The Naming Of Cats

"The Naming Of Cats is a difficult matter." The famous T.S. Eliot poem, tips on choosing cat names, and other inedible feline craziness follows.

The record breaking show, CATS the Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot.

That collection was originally published in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats in 1939.

One of those poems is entitled "The Naming Of Cats" and tells us that "a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."

It also lists some interesting kitty monikers that some people have borrowed in the past to name their own cats. The text of that poem is below.

But first, some tips on choosing cat names. The folks over at Drs. Foster & Smith have an article by Holy Nash, DVM, on choosing a name for your kitten.

Tips include avoiding names that sound like commands or other names of people or critters in the house, keeping the name short, and using "hard" consonants and vowels.

Ever wonder what cats are thinking when they're staring off into space? Eliot's poem might just be able to answer that question. He sent this poem to his Godchildren in January of 1936.

The Naming Of Cats

The Naming Of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum--
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over;
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

--T.S. Eliot, "The Naming Of Cats"

Blue British Shorthair face

Speaking of being mad as a hatter, Lewis Carroll made the "Mad Hatter" famous in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but the expression itself was in use before that.

There are several theories on the origin of that expression. There are also a number of theories surrounding the origin of the Cheshire cat.

One version of the story is that the grin of the cat is said to be based on the "smile" of the British Shorthair.

Kitten Names

Cat Lovers Only

Want More Kitties in Your Inbox?

I guarantee 100% privacy.

Comments: What do you think?

Have your say about what you just read. Leave me a comment in the box below.

Like us on Facebook

Get the book on Amazon...

Meet Our Featured Kitties

Featured kitties September, 2015

10 Cutest Kitten Moments with Marmalade and Cole

10 cutest kitten moments with Marmalade and Cole

23 Cats Who Love Boxes. "Bonus Belle" is my favorite. What's Yours? 

The Rescue of Orange and Gary

The rescue of Orange and Gary

Latest Meows

  1. My cat poops everywhere but the litter box

    I adopted my cat when she was 3 months old. I actually rescued her. At the beginning she did not pee or poop in her box and did not poop for a very long

    Read More

  2. New female cat pooping in my bathroom sink

    I got my cat one week ago. She's three years old. She has been hiding under my couch ever since. I put the litter box in my bathroom. She gets up on my

    Read More

  3. Nine Lives Rescue Mission

    We are a no-kill cat rescue organization based in Pickens, South Carolina. We work with caring people and other agencies to achieve the reduction of the

    Read More

How to Give 7 Maine Coon Kittens an Eye Test

7 Maine Coon kittens

Mama cat adopts orphaned baby bunny

Mama cat adopts baby bunny Bubbles

Which Low Cost Cat Food is the Best?

Which is the best low cost cat food

TJ the Tiger Goes on Vacation

TJ the Tiger at Big Cat Rescue

Morris the Horse Riding cat

Morris the horse riding cat

Cat Welcomes Home Soldier with a Meow and a Hug!

Adorable Orange Kitten Stalks Himself on Video

Orange kitten stalks himself on video

Weatherman Rescues Kitten from Tornado Rubble

Weatherman rescues kitten from tornado rubble

Kevin Richardson Snuggles with Lions

Kevin Richardson snuggles with cubs

Abandoned Puppy + Starving Kitten = ??

Travis puppy and Yoda kitten

Dogs Annoying Cats with Friendship

Dogs annoying cats with friendship

Shhhhh... Do Not Disturb. Adorable Kitten is So Tired!

These Two Flea Infested Kittens Had No Future, Until This Happened

You've Never Seen a Dog Show This Much Love for Foster Kittens. Until Now.

This Great Dane and Kitten Have a Love Story for the Ages. Tissue Alert.