Naming my Cat - 30 Apr 2004

Last Saturday, I went and did it. I got me a kitten. Didn’t have a plan to landscape my backyard or finish the trim in my living room or fiddle with my motorcycle, and was wandering around a South Dallas (what others like to call North “Austin”) Barnes and Noble with Jean Wang, and she informed me that she knew someone in Pflugerville who wanted to unload some kittens. It sounded good to me – I had idly thought of getting a cat since I moved into my house last September. Now idly dissipating my Saturday, it seems as good a time as any to take the plunge and get one. Two hours later, I drove away with a spirited grey male tabby with a white belly that the family called “Killer.” He jumped out of his bag on the drive to drop off Jean, and tried to run around the car, worrying poor Jean in the process. We managed to confine him to the passenger side of the car until I dropped Jean off. He continued bellowing and scrambling around the car until I finally confined him on my lap, at which time he closed his eyes and napped all the way to my home in South Austin, even purring a little bit (Cats are smart – they know how to do the little things to win you over, even at 6 weeks.).

After I got the tiny kitten settled into my home and my parents came over and gushed over another cat in the family (they need a grandbaby real bad…), I devoted some thought to what I would name this cat (“Killer” was OK, but trivial perfectionist that I am, I couldn’t settle for it.). To name a cat right, one cannot assign the name arbitrarily – the cat’s behavior, personality, appearance, and inevitably cute tricks play a part. Otherwise, you end up saying something stupid every time you see the cat during the next decade or so, like my sister’s surly cat She-ra. She-ra had a foul temper, and I would blame this entirely on her awful name, an instantly dated reference to a bad, mid-1980’s spinoff of the “Masters of the Universe” cartoon. My family’s next cat, a delightful black cat named Eclipse, was taken into a shelter around a lunar eclipse in late 1996. The name stuck (and rightfully so), and Eclipse is a dynamo of a feline – kills scores of mice and other animals (including a family of baby rabbits one time), eats them whole, then jumps into your lap to snuggle. Good name, great cat.

Back to my little grey tabby – here are a few names I considered…

Jules – Allusion to Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Pulp Fiction. Love the name, but my kitten’s frenetic behavior, reminiscent of a hummingbird in a field of wildflowers, did not fit the cool, commanding affect of Jackson’s memorable Jules. Next…

Blanket – The kitten was playing with a towel hanging off of the balcony of my loft Monday night. Through a series of reckless kitten acrobatics, he brought the towel down to the bottom of the rail, where it hardly possessed the friction to remain. As he continued to play on the slick rail, I watched with fascination as I anticipated his inevitable fall to the living room below (which, fortunately, didn’t happen that night). This reminded me of the Martin Brashir “Living with Michael Jackson” Special on ABC last year, a base spectacle that, if not for the alarming and unhealthy preoccupation displayed by Jacko toward little boys, would have represented the zenith of Unintentional Comedy (a concept I will explain in a later entry). Specifically, I remembered the incident in Berlin where Wacko Jacko dangled his baby son Prince Michael II (also known as “Blanket”) over the fifth-story railing at a hotel for the crowd of fans below. As funny as I thought the name Blanket would be for this kitten at this moment, an inkling of Good Taste prompted me to understand that naming my kitten after the endangered child of an alleged homosexual pedophile would constitute poor judgment.

Bullitt – Allusion to Steve McQueen character and movie with timeless car chase. This name had it all – the grey kitten, speeding around, and a Steve freaking McQueen movie. Unfortunately, “Bullitt” just didn’t seem right. Also, the kitten didn’t seem to like it as much as the name I finally settled on…

Wolfy – Not as perfectly logical as “Bullitt”, but it was always on the radar (it’s a reference to my second-favorite character in Pulp Fiction, the Wolf), until a couple of nights ago, when the kitten jumped up on my chest as I was about to go to sleep. I asked him “How do you like ‘Wolfy’?” The kitten started purring contentedly, and he had his name.

Wolfy then bit me on the nipple (!), which I assume is kitten for “I view you as my mother, and I’m hungry.” Either that, or “I’m crazy, and will tear you and your house up, but since I’m so cute, there’s not much you can do about it, can you?” Little does Wolfy know that, in a few short months, I’m taking him to get his nuts chopped off…


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