What is your cat’s real name? Do you know? No, you probably don’t know. Although this post features my cats it is not solely about cats’ names. It is about animals. All animals.
My wife and I have three cats.
- Two of our cats get along fairly well: Mawey and Beannacht.
- Two of our cats get along okay-ish: Beannacht and Thumb Cat.
- Two of our cats do not get along: Thumb Cat and Mawey.
I notice their distinct personalities and quirky interactions on a daily basis. I have tried a few different things to get Thumb Cat and Mawey to get along better. And then one day my wife and I saw a show called “My Cat From Hell,” which features a cat whisperer. I realize this man is on a reality show where nothing is “really” real. But there are enough aspects of reality to this show that made me realize how much fear, anger, and personality cats can have. This cat whisperer’s gig is that he goes to a home with a “cat from hell” and within a few weeks of therapy/training with the cat, he can turn the hell cat into a cool kitten.
So this show has made me want to redouble my efforts with Thumb Cat and Mawey. Thumb Cat is nearly four pounds bigger than Mawey, but Mawey pounces on nearly everything. In addition, Thumb Cat runs from cats half his size when they come to the window. So one cat is too rough, and the other cat is a scaredy cat. Well, if cats are so distinctive in personality, what are their real names?
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 effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular name – Cats, Naming of Cats Lyrics
I began thinking about this because of a story that again made news recently about dolphins calling each other by name. Dolphins are very intelligent. It is easy for many people to think about dolphins as a living creature that deserves respect. For many people it is equally easy to think of cats as complex creatures. And wolves. Wolves are animals that have hierarchy within the pack, notably having an alpha and omega wolf. This implies intense interpersonal interactions and respect within the wolf pack.
Do wolves call each other by name? Do cats and dogs call each other by name? It is easy to treat an “animal” as something less than human because animals are a lesser species. Dumb animals. Except that cats have very distinct personalities. And wolves have very distinct hierarchies in their packs. And dolphins call each other by name.
Do you see where this is going? How many “lesser species” are so advanced that they might be calling each other by name? It would not surprise me to discover that cats call each other by name. It would not surprise me to discover that my Thumb Cat has some unflattering nicknames for my Mawey.
I just think people would treat their pets and other animals with a different level of respect if they considered, for a moment, that those animals may have individual names… even if we don’t know those names.
One of my friends said her cows “moo” loudly at night for a week or two after the baby calves are taken away. She said it’s because the momma cows are calling for their babies. Well… did the momma cows’ babies have names?