Back in the day, naming a cat was a fairly quick, straightforward affair.
“Historically, cat names were simple and based on appearance—Snowball for a white cat, Patches for a Calico,” says Laura Wattenberg, a naming trend researcher and founder of BabyNameWizard.com. “Generic names like Fluffy and Kitty used to be popular.”
Now however, we tend to think of our pets as more human-like—and in turn, more pets have human names, Wattenberg says. Where Midnight may have been fine for the mouser who lived in the barn, the cultured kitty sharing your bed and drinking your filtered water demands a more dignified moniker.
Where better to find a distinguished, cat-worthy name than literature? These iconic characters have names fit for the finest of felines:
Unlike a human child, your cat will never have to repeatedly explain her name.
“Children shouldn’t have to grow up with a name that is constantly mispronounced or misspelled,” says Kara Cavazos, a professional naming consultant and blogger. “However, with cats, there’s more freedom to have some fun with names that you can’t quite get away with for a child.”
With this in mind, considerDaenerys Targaryen of “Game of Thrones” fame. Although known as the “mother of dragons,” she has some distinctly cat-like tendencies—namely, destroying those who refuse to bow before her—and a trademark blonde mane that lends itself nicely to a white cat.
Charming and elusive with a taste for the finer things in life, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic Jay Gatsby may very well have been a cat. And come on—The Great Catsby? You’re welcome.
Since Benedict Cumberbatch revived the role of Mr. Holmes in the popular BBC crime series, the UK has seen an increase in the number of pets named Sherlock. Although perfectly fine for a dog, we’d argue that such a stealthy, cunning name is more befitting of a feline. The best part? If you add another cat to your family, you already have the perfect name: Watson.
Should your sleuth-like cat be female, look no further than Agatha Christie’s beloved character. Whip-smart with a loner streak, Miss Marple can’t keep her paws to herself, making her the perfect amateur detective and kitty namesake.
One of the first rules of cat-naming? Have fun.
“Naming pets is great, because you never have to worry about the cat running for office or applying to graduate school—it takes the pressure off,” saysAbby Sandel, a baby name consultant and senior editor at Nameberry.
Sandel went with Mercutio when naming her first cat. Fellow Shakespeare enthusiasts might consider Tybalt, another “Romeo and Juliet” character, who is known as the “prince of cats” (a nickname alluding to his sneaky side).
You wouldn’t be the first to name your little one after the “Hunger Games” heroine. In 2015, Katniss first appeared on the baby-name radar with 29 names recorded—up from zero prior to the film’s 2012 release. For a feline twist, of course, you can change the spelling to Catniss.
From Albus Dumbledore to Severus Snape, the “Harry Potter” universe is brimming with memorable names. However, think more Gryffindor, less Slytherin when selecting yours—a cat named after Lord Voldemort may be perceived as inherently naughty.
“We tend to attach an expectation to names,” says Wattenberg. “We wouldn’t fret about what to name our babies if a name was only a word and didn’t matter in some larger sense.”
Our Potter pick? Professor Minerva McGonagall. A card-carrying member of the Order of the Phoenix, this good witch is also an Animagus—which means she shape shifts into a cat when she wants to slink through the grounds of Hogwarts unnoticed.
Gandalf the Grey (or White)
Middle-earth has plenty of names for the Tolkienist cat lover. While Gollum and Smeagol have proven to be popular among hairless cats, consider the more noble Gandalf. Take your pick from two variations depending on the color of your kitty: Gandalf the Grey, as the wise wizard is originally known; or Gandalf the White, his name after returning from the dead.
There’s more to Mr. Darcy than meets the eye, making Jane Austen’s man of mystery a fitting cat namesake. The “Pride and Prejudice” love interest also has a short and snappy name, which is ideal for kitty communication.
“A good cat name is shorter, and has happy, non-harsh sounding tones,” says Billie Reynolds,a cat trainer and member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
If you do choose a more complicated name, Reynolds suggests designating a nickname for everyday use. Lady Catherine de Bourgh (also of “Pride and Prejudice”), for example, could be shortened to Cathy, although we’re sure she wouldn’t approve of it.
Although there’s certainly something fun about referring to your goofy kitten as Mr. Darcy, literature has plenty of famous cats to choose from, as well.
“Perhaps a black cat could be called Bagheera after the panther from ‘The Jungle Book,’ or an orange tabby could be known as Simba,” Cavazos says. “There are so many options out there, don’t be afraid to have fun with it.”
Other notable kitties include Cheshire, the mischievous ginger cat in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Mrs. Norris, Harry Potter’s yellow-eyed feline nemesis and Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger in “Life of Pi.”