Naming Cats is a Futile Exercise

by admin | October 21, 2016 8:41 am

kitties-1[1]The issue of naming cats popped up recently in our household. Our four-legged population has doubled with the addition of a pair of three-month-old kittens. They were dumped in front of my brother-in-law’s place in the country. That is a bad habit of some East Texans, dumping unwanted animals as if somehow that solves the problem. It just becomes someone else’s concern. As soon as Jim sent a cell-phone photo of these kitties to my Beautiful Mystery Companion, I knew we were about to go back into the cat business, after a hiatus of several years.

One of the kittens is orange and white with fairly short hair. The other, who likely was the litter’s runt, is soft orange with longer hair. Both are cute as the dickens and remarkably calm — for kittens. They are living in the shop for now as my BMC gets them adjusted to an indoor routine. (The shop is an attached one-car garage, so the kittens live close by and visit often.) Eventually they will live in the house. They will be trained to do their business outside, ending the need for a litter box. I am confident in my BMC’s ability to accomplish this. She is an experienced cat whisperer. For now, they readily took to using the litter box.

Watching kittens play is more entertaining than most anything on Netflix, and it certainly beats cable. These two guys are brothers, confirmed by the veterinarian, and are in excellent health. In a few months, they will be neutered. Lord knows there are plenty of domestic cats in the world. We do not want to contribute to any more arriving. They bat around cat toys, chase each other and wrestle, climb on everything and love to be held.

My BMC, daughter Abbie and I batted around names while the kittens batted about a fuzzy ball on a string sticking out of a couch cushion. Click and Clack. Tom and Ray. Gadget and Gizmo. Felix and Oscar. Doc and Wyatt. What stuck, in the end, was Tot and Tater. Tater is the larger orange-and-white kitten, and Tot is the runt.

Anyone who has ever been around cats knows this key feline fact: Naming cats is about as effective as naming rocks, in terms of expecting them to come when called. From Felix to One-Eyed Jack, from Otto to Maggie, to cats whose names are lost to my uncertain memory, I have never been the Food Guy (you don’t own cats) to a cat that answered to anything except:

Here, Kitty, Kitty. Nothing else works. And Tater and Tot won’t work either, unless we adopt the “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” tone in our voice, that annoying high-pitched whine that turns self-respecting adults into “Sesame Street” characters. Here Tater. Here Tot!

Shaking the cat-food bag is also very effective.

Rosie and Sam have decidedly different attitudes about Tater and Tot. Rosie, who resembles Chewbacca, wants to play with them and is thrilled by their arrival. Sam, part poodle and cocker spaniel and full-time doofus, wants to chase them. He tries to chase every cat encountered on our morning walk, held back only by the leash and my firm grip. We are slowly working on his manners. Since Sam is a slow learner, it will be some time before he will be trusted on his own with kitties — if ever.

Meanwhile, Tater and Tot have limited visiting privileges and a darned good life. I keep telling them, as one or the other attempts to perch on my shoulder, “You guys have won the kitty lottery! Good food, free health care, doting adults. Be grateful!”

Who am I kidding? These are cats! They will grow up to be indifferent, mysterious animals that do what they please, come when they feel like and completely ignore my orders to quit using the couch as a scratching post.

At least when there is nothing appealing on Netflix, we can always watch the cats at play.

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