TGIF: Spot? Rover? A cat by any other name would look as cute
One of my most memorable columns, for me anyway, was written 15 years ago. My wife and I had adopted two kittens, who were brothers, and we needed clever names.
That column explored famous duos whose names we were considering. Certain names — Sonny and Cher, Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet, and other similar pairings — wouldn’t work. Their brother status unfortunately eliminated a host of great combinations. So, we tried out names like Ben and Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel, Beavis and Butthead, or Calvin and Hobbes. But it seemed that boy-girl names were much more interesting.
Around that time, our adult son had been cast as Ko-Ko in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Mikado” in Austin. We settled on the names of two characters from that musical — Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah.
Those characters seemed to fit exactly the personalities of these kittens, even though they were still young. The adorably cute but less handsome of the two brothers seemed ideal as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner who rose from humble beginnings to his place of honor in our household. The other cat, a long-haired stunner with a haughty attitude, was perfectly cast as Pooh-Bah, the self-important Lord Everything Else.
Pooh-Bah took his exit from this earthly stage last May, so neither of those cats is with us now. That left us with one cat, Yum-Yum, who was adopted two years after the brothers. Ko-Ko and his successor, Ko-Ko 2, each met their demise prematurely as a consequence of their habit of escaping the house and playing in the street.
Our current cat, a female, was dubbed Yum-Yum which continued the tradition of using character names from “The Mikado.” For 13 years, this rescue cat has performed the role of a clueless blonde soprano perfectly. Well, that’s not being fair. At least she’s smart enough not to play in the street as her predecessors did.
After Pooh-Bah died, my wife and I considered becoming a two-cat household again. But given the lifespans of some of our cats, which at times have ranged between 15 and 20 years, we decided we shouldn’t adopt a pet who might outlive us. Morbid, but that was our logic.
However, we didn’t count on a pet adopting us. At least, that’s what I think is happening.
Since late July, we’ve been noticing a small white cat roaming through our neighborhood. Last week, we asked around to see if any of our neighbors might claim it. No one did. After finding the remains of two birds near our birdbath, and against my better judgment, my wife and I put out a bowl of cat food. The food quickly disappeared.
We filled the bowl again. Food disappeared again.
For now, this hungry kitten has taken up residence under our parked cars and on our back deck. He accepts our hospitality but isn’t ready to approach close enough for pats on the head. And, yes, the cat is a “he.” That became obvious when he rolled on his back as if to invite us to rub his skinny tummy — but no! Keep your distance, humans.
A standoff also exists between Yum-Yum, who’s inside, and the wandering kitten, who’s outside. Yum-Yum likes her only-cat rank and isn’t at all pleased to see another feline occupying her yard. My wife thinks Yum-Yum will eventually enjoy having a new brother, but conversations between the two cats conducted through a sliding glass door sound territorial. I’ve been assured, though, things will work out fine if the kitten does adopt us.
Before that can happen, the kitten must feel secure enough to let us hold him. That’s when we’ll scoop him up and go to our veterinarian for a check-up, neutering, and a scan for a chip to determine if there’s an owner. Only then can any “adoption” move forward.
Should that happen, my wife and I will need a name. When we first saw him, he was wandering from house to house, perhaps looking for people with a soft touch. A search for foreign words that translate to “wanderer” proved unproductive.
The kitten’s all-white body is punctuated by a black spot on his left side. Should we name him Spot?
Since we were already considering names traditionally given dogs, we’ve settled on Rover. The name references his nomadic lifestyle while also appealing to our own twisted sense of irony. Remember that song “Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog” from the 1960s?
So, if you’re missing a cute white kitten with a single spot on his side, let me know. Otherwise, Rover might be home.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at email@example.com.