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We Got a Kitten and We Can’t Agree on What to Name It

by Jennifer Heller on September 28, 2012

Ever since Will and I departed with our awesome roommate Ellen and her cat, Shawn, we have had a cat-sized hole in our hearts.

Gus and Shawn

With a memory like this, it’s lucky we didn’t bleed to death!

We went back and forth about what to fill that hole with. We tried television, and it worked pretty well when we had Downton Abbey to watch obsessively. But we caught up and then that hole kept aching and screaming, “KITTEN!!”

Shut up, hole, we said for weeks. “SHUT UP!”

Until one day last week, it was just plain time.

I surfed Craigslist. It didn’t take me long before I’d located THE kitten for us, Kendale:

You see, we’ve trained The Guster to sit up on our laps like a human. Here he is sitting on Will’s lap while Will gets his hair cut. What a talented cat!

There was no way we could turn down a cat who also sits like a human!

We picked him up. We took him home. Gus was mad, but we knew that was going to happen, now didn’t we?

The trouble was…we couldn’t pick a name. The name he came with — Kendale — was fairly dissatisfying. His foster mom confessed that he was named while enjoying some wine…and therefore named him after wine. Now, we can definitely understand how that might happen, but we’re more beer people. So that was just not going to work for us.

How can a cat resemble wine?

We just didn’t see the resemblance.

The truth is:

  • We acquired a grey tabby to hang out with our orange tabby.
  • The Guster was first named Garfield, in honor of the obvious reference.

I felt strongly that the choice of a name was clear: this grey tabby needed to be named Nermal.

Here’s why:

  • Nermal’s a super cute grey tabby cat, just like the kitten we had acquired!
  • Nermal is a man, though he sounds like a woman. Got that one down.
  • Garfield hates Nermal for being too cute — exactly what was happening at our house all day, every day.
  • Some day we’d like to get a dog. If we named it Odie, we’d have the whole family!
  • The word “Nermal” is a fairly good, non-competitive search term. Therefore blogs about my cats, Garfield and Nermal, were bound to get search traffic. WIN!
  • If we named him Nermal, our house would be full of hijinks like this:

Garfield & Nermal

Garfield and Nermal. Cats destined by fate to be together, right?

See the way Nermal's being cute while Gus is begging for food?  It totally fits.

See the way Nermal’s being cute while Gus is begging for food? It totally fits.

Now we don’t call Gus Garfield unless he’s in trouble. Similarly, I’m not committed to calling the new cat Nermal for more than a blog entry or two.

But Will didn’t think fate and SEO were good enough reasons to name him Nermal. He did, however, get on board with calling him an “N” name so that it might be a nickname for Nermal. If that worked out that way.

I was willing to find another “N” name.

For a while we called him “Ned.” That was a pretty good name. Catchy. Ned and Gus! What a pair!


Does this guy look like a Ned??

Will kept pulling for “Nevil,” and this technically was his cat. So we went with Nevil for a few days. It was not very catchy and I was having a terrible time remembering it.

The other night we settled on “Norm” after Norm on Cheers. He’s friendly, jolly and he likes beer. We like him.

And, now we can make jokes about how he’s the norm. Not that those jokes will be any good, let’s be honest.

With a tongue this long, perhaps we should name him “Giraffe?” Or “Lizard”?

We’re doing okay with Norm, but neither of us are really in love with it. It just doesn’t quite suit him.

The sad part is that most of the time we just call him "Kitten."

The sad part is that most of the time we just call him “Kitten.”

It turns out that naming a cat is fairly hard. I was unnamed for about two weeks before my parents finally settled on “Jennifer.” Should we name him “Jennifer”? That would be confusing, right?

Or maybe we should take a cue from Modern Family and name it Larry. It’s as good a name as any.

Too many options!

Have you ever had a hard time naming a pet? How did you finally decide?

Questions? Comment? Cigars? Cigarettes?


This is the best thing I've seen all day! Congratulations on your cat family!


What about Nimbus. Hey's grey so dark cloud fits (as long as you don't make the leap to gloomy). And if you call him Nimby for short, people will always ask, although that could get annoying, or not.


But I call Gus "Kitten"! 

Take a page from the parents. It's time to call a pet psychic!!!!!!!! Then new cat can tell you what it's name is! Then new cat won't turn into a whiner like Gus! THE TIME IS NOW TO CALL A PET PSYCHIC TO SAVE NEW CAT! 

JenniferHeller moderator

@alexandraheller I agree that calling a pet psychic might be the best thing to do about this. I do think Heather is psychic and she suggested Kyle. How do you feel about Kyle?But the trouble is that Kitten is already whining!  I don't know that there's much hope for avoiding that.

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