Monday, August 10, 2009

Thank goodness I am not called Sootysnout!

Dear George,
My name is Tilly. A sensible and pleasant name, really, compared with some. But I know a Woodstock, a Camberwell, a Salisbury, a Quinine, a Cadbury, a Didcot, a Treacle, a Splash, a Gene, and even a Jezibel (which sounds rather fun). Why do humans choose these odd names? Admittedly there are lots of nice ordinary names like Sam, Ben, Chloe, Sacha, Daisy and Rosie. But why Didcot, almost the ugliest town in Britain? You might as well call a cat Carterton, undoubtedly the ugliest town in the UK. Just because it was born there? Not a very good reason, I think.
Coat colour seems to bring out naming in humans - Blackie, Sooty, Snowy, Smudge, Dusty, Ginger and so forth. Even the occasional feline, rather than canine, Spot. Perhaps I was lucky not to be called Blacknose or Sootysnout or just Nosey (which I am because I like to keep tabs on my humans). You can't rely on human intelligence, such as it is which is very limited indeed.
Yours, Tilly.

Dear Tilly,
I like my name George. Short so that my dumb human can use it easily. Manly too, which is rather a comfort in view of the snip I had earlier. Brave like my namesake saint who tackled dragons (I'd love to have a crack at a very very small one without fire breathing). We black cats, that are thought lucky in Britain but unlucky in the USA, need all the help we can get from a name. Why are we never called romantic names like Bagheera, like the black panther in Kipling's Mowgli stories, or just Panther, or why not Obama or Cleopatra?
Rescue centres could do so much more in the way of naming us. They often don't even think what a name can do for a cat. Give a cat a bad name and it will never be adapted. I mean "Purring Perly" (for a cat already named Perly) is so much nicer than "Piddles Perly" which I once saw. Other inventive possibilities, without changing the original name just adding to it, are"Playful Perly" or even "Perly the Purring King" or "Perly the Pearly Queen". These might catch the eye and they say something attractive about the cat.
One Rescue centre I know used to have too many black cats, so they photographed one totally black cat which had a good story for the press, named it Max and then as the adoption requests flooded in renamed ALL their black cats Max and homed them that way. Each adopter thought they were getting the original Max. Did that matter? Not at all. Most would be renamed anyway.
The truth is that names for cats show more about humans than about cats. And do we know our names? We do. But we ignore them if they are being used to call us in from the twilight hunting area or used as a rebuke when we have found an open butter dish.
Love George, Would-be Dragon Slayer.
PS. This idea of hunting dragons has sort of stuck in my mind.... small, wriggly and reptilian. Very tempting. Perhaps Oscar Snuggles would email me off the blog to tell me about his lizard techniques for my next blog. Then we could all look out for little dragons.
PPS. Blog a bit early this week as my secretary won't be doing it on Saturday.


  1. I think my name is rather nice, Oscar Snuggles, King of Tidewater. My sister's name was Emmy Sweet Pea. Huh! They had an Oscar and an Emmy. Well! I'm just called Oscar and my sister was Sweet Pea, they never call me by my FULL name. Now the Tidewater part, that's what my humans call their home "Tidewater" because it's a reproduction of a Tidewater Virginia house in the Tidewater area of Virginia, USA.

    They did have several other cats when I was really young, Twinkle Toes (Twinkie for short) because his feet were white and you could see only his feet in the dark. Then there was Boo, because he was afraid of his shadow. Then my Mama's name was Molly Moo Cat because she look just like a cow. She was white with gray spots. Then way before my time there was Buster, but he was called Bubba Cat, and there was Tar Baby, she was solid black, and Minnie Mouse the House Mouse, she rather small and wanted to stay in the house all the time and she was a great mouser and there was Mandy. That's a strange name for a cat. I don't know why they named a cat Mandy! I think I'm very happy with Oscar Snuggle, King of Tidewater, I do love to snuggle.

  2. are adorable!

  3. Oscar Snuggles....I really love your stories :-)

  4. Tilly,
    I like your name! I ended up with "Fluffy" because I wasn't doing much when I was a kitty. I was a ball of fur....sleeping most of the time :-)
    My sister ended up with "Cayenne" because she was playing all the time; she was crazy, running, almost flying through the house, like she was eating "hot peppers".
    Now ....I can be "the plug-in-cat" ... since I want to play all the time! We each have a "secret name" but only our mommy is calling us by it :-)

  5. Tilly this is a great question, I just put it down to apes not being very imaginative. Big brains do not equal intelligence as apes prove daily.

    Oh My COD! A cat called CARTERTON! That would be grounds for calling in the RSPCA! One of my apes grew up near the place and can vouch for its elite ugliness.

    We also say NO to names such as Luton & Loughborough - both hideous places yuk.

    Whicky Wuudler


Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online