Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What's in a Name?

First, let me say that I didn't name my foster cat "SpongeBob". I've tried and tried to come up with another name that fits this dapper black cat, but I keep coming back to the name SpongeBob. I've tried calling out to him, "Here Ralph!" or "Here Denzel!" No. I think his name really is SpongeBob. I may have created an all new name low despite my best efforts.

The first time I experienced a problem with naming a cat was 4 years ago. We had a darling little senior cat in our program that we named "Gypsy". It fit her! Then I got an e-mail from one of our sweet foster Dads who is from Romania. He was angry: "Beth. Did you know that the word "Gypsy" in Romania is like the "N" word here?" Good Gravey Moses! I did NOT! I'm just a little Southern California girl. I've never even met anyone from Romania much less a gypsy!! I changed her name right away. Last thing anyone can call me is "not politically correct." *shiver*

We have another amazing foster Mom that always comes up with really bizarre (albeit VERY amusing) names for her foster cats. They're always a perfect fit for her cats. It's always exciting to see what names she'll come up with next.

At the shelter right now are 4 cats that came from a Chinese home. They each have two-letter names: Er, Wi, Eu,...or something like that. The poor things look scared to death - they are obviously not cats that speak English. (Didn't think of that, did ya?) I mean - those ARE their names! So if I rescue these cats, I can't change their names. That's the only thing they have left in their lives - their names! I just have to find somebody that speaks Chinese to tell me how to pronounce the damn names.

Not too long ago we had an adorable young cat named "Turkey". I was speechless. Who would adopt a cat named "Turkey"? I even offended the foster Mom by saying something in Turkey's bio like, "This is the worst name in history for the world's cutest cat." (I think I was trying to make excuses. ) Boy...was I *WRONG* about that name. Not only was Turkey adopted quickly, but we had multiple people wanting him! In fact, I think the adopters kept the name Turkey! (yes, I apologized to the foster Mom!)

What is it about naming cats that becomes so personal for us? Our rescue has seen over 2000 cats come through our doors, and each one needs an identity. I haven't reached the point where I can just pull a name out of my hat. It has to be individual and personal for the personality of the cat. Sometimes I can't name a cat a certain name because it reminds me of a cat that died and it still hurts. It's like in sports when they retire an athletes number.

Yes, names are important. But not for the reasons I used to think. The name has nothing to do with the adoptability of the cat. It's what makes them *ours*. If cats like "MiniToes", "Conky", "Blackberry" and "Brad Pitt" can get adopted....well... SpongeBob, your luck might be changing.
UPDATE: SpongeBob was adopted on April 5th to a lovely lady who is going to keep his name! Go figure! Have a wonderful life, Spongy!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning the Turkey story...I think it's great that they kept his name.

Social Mange said...

Actually, the cats' names look more Vietnamese than Chinese...


They're probably pronounced as they look...New, Thoo, Woo, Ur.