Home Columns Anantha Narayan Cat’s out of the bag

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    To most nerds of my generation, CAT conjures up imagery of a much reviled entrance exam that decides whether youa��re IIM-material or not. To civil and sometimes uncivil engineers, a cat is a pet name for dozers, loaders, pavers and excavators. And to a few kind souls, ita��s a meowing and purring furry little thing with more oomph and charm than a mere doggie.

    The essayist and poet, TS Eliot, was a legendary cat person. Among his greatest works was Old Possuma��s Book of Practical Cats a�� an anthology of humorous verses that dishes out practical wisdom on the feline species on a range of topics including naming. Hea��s of the view that every pussy must have three names: a�?Tigera��, a�?Oscara��, a�?Jaspera�� and a�?Felixa�� kind of trite monikers hea��s often bestowed; a�?Jellyloruma��, a�?Milkshakea�� and a�?Monkustrapa�� type of quirky names that cats react and respond to; and a mystic name that no one but the cat knows to be true.

    Eliot put his naming wisdom to use when he picked a�?George Pushdragona��, a�?Pettipawsa��, a�?Wiscusa��, a�?Mungojerriea�� and a�?Rumpelteazera�� as his pets. Ernest Hemingway (the writer who lived with 30 cats) was far more adventurous with his nomenclature. a�?Crazy Christiana��, and a�?Friendless Brothera�� were among his favourite ones. Relatively speaking, Mark Twain was a little inventive. He didna��t settle for anything lesser than a�?Satana��, a�?Beelzebuba��, a�?Sina��, a�?Pestilencea�� and a�?Faminea��.

    Charles Dickens was easily the most unimaginative author. He named his kitty a�?Williama�� and then abruptly changed it to a�?Williaminaa�� when it gave birth to kittens. Wonder why he didna��t better it. Cat got his tongue?

    The best bunch of cat names, that Ia��ve come across, is from Americaa��s business magnate Martha Stewart. a�?Beethovena��, a�?Mozarta��, a�?Vivaldia��, and a�?Verdia�� make up her clowder. The names are so musical, it befits a Cat Stevens instead of Martha Stewart. Anyway,, her inspiration could have been The Great Gatsby novelist F Scott Fitzgerald. He apparently had a cat called a�?Chopina��.

    Among politicos, George Busha��s a�?Indiaa�� and Bill Clintona��s a�?Socksa�� are fairly popular. Whata��s less known is the fact that Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraitha��s cat was originally named Ahmedabad. When he shortened it to a�?Ahmeda�� there was a ruckus. So he renamed a�?Ahmedabada�� to a�?Gujarata��! Now that Ia��ve let enough cats out of the bag, I shall vamoose.

    -A�Anantha Narayan

    (Know of any interesting cat names? Rat on them to anantha@albertdali.com)


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