I have been asked how I came up with my cats’ names. The quick answer is, I didn’t. Well, not for the adults, anyway. I assumed that the adult cats already had names. The trick was convincing them to let me know what their names were, and then being able to recognize the answers they gave me.
This was an easy matter with Weasel. When I sat in a room with him and asked his name, he screamed the word, “WEASEL” at me. Mind you, he didn’t physically make a sound, but he did manage to blow “WEASEL” into my brain at high volume and with undeniable clarity. I knew it came from him, because the word, “weasel” hadn’t been utilized in my vocabulary or thought processes in retrievable memory. Weasel was quite satisfied with my recognition of his name (as if I had a choice), which turned out to suit him all too well.
Mew was much more difficult to identify. He was very feral when he arrived and wanted nothing to do with me for months. He certainly had no interest in disclosing his name to me. When he finally decided to let me into his inner circle, his voice was still muted. After months of my asking, he quietly placed the name, Bartholomew, in my mind, though clearly preferring to be called Mew.
Feather was similarly slow and soft-spoken in sharing his name with me, though his reluctance was borne of emotional instability rather than anger, as in Mew’s case.
Annabelle told me that her name was Annie. When Joe expressed dislike of the name, I asked her if she would mind being called Annabelle, instead. She had no objection, especially since Annabelle was a more regal-sounding name for a most beautiful queen of a cat.
Some of the cats showed me their names, rather than speaking them into my brain. Footsie was one of these “action speaks louder than mental telepathy” types. I asked his name for weeks with no obvious reply. Well, no obvious reply that I was smart enough to acknowledge. After about the hundredth time of him painfully attacking my feet, I finally got the message. “OK, I get it. Your name is Footsie!”
Siliman (Silly Man) was a no-brainer. ‘Nuf said.
My girl, Somer (RIP) still leaves me scratching my head and smiling when I think back to how she got her name across to me. As with some of the others, I had been asking her name for many weeks. And, as with some of the others, she had offered no reply. I’d become quite frustrated and wondered if a name would ever be forthcoming. Then one day I was on the floor with her, trying again to convince her to please, please tell me who she was, while I scratched her absent-mindedly between her shoulder blades. She dropped her head in response to my scratching. I continued, and she dropped her head lower. More scratching lowered her head all the way between her knees, causing her to roll forward in a perfect somersault. Having never seen a cat do a perfect forward somersault before, I, of course, was delighted and had to see if she’d do it again. More scratching, more head lowering, and yes, another perfect somersault. I stared at the amazing little acrobat before me, when suddenly I realized that she was showing me her name. “Is your name Somer?” I asked. She looked up at me. I tried for a third somersault, but she would not oblige. No need. The first two had accomplished her goal. She never somersaulted again.
Sweet Sweet and Phantom were different. They either never had names before they arrived here, or they didn’t, for whatever reasons, want me to know or use them. They were happy with the “placeholder” names I gave them and adopted those names as their own.
The kittens presented a different kind of naming challenge. I assumed that any kitten who showed up here was never cared for enough to be given a name, so coming up with a suitably appropriate moniker was up to me. This, I’m afraid, is where my lack of imagination will become sadly evident, particularly where The Babies were concerned. Noddy was an especially acrobatic kitten, who we named Nadia, believing him to be female. When those telltale “boy parts” popped out several months later, Nadia’s name was adjusted to Noddy. Noddy’s brother, Capri, was named after one of Joe’s family cats, Capriccio, who he closely resembled. Lamie acquired her name as the result of the lameness (thankfully temporary) inflicted upon her by a violent assault by her first owner. Pretty was, well, pretty. I gratefully haven’t the slightest memory of why I named BooBoo, BooBoo.
With her smooshy flat face and jutty-outy chin, Roxie looked like a gangster – a rather remarkable likeness to Edward G. Robinson, to my eye. But being female, I chose an appropriately gun moll-ish name for her. It fits.
The GoBoys got their names because when I found them, one of them had an eye that was so goobery that it was sealed shut. I started calling him Goober, which, of course, left no reasonable option for his brother but Gomer (if you aren’t familiar with the classic Andy Griffith Show, this won’t make any sense to you).
And finally, Bobble. When this little boy showed up in my barn in late November, he was so emaciated and frozen that he could barely walk. Every time he looked up at me, his little head would bob like a bobblehead toy. The bobbing stopped as he recovered his strength and health, but the name stuck.
There you have it – the origins of the names of the Pride of Shadowood. Just don’t ask me what I actually call them around the house. I don’t think there’s an animal in this house with less than a half dozen nicknames that are both commonly used and frequently interchanged. I can barely keep up with them all even WITH a score card!