Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Naming Of Cats...

I am starting the search for Sylvester's successor... actually, I hope to get two cats, to keep each other company during the day when I'm out at work. My mother suggested that I get two kittens, because they are cute, and I missed Sylvester's kittenhood because I "inherited" him from my sister when he was about four years old... However, kittens are hard work, especially on furniture, and my landlord might have something to say about it...

I mentioned to His Hermeneuticalness that I was gearing up for the new kitty search, and he immediately wanted to know what I would call my next cat, or cats... The poem by T.S. Eliot flitted through my mind at that point...

I opined that it rather depended on meeting the cat. Sylvester, for example, was not named for the feline in the Tweety-Pie cartoons, but for Pope St. Sylvester - I thought that the name suited him... I later discovered that Felis sylvestris is the Latin name for the wildcat, which merely confirmed my instinctive choice.

Fr. Tim disagreed, so we discussed possible names. I explained that I didn't want a name that could be mistaken for a real person, so "Benedict" isn't an option.

Working on the papal theme, Fr. Tim suggested that I name a cat for Blessed Pius IX - Mastai-Ferretti. I pointed out that it was a bit of a mouthful, but the idea of Mastai-"Furr"-etti did appeal. A little further research when I returned home revealed further possibilities: Meow-ro Cappellari (Gregory XVI) and Gioacchino Purr-chi (Leo XIII.)

Last night, someone suggested Cardinal Catzinger...

Anyway, while we're on the subject (it's a slow day for me blogwise) here is the famous poem by T.S. Eliot (I used to know it off by heart!)

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
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

13 comments:

Mark said...

A cat with a passion for pursuing rodents might favour "Achille Ratti" (Pius XI)...

Mac McLernon said...

Heheheh... Fr. Tim mentioned him too!

Patricius said...

Keeping with the papal theme- have you considered Celestine or Eleutherius? They are both mentioned in a prayer for England written, I think, by Cardinal Wiseman. Such grand and melifluous names deserve bearers!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Mercedes & Chardonney!

Dominic said...

As a Russianist (who learned a fair bit of the language by reading the poet I'm about to mention by candlelight in post-Soviet dystopia), I was delighted to see that the good taste of the Birmingham Oratorians runs to naming their house cat "Pushkin".

"Cardinal Catzinger" did make me laugh, though.

Delia said...

I once knew a monastic cat called 'Magnificat'!

The world is my cloister said...

We will be bringing home a new kitten on Friday. She was to be called 'Tessie' after Teresa of Avila, whose feast it will be, but I have be over ruled today and now Juniper is in the mix. After, 'She is Juniper and Satin..', Berkeley Girl by Harpur Simon. She is a British blue kitty, so my Ma wanted something blue-ish and, preferably, from the garden! Good luck with naming your cat. I am sorry about the loss of Sylvester, I know how that feels.

xx

Left-Footer said...

It's not done for Polish pets to have Christian names. My cats were called Gapeć = clumsy, Łatka = splodge, and Północ = midnight, because he was jet black.

Have you thought of (yes of course you have) Maher-shalal-hash-baz = speedy to the plunder, mentioned in Isaiah?

Zephyrinus said...

I swear I once heard Sylvester say that he wished he had been named ZEPHYRINUS !!!! And, if you get two kittens, you can name them ZEPHYRINUS I and ZEPHYRINUS II.
Soi disant, or what !!!

Elizabeth said...

I think your idea to name the cat when you get it is best. Cat's seem to bring a name with them. We named our last cat "Boo" because he was afraid of everything when we got him. (That soon changed!).

margaret said...

Cardinal Catzinger? *snort* *giggle*

Mine are Miss Tilney and Miss Darcy. Miss Darcy is sweet and a little shy so aptly named but Miss Tilney, who must have her share in the conversation and is downright bossy, probably should have been Lady Catherine.

catholicofthule said...

Of course, in your search for new kitties, you have to proceed with caution. My sister eventually decided to get a wee Norwegian forest cat kitten after her cat of many years disappeared. Then she saw another wee one which charmed her when she was there to pick up wee Ylvapus. She ended up buying Zitapus a week or so later. And then she was on a roll...: http://www.haapets.com/ Norwegian Forest kitties galore!!! :-)

Hawker said...

What about Tiglath Pileser- a Babylonian king: I've known of clergy cats named thus. Or Melchizidek.

Or, in a completely secular vein, friends of mine and myself came up with cat names based on great dictators of the 20th Century:
Kitty Amin,
Pussilini
Kitler
Chairman Miaow

There were others, which I (thankfully) can't remember.

Oh, and give my regards to Zephyrinus: I seem to remember I was on an LMS conference with him...

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