Character of the Week: The Cat Names

I told you last week that this writer came back for more. He didn’t end up using one of my “Bear” names, but I think he was more enthused with this “Cat” name.

The Writer Describes the Character

I’ve decided to rename one of my characters. I would like something that sounds slightly pretentious but that can be shortened into something sharp and kind of cool-guyish, preferably a one syllable nickname. 

Current Name: Devin

Male, Late Teens – 17ish
The Fantasy world he lives in, Crisa, is entirely covered in a multi-layered city. He was born in the richest part of the city.
Snobby, particular, his parents were always disappointed in his wild, alley-cat tendencies. Cold.
Parents unnamed but character is the third or fourth in the line – so “whatever, whatever the Third/Fourth”. Only child.
Coworkers/Fellow ‘Hunters’: Calum – The Wolf, Junah – The Fox, Armel – The Bear
He is what is known as a Hunter, a mix of bounty hunter and assassin. Hunters work for an unknown force (unknown even to them) though they suspect it is the ones called the UnSeen. Each Hunter has a sort of animal representative and takes on some degree of characteristics of that animal, in this case: The Cat. Like most cats, he is curious to a fault, is given to wandering off on his own and often gets stuck in situations he can’t get himself out of. Like most Siamese cats, is talkative and demands constant attention from his fellow Hunters. Is a bit sensitive to perceived rejections. Much of his confidence is faked. Is endlessly embarrassed of his rich upbringing and his rather fine breeding because he feels it makes him somehow less than his fellow Hunters—in particular the Wolf—and therefore keeps it a secret. No one knows just how he fell from favor amongst his family.
Fantasy with just the occasional dash of Sci-Fi elements, mainly in advanced engineering

Since this writer didn’t take any of my “Bear” names, I didn’t try to find meaning names for The Cat. Instead I searched for names on the Social Security Administration’s Baby Names list that were posh-sounding and which had nickname potential (as requested).

My Reply to the Writer

  • Holden (Holt) the Cat AKA Holden Spencer, IV
  • Orion (Rye) the Cat AKA Orion Spencer, IV
  • Chester (Chet) the Cat AKA Chester Spencer, IV
  • Ramsey (Ram) the Cat AKA Ramsey Spencer, IV
  • Jedediah (Jed) the Cat AKA Jedediah Spencer, IV

The writer replied: I’m really liking Orion, and I LOVE the name Rye! My Mom actually had a cat named Rye when I was a kid. It’s a great name for one. Holden (Holt) is a possibility too. Even the last name you came up with should work well. I’ll play around with those two first names and see which one works best. Thanks!

Even though I didn’t go to 20,000 Names for this round, the name this writer really likes—Orion—is one that site suggests as a cat name!

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Character of the Week: A Robot and His Dog Names

This one was a truly unique naming.

The Writer Describes the Character

Okay, my characters aren’t exactly HUMAN, but they have human names. 

Gender: Male
Species: Robot/AI (humanoid)
Age: Unknown (est. 150+)
Where born/raised: New York City
Info about parents: (father) Government scientist and robotics engineer, conservative
Career and characteristics: he doesn’t really have a “career”. He goes around from place to place, basically surviving. He usually just collects things that catch his eye. He is very small, about three and a half feet tall, with a battered silver-blue metal frame. He’s humanoid, with five fingers and no toes. His body is made of simple rounded shapes, his entire torso just an egg and his arms rounded. He wears a yellow construction hat with a bright light attached to it, has a backpack with one strap across his chest, and heavy brown gloves. His head is rounded at the top and flatter on the bottom, with a single blue-light eye. He wears a red bandanna around his neck. He has an MP3 player attachment inside of his chest (a plate slides down). He takes snippets of the song lyrics in order to communicate with the humans that he meets.
Genre: Sci-fi, Apocalypse
Note: He’s a little robot, so I’d sorta like something simple. Also, he refers to himself as “Sir ___” because he calls his dog/companion “Lord ___”, so something that sounds okay or cool with “Sir” would be wonderful.

Gender: Male
Species: Dog
Age: Unknown (est. 1-1.5)
Where born/raised: Unknown (found in Washington D.C.)
Names of parents/siblings/love interests: Angel (female German Shepherd)
Career and characteristics: he basically survives along with his companion (above). They are packmates in his eyes, with his companion being the alpha. He hunts the small animals that they find, which are surprisingly plentiful. He looks like a Golden Retriever, but with slightly shorter fur and a more reddish-gold coloring. His eyes are golden brown, and one if his ears is shredded.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Apocalypse
Note: He is referred to as “Lord ___” by the above character, so something that sounds cool like that would be nice. Oh, and a unique, human, name, too. Not Spot or Spike or Rufus. Foreign names are welcome for either character.
Thank you! I don’t know if you can do non-humans, but it would be much appreciated!

So this robot character seems a little like a Wall-e, but with some different quirks. Any creature who refers to himself as Sir So-and-So, and to his dog as Lord Not-Dog-Name, is definitely quirky. I just had to discover in what way.

I tried to put myself into this robot’s mind, to think about why he would like using these honorifics and what may have inspired his name choices. I think I had a good concept, but I could see the writer using my thought to come up with other name choices.

My Reply to the Writer

I have chosen names from the Round Table (or related names). Sirs became Lords, and Kings became Sirs. I think anyone who calls himself Sir and his dog Lord would probably be obsessed by or inspired by something.

  • Sir Benwick
  • Sir Arthur
  • Sir Pellinor
  • Sir Loth
  • Sir Gaul
  • Lord Gallath
  • Lord Lionel
  • Lord Tristan
  • Lord Ector
  • Lord Mordred

The writer replied: Thank you so much! Those names are amazing! I like Sir Pellinor and Lord Tristan the best.

This naming definitely made me think. I think that’s what I love about Sci-Fi and Fantasy namings: I have to stretch myself to consider the characters’ worlds and perspectives before I can search for appropriate names. You see, character motivation is important on so many levels.

Name Theory: Name Them to Sell

When given the opportunity to name something, like our elf, I often try to think of names the same way I do with character names. It is one way to practice naming and, as you may have guessed, I enjoy the hunt for the perfect name.

So, it makes me a little sad and frustrated when others don’t seem to put any real thought into naming.

I got a pet snail for my father in-law for Christmas this year. I know this may sound odd, but he really enjoys SpongeBob and especially that character’s pet snail, Gary (who meows!). Also my FIL is very scientifically minded, and he loves studying thing and beings, most recently adopting a spider that lived in his office until its death a few weeks ago.

I didn’t know about the spider when I chose the gift, but my husband, his mother, and his father all commented on it when they learned of the snail. The snail has become the replacement pet, in a way.

With my own brand of control freak, and with my penchant for naming, I have spent the last few weeks considering names for the snail. I considered Bob (since it is yellow like the sponge), rhyme names like Larry or Barry, and pure unisex names like Alex or Lee (since the snail is a hermaphrodite). In the end, I didn’t put too much effort into it because I knew whatever I said my FIL would call it whatever he wanted.

My husband and son kept calling the snail Gary, and I kept saying, “Don’t call him that. He doesn’t even look like Gary. Gary is pink.” But they didn’t listen.

Maybe I should have. My FIL is calling the snail Gary.

Ugh.

I’ll get over it. It’s his pet, and he loves Gary so the name is also a bit of an endearment.

Still, I wish I could do something about the SPCA. You see, the local SPCA has a mini-store in the mall with mostly cats, which we visit whenever we’re shopping. And guess who loves to see what every cat or rabbit or rat is named?

Mostly the names are tame, like Emily, and sometimes they get some interesting ones like Vader for a black cat, but sometimes I just want to slap whoever named certain of the animals.

Most often when I’ve gone there in the past few weeks there has been a great turnover in the cats there. Many people are adopting new pets for the holidays, which is great. One of the cats that didn’t get adopted is Pasta Batman.

Seriously. No joke.

At first I thought it was cute, like maybe the cat likes to steal pasta and sneaks around in the dark of night to do so. Nope. The brown female cat was named after a dog in an NPR story. The cat does not like pasta, does not stalk around in the dark (it’s a napper), and is not any kind of a man.

And the cat is not selling.

You see, if I was naming these cats I would name them to sell. I read an article a few months ago about a dog named after a brand that was adopted by someone who loved that brand, and it got me to thinking that if you named an animal correctly you could get it a new home faster.

I think that by naming pets with names that the demographic which is shopping for them will recognize (SpongeBob might be a good name, actually), you will increase the chance that people will take a chance on those pets.

I wish the SPCA would think about that, because if they did then those two rat brothers (whose former owner was a hoarder) might have been adopted long ago. Instead they have been there for weeks with little to no interest.

Their unfortunate names are Carl and Rick, which I immediately guessed were a reference to the Walking Dead even though I’ve never seen that show. Carl and Rick might be a funny reference for a fan of the show, but to others they sound like clunky middle aged dad names, bordering on creepy old man names. And the demographic that watches that show is not the demographic that would adopt rats.

Rats would primarily be interesting as pets to young families with children who seek an easy pet (Bert and Ernie or Remy and Emile would be good names to sell to this demographic), and college students or young adults who can only have caged pets (Wormtail and Scabbers or Leonard and Sheldon may appeal to this demographic).

It makes me sad every time I see those rats in the SPCA store, every time I see someone peak at their name card and then walk away. As the victims of a hoarder, they deserve a forever home where they will be loved and cared for.

And where, maybe, they will receive new names given with love.