a big confidence :-)
      Benjamin Franklin (Benji) purraised this.
  4. caitjade
    I kept the name Cassie that they gave her at the shelter because I liked that name although I should haved named her Meow cause thats all she does
      tarasgirl06 and dustydiamond1 purraised this.
    1. dustydiamond1
      Cassie Meow. Is she just talking to you or is it a 'Hey hoomun fix this problem' meow?
  5. Benjamin Franklin (Benji)
    Benjamin Franklin’s also a pretty funny name, even though I always call him Benji because that sounds just as great. I use his full name almost never but people still love it! Benji suits his crazy and playful nature.
      dustydiamond1 and EthansMom purraised this.
  6. 2MiniPanthers
    My cats are Aurora and Olivia, aka Rory and Livvy. Pretty, dignified names that suit them to a T :)
      dustydiamond1 and EthansMom purraised this.
  7. x0xfrancis
    That is a pretty awesome article.
      dustydiamond1 purraised this.
  8. wawadoll8
    My Ricky boy was Ricky for at least six years of his life and I kept the name b/c I love it and it just suits him :kneading:I love when I call "Ricky" and he turns around all alert and ready to rock n' roll!!
  9. EthansMom
    My cat was already named at the shelter. He was 12 weeks old when I adopted him. I did some research on his name before deciding whether or not to pick a name myself. I loved the meaning of his name so I decided to keep it. When I took him back to the shelter for his wellness exam and rabies shot the vet tech was surprised and happy that I chose to keep the original name that I adopted him with. I did add a middle name tho. So its now Ethan Allen. The Name definitely needs to fit because we say it a gazillion times lol
      dustydiamond1, gitabooks and Brian007 purraised this.
  10. Max's Human
    When I saw Max or as I call him fully Maximilian the minute I saw him I knew that was his name I've never had a pet before that I named the moment I saw them so to me he was the perfect Max and he does answer when I call him I'll tell him time to go to bed in the bedroom so but I think it's a perfect name for him and I love him so dearly
  11. tarasgirl06
    Thank you for another helpful and wonderful article! Not to put too fine a point on it, but in referring to a main language of south Asia, it is Hindi, not Hindu ;) *And thank you for mentioning Rani and Tarifa! There was also a Sundari in our furmily.* It's so important to choose a name that is positive in connotations -- negative names do not belong on cats!
    When Elvis joined our family, his dad asked if I was planning on changing his name. My response? "His name is Elvis!" because, of course, after 9 years of being Elvis, who else could he be? ;)
  12. jinxybean
    Jinxy Bean, my avatar kitty, got her name from a combination of a prior cat and her sad luck. Many years ago I had a calico named Bean, after the side dish called Calico Bean Salad. (Really, that name was as inspired as a blank post-it note slapped to her side but she didn't mind.)

    My current girl came to me as an underweight, down-on-her-luck cat, being blind in one eye and partially-blind in the other, with digestive problems that kept her in a cycle of rejection and returns to the shelter with prior owners. I thought she deserved a 2nd (or 5th) chance at happiness so she came home with me. The little bundle was curled up on my lap in a tight ball of contentment when her name popped into my head, as I softly told her how I wanted to break her jinx. So, honoring my old Bean and saving a Jinx'd cat came Jinxy Bean! She's been with me now for over 4 years and a very happy and healthy girl.
      tarasgirl06, Brian007 and dustydiamond1 purraised this.
    1. dustydiamond1
      OH what a wonderful person you are.
      tarasgirl06 purraised this.
    2. Brian007
      That's a great naming tale! And for her 2nd life she deserves two names. Lucky Jinxy Bean, I'd say.
  13. snowpawprint
    My cats official name(my avatar) is 'Blossom' but I also call her 'kitty' or 'kiki'- she doesn't respond to any...:tabbycat:
      dustydiamond1, jinxybean and gitabooks purraised this.
    1. dustydiamond1
      Yep, just like a cat.
  14. Molly.A
    I think Augustus is pretty original, I found his as a stray a few months ago and he’s really thriving now. Due to the fact that he was a 2 month old kitten he never had another name so he’s adjusted pretty well. To be honest he’d probably recognise Gussy, Handsome or Gus more than Augustus as it’s more of a fancy name for when he’s an old man. From his name as well you’d never guess what he looked like which is pretty cool, he’s a little tuxedo which a white slash on his left side by the way [​IMG]
      tarasgirl06, jinxybean and dustydiamond1 purraised this.
  15. Brian007
    Brian was called "Clay" for the 1st 3 & 1/2 years of his life until I rescued him. Clay did not suit him and I knew it had to go. The name "Brian" seemed to choose itself, or Brian chose it and planted subliminal messages. It was the most fitting name for the most Brian of cats.
  16. gitabooks
    When we were younger we had cats like Scardy-Cat, Tiger-tail, Tabby, Pygmy, Sherbert, Chester, Milly, and Black Cat. However, as time progressed (and after seeing all the common names at the shelter where I volunteered) I started having to think up of more unique names. We have also has a Barely (we didn't name him, but I liked the name), Genevieve (she also came with the name. She goes by Genny), Nocturne, Nym, Lyla, Oziana, Twilight, and Bellatrix (some of these were foster kitties that have been adopted into new homes). : )
      tarasgirl06, jinxybean and dustydiamond1 purraised this.
  17. Katie M
    I named Charlie after Charlie Chaplin, my favorite actor. He's "dressed" all in black, is rather eccentric for a cat, and was first found roaming outside alone.

    Selene is named after the ancient Greek personification of the moon. She has various shades of grey in her fur, as well as some white. You can't get more moonlike than that!
  18. happilyretired
    My girl is a rescue who was called "Nellie" at the shelter. She was thrown from a car when she was about 3 and had been with the rescue group (boarded at my vet) for a year because she was so fearful that she was unadoptable. People usually like a cat who will interact with them. She also didn't like other cats, and since I prefer 'only children,' my vet urged me to take her.

    Usually, I go with whatever name is being used, but I didn't like "Nellie," and since she is polydactyl (Hemingway cat), I thought she should have a literary name. I wanted her to be "Molly Bloom" (from Joyce's Ulysses), and since Nellie and Molly have similar sounds, I thought she would not be confused by the change.

    When I brought her home, she hid for more than 2 weeks, something I'd never experienced with my other shelter cats--all of whom made themselves 'at home' within 15 seconds!

    While she hid, I talked to her a lot, but neither Nellie nor Molly was working well. Soon she emerged and became a combination of 'love bug' and 'diva.' A friend [who had never seen her] mentioned to me that if I wanted to call her Molly, perhaps her name should be Molly Brown [as in The Unsinkable] because of all she's been through. I was immediately taken with this because she is a classic brown mackerel tabby--instantly, that name 'fit.' She's been Molly Brown ever since--and responded to it immediately.
  19. dustydiamond1
    Our Girl was a neighborhood stray who after throughly testing us finally allowed us to let her take over our hearts and our home.We worked on discovering her name for months, nothing seemed to click. She is very graceful- tried Grace or Gracie, nope. White feet-tried Socks or Bootsie, nope. Rascal, Darla, many, many different names tried, nothing felt right. Now mind you these were only for us two legged, she came (only when she wanted to of course) if we made kissy noises, hand claps or, if she hadn't come running when she heard the car pull up, a loud whistle or a resounding HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY echoing down the alleys would have her come hightailing to us. Finally, partly because she had roamed far and wide and partly because Scotts family once had a dog and when I was a kid we had a horse with the name, we decided on Gypsy. She doesn't seem impressed but we are happy.
      tarasgirl06, jinxybean, abyeb and 1 other person purraised this.
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