The Naming of Names

This is going to be a long post and it’s only tangentially literary. We’re going to get a kitten! Blame Suw, the woman who is in feline servitude to Grabbity and Sir Isaac Mewton and who’s been twittering about them both.

So, kitten. Our last cat died around January: she was sixteen and walked away to die alone, as cats often do, so that her actual departure date is unknown. She was also stroppy, small, unstrokable and from Essex – her name was Fera (as in Fera(l)) obviously.

The dogs are called Rebus and Falco. If we get another dog it will be called Resnick, then we’ll be joined by Zen (Aurelio) and then, if we live that long, Dalziell. You can see the progression, I trust. If not, what are you doing reading this blog?

And so we might get a male cat or a female one, and I have to be ready with names. I started with females and was immediately keen on action heroines: Ripley, Croft and Starling. And immediately saw the problem: Ellen Ripley of Alien fame, or Tom Ripley? Lara Croft or Croft Original Sherry? And Starling, while not attributed to any other significant figure, is just a damn peculiar name to give a cat, innit?

So, science fiction instead. That’s very good on the bloke side: Heinlein, Varley, Niven (could be confused with David, but that wouldn’t be too bad actually) and Pournelle. But on the distaff … well, le Guin, (excellent name for a cat), Butler (Octavia, but who’s going to get that?) and Griffith (Nicola - possibly even more obscure). Urgh.

My fear now is that naming animals in a sequence like this is unutterably elitist and upper class but that worrying about it is unutterably neurotic and middle class. Because this is how one names animals. Isn’t it?

And so, with that thought, my problems ended. T H White has done it for me: regardless of sex, future cats will be Clumsy, Trowneer, Phoebe, Colle, Gerland, Talbot, Luath, Luffra, Apollon, Orthros, Bran, Gelert, Boy, Lion, Bungery, Toby, Cavall and Diamond – although I reserve the right to pick the most appropriate name from the list when the feline arrives. Can’t think of a better way to name cats than after dogs!

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