How to Choose a Name for Your Cat

Three Parts:Getting to Know Your CatNarrowing Down NamesSealing the Deal

When you bring a cat home, you’re adding a member to your family. After deciding to get a cat, naming your new fur baby is the second biggest decision you’ll have to make. Your cat’s moniker will become a part of its identity, so take as much time as you need to pick the perfect one.

Part 1
Getting to Know Your Cat

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    Learn your cat’s personality. The general characteristics of cats vary from breed to breed, and even within breeds, cats vary from one another just like humans do. Don’t choose a name before you get your cat, because it certainly is not a “one name fits all” situation. Some cats are very vocal and active, while others are quiet and lazy. Some want to be in your lap all day, while others may prefer its own space.[1] Consider these traits while you are considering names.
    • The name Lord Paddington IV is an excellent name, but it may work best for a calm, reserved cat. The name Spazzy would be great for a hyperactive, silly cat.
    • Give your cat some time to acclimate to your home. It may seem timid and quiet at first, but really just be going through a period of adjustment.
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    Choose a name based on your cat’s appearance. While of course there is more to your precious cat than its physical appearance, it’s a great way to generate some unique potential names. If you can find one that describes its appearance while also fitting its personality, you’ve struck gold!
    • You may want to go with a dark, mysterious name like Midnight, Raven, or Shadow for a black cat, while an orange cat might make a perfect Ginger or Pumpkin. Longer haired, fluffy cats might make a great Fuzz or Puff.
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    Draw inspiration from your cat's breed. Learn a little bit about the history of its breed to come up with a unique (and informed!) name. For example, you could give your Persian cat a beautiful Persian name like Ali or Zahra.[2] Because legend states that Birman cats are the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” you could brainstorm heavenly names like Goddess or Angel.[3]
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    Establish mutual respect. A name that's cute or makes you laugh isn’t necessarily right for the creature you’ve just brought home. For example, a regal Siamese cat will not feel respected if you name them Poopsie, and in turn it will lose respect for you. A hairless cat will likely feel self-conscious and disrespected if you name it Fluffy. Consider your feline’s dignity when choosing its lifelong label.
    • Depression can occur in cats just as it does in humans. A depressed cat lose its appetite, avoids its owners, and becomes more sedentary. Don’t make your cat sad.[4]

Part 2
Narrowing Down Names

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    Create a list of every name you like. Read it out loud. Which names flow off the tongue? Some names may seem more appealing on paper.[5] Look at your cat while you read the potential names. Does your cat just look like one of the names? Get the opinions of family and friends. Sometimes you hear the ideal name and it just clicks. Other times, you will need to slowly eliminate your options one by one.
    • Remember, you’ll be saying this name a lot. Pick a name that you enjoy saying.
    • Contemplate the possible nicknames. You may love the name Benedict, but you'll likely start calling your kitty Ben or Benny for convenience. If you choose a long name for your cat, it helps when it’s easily shortened to a nickname.
    • On that note, keep in mind that cats do respond best to short names.[6] Penelope is great, but Penny might be even better.
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    Think about the names of your favorite fictional characters. This is a great way to find a name for your new cat. Think about your favorite movies, television shows, and books. Is there a superhero you've always idolized or a powerful heroine that you admire? What about that underrated minor character in your favorite novel? There is a wealth of special, meaningful names at your fingertips.
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    Consider names drawn from special places and memories. For example, if you're getting a cat with your significant other think about where you had your first date, where you were married, or any other special memories you've made. If you honeymooned in Maui, why not name your cat Maui? If you're a flower lover, think about names like Daisy or Rose. You can honor your beloved mother by naming your cat after her birth month. Is your favorite song "Sweet Caroline"? Perfect, that's a great name! Truly, your options are endless. Start brainstorming the things that are special to you, and run with it.[7]
    • Not only will you give your cat a name with love and originality, but you'll also have an interesting story to tell your guests when they ask you your cats name!
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    Look at baby name books for ideas. Skim through the pages, read the meanings of names, and highlight the names that stick out to you. Once you've read through the book and highlighted your favorite names, put it away for awhile. Come back to it later with fresh eyes, and put a star next to your favorite highlighted names. These are the best of the best! Keep narrowing your list until you've only got two or three left. Give yourself some time to think about your top options, and whichever one you can't get out of your mind is the one you should choose.
    • Be original. When you’ve generated some options, think about how many people or animals you know with those names. Your cat’s name certainly doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but don’t you want to give it a name that’s as special as it is?
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    Discuss options with your cat. It won’t give you an answer in English, but it might voice its approval through a purr, some body language, or through its sweet, feline eyes. Call to it in different names and see if any get a reaction. Cats are clever and strong-willed, and it should have some say in this important decision.[8]

Part 3
Sealing the Deal

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    Say its chosen name excessively. Use it when you feed, pet, cuddle, and praise your cat. Help it learn its name by using it more than feels natural. Cats are very reward-motivated, so say its name while you give it treats.[9]
    • Cats are often very independent, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn't always come when you call. It may just be playing hard-to-get.
    • Try to make sure that your cat has only positive associations with its name. Don’t yell its name when it's done something wrong, but sweetly say its name when it's done something right.
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    Stick to one name. If you have decided that its full name must be Sir William Fluffy-Butt but you know that you will often call it Willy, get it used to hearing Willy. If you alternate names every time you call it, it’ll likely be confused. If it's confused, it will probably start ignoring you all together. It’s not at all uncommon for a cat to give its human caretakers the cold shoulder, so help your odds by making sure it knows its name.[10]
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    Purchase an engraved collar with its new name. This is the final, and most official, step in the naming process. It can wear its new jewelry with pride, and it is your cats official introduction to the world. Even better, this new identification can be used if your sweet feline family member gets lost. Its collar can help to bring it safely back home.[11]


  • If you’ve adopted a cat, it may already have a name. If you’re insistent on changing it, it’s helpful to change it to something very similar. If its name is Duke, choose a new name with a similar "u" sound like Bruce or Luke to make it easy on the cat.
  • If you have several pets, try to make all of their names different enough that they can distinguish them. If you have a dog named Kaley and a cat named Kasey, you may have some confused animals on your hands.

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Categories: Getting a Cat