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‘The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;’
Mr. Eliot had it right, in his poem, The Naming of Cats. Finding just the right name for your fur baby is no easy matter. Cat names need to take into account your pet’s personality, be something that you don’t mind saying (or calling out in public if you have an outdoor cat), and be mindful of the extreme dignity that cats demand. We’ve all had ‘the look’ when we get things wrong.
In this article, we’ll be running through some of our favorite cat names. Some quirky, some traditional, and some taken from famous sources including T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. If you’re looking for inspiration for naming a kitten or renaming a cat you’ve adopted, then read on!
The Science of Cat Names
You might think that a name is a name, but it seems that cats respond differently to certain sounds. They seem to like high pitched noises and will be more likely to react to a female voice than a male one. Bearing in mind that their most frequent comment to us is, ‘Mee-ow’ it’s worth keeping your name to two syllables and to include a long ee sound. Names like Tilly, Lilly, Kitty, Sophie, and Felix are examples that meet these criteria.
If those sorts of names don’t really fit the bill then you can, of course, choose a longer or different name for your cat. You just might find that they ignore you unless you come up with an ee sound nickname!
You might consider this a list to avoid, or a list of inspiration depending on your perspective, but these are the timeless names that cats have been called for decades, if not longer. You’ll see some familiar favorites popping up in other categories, too.
Felix – Any time I hear a cat being called Felix, I’m transported back to the cartoon and hear the theme tune playing in my head.
Kitty – This is a cute cat name, even if you are just basically calling your cat, well, cat. It makes me think of Big Bang Theory and Penny singing Sheldon to sleep.
Mittens – You naughty kittens, you’ve lost your mittens then you shall have no pie. This is the perfect name for a cat with paws that don’t match the rest of their coat.
Poppy – Flower names are lovely for pets, and include Lily, Rosie, Daisy, and others.
Whiskers – Some cats have prominent features that can inspire their names, and this is a good example. Or use the more formal, ‘Mr. Whiskers’.
There have been plenty of cats who have played major parts in books, TV or movies. Here are some of our favorites:
Azrael – In my opinion, Azrael was the best thing about the Smurfs. Whether it was the cartoon or the live action films – and that’s saying something in a cast that included Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris!
Boots – Do you have a cat whose paws are a different color than its coat? Or one that does adorable cute faces that can’t be resisted? Then you could do worse than naming them after fairy-tale favorite, Puss in Boots.
Cat – Breakfast at Tiffany’s has become an iconic movie, thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s performance as Holly Golightly. She didn’t have that much imagination when she named her pet, though.
Crookshanks – If you’re looking for a familiar rather than a cat, then taking inspiration from “the brightest witch of her age,” Hermione Granger is probably a good place to start.
Dinah – Before Alice went to Wonderland, she had a kitten known as Dinah. In Through the Looking Glass, Dinah is all grown up and has kittens of her own.
Garfield – It pretty much has to be a ginger tom to carry off this name. If you catch your cat licking your lasagna this is a possibility.
Gizmo – OK, so technically speaking Gizmo was a Mogwai, not a cat. However, it does make a really cute cat name and can be shortened.
Greebo – The cat with attitude who belonged to Nanny Ogg in Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Discworld series.
Hello Kitty – Perhaps the most famous cat in the world, the real Hello Kitty is supposedly a sophisticated girl from London! If you would get a kick out of greeting your cat with, ‘Hello, Hello Kitty’ this name could work for you.
Macavity – The mystery cat from Eliot’s poem, made famous by the musical, Cats. ‘He’s a fiend in feline shape, a master of depravity!’
Mr. Bigglesworth – Who names their cat something like this? Well, Dr. Evil, of course!
Mrs. Norris – Who can forget the watchful Mrs. Norris, who roamed the corridors of Hogwarts?
Rhubarb – Not only was Rhubarb the title character in a 1950 film, he was also the adversary of dog, Custard, in a cartoon that amused schoolchildren in 1970’s England.
Salem – Who can forget the wise-cracking black cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch?
Scarface Claw – A recurring character in Lynley Dodd’s ‘Hairy McLary’ series, Scarface Claw is the roughest and toughest of cats (but he’s scared of his own reflection!)
Sir Meows-a-Lot – If you have kids who watch YouTube, or you watch it yourself, then you might have come across, ‘The Pals’ and Denis Daily. Denis’ companion is Sir Meows-a-Lot, who frequently appears in his videos.
Sylvester – Black cat with white cheeks? Does it like hunting birdies? I ‘tawt I taw a puddy cat.
Tigger – The wonderful thing about tiggers, is tiggers are wonderful things.
Tom – If you have a grey tomcat, then…well, there’s Tom. Bonus points if you also have a mouse called Jerry.
This book is a treasure trove of cat names, from the mischievous Macavity to Old Deuteronomy via Rum Tum Tigger. A must-read for cat fans.
Sometimes the simplest way to name a cat is to use their physical appearance for inspiration. You’ll find some of these in the other lists too!
Lynx – If you have a mackerel or spotted tabby and you want to make them feel fierce, this is the name for you. It also works well for Bengal and Mau breeds.
Midnight – The inspiration for this one is obvious!
Panther – Another good choice for an all-black cat.
Patches – This one is great for a Calico or a black and white cat that has patches.
Smudge – A grey cat can carry this name, but also one with a mixed color coat that looks like it’s been smudged together.
Smoky – A lovely name for a grey or blue coated cat, especially if they’re fluffy.
Snowball – A great name for a pure white cat, and another one that suits a fluffball. This name also works well for black cats if you appreciate the irony – and it worked for The Simpsons!
Socks – In a similar vein to Mittens and Boots, this one is a good choice for a cat with a distinct color change at the paws.
Sooty – It doesn’t need to be an all back cat to carry this one off, mostly black with some hints of white works too.
Tiger/Tigger – Ginger cats are the obvious candidates for these names, but they work well for tabby cats, too. It’s the stripes.
Paired Cat Names
If you’re getting not just one but two bundles of fluff, here are some great names that work well together.
Anthony & Cleopatra – The might of Rome meets the beauty of Ancient Egypt! A love story for the ages.
Bonnie & Clyde – The ultimate partners in crime.
Cheech & Chong – Bonus points if you name your cats after this fun-loving duo.
Fred & Ginger – If you have a tuxedo and a ginger cat, this is the perfect choice.
Loki & Thor – Fans of the Marvel universe will know why these two are a great pairing, if you haven’t seen the films then Norse legend might be helpful instead!
Mork & Mindy – There is no better way to pay homage to the late, great, Robin Williams.
Mulder & Scully – With names like these, you’ll always be wondering what you cats are going to bring home.
Salt & Pepper – Nothing adds spice to your life like these two!
Tom & Jerry – So in the cartoons, one of these may be a mouse, but it’s still a fun duo name for cats.
Gollum & Frodo – One cat to rule them all…
Once you’ve named your cat, it’s time to show the world what you’ve chosen. Whether it’s something traditional or a totally off the wall choice (a friend once named their cat Egg) you can have it displayed on these items.
Let little Mittens curl up on a warm and fluffy blanket with their name on it.
Keep track of who you’ve fed with these personalized cat bowls.
If your cat likes to wander then this collar won’t just let people know who they are, it will also give them your phone number.
Making a choice
As you can see, there are a number of really great cat names that you can choose for your fur babies. Don’t rush into a choice– it’s fine to call them ‘kitty’ until you know them well enough to choose a name that you (and they) can live with for the rest of their lives.
Sarah Dixon is a freelance writer specializing in pet care and recruitment, and the author of the Alfie Slider series of children’s Sci-Fi novels. She lives in York, UK with her two children and her fur babies Tilly (Calico) and Casper (DSH).