“The Naming of Cats is a Difficult Matter…
…It isn’t just one of your holiday games.”
Well, actually, in our case, it was simple enough. Our cats had been named by their shelters and we allowed them to keep their names. I spell-checked Shadow’s name, but left it intact as it suited her (and she is a little shadow to us quite often, following us about), and Phoenix kept his name because, well, quite frankly, we couldn’t come up with a better one. It doesn’t quite suit his personality but it isn’t wrong either. Phoenix has a Jellicle name he isn’t sharing.
They have both acquired secondary names.
Phoenix is also known as either The Grey-beast, or Phoenix Greybeast, or even just Beast, depending on what exactly he is doing in the moment. Shadow has acquired Marie as a definite middle name, used when she is in trouble. It just rolled off my tongue one day and fit painfully well. Shadow Marie is what she is when she’s being a prima donna, a snot, and a general bully to her brother (by another mother and shelter) who is both younger and larger in frame (but lighter in weight) than she is. Those that remember the Disney film The Aristocats might have a nice chuckle over the personality that is indeed intact, even if her coloring and coat-length are completely opposite.
And of course, from a more familial point of view, they are The Boy, The Girl, your daughter, your son, and in general our fur-babies. I’ve always rather loved having fur-babies, and of course Terry has human children (who are now quite grown), but they do get spoiled and disciplined and in general spoken to as if they are kids.
Which got me to thinking: why as a society do we not add names as personalities develop and call for them? Aside from nicknames (which are “unofficial”) and religious names (Baptismal, Confirmational, et cetera, which are again, “unofficial”), I can’t think of a time when a personal name is given. On the internet, we often name ourselves. Sometimes, those become our real names.
I should look and see if there are cultures where this is a more common occurrence. It makes such good sense to me.
*The title and first line are from T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Naming of Cats” which is from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collected book of poetry, which was in turn adapted into (used as a basis for) the popular Broadway musical Cats.