March 10, 2005

I lived in the desert with a cat with no name

Debby sent me a link to a delightful essay in praise of a cat whose name changes monthly: Abraham Lincoln (for now). I felt a special kinship to the author of the piece, not merely because I am a cat owner, but because I also once owned a cat whose name changed regularly.

It was way back in 1991, when I was just out of college and sharing an apartment in Santa Fe with my friend-on-whom-I-had-a-longstanding-desperate-but-unrequited-crush Betsey. A friend of a friend was moving out of town and couldn't take his cat with him, and we offered to adopt it. I no longer remember what name the cat arrived with; all I know is that neither of us liked it. But we couldn't agree on what to rename him. I favored the name "Fang" (since he had a tendency to suddenly start biting one's hand while one was in the middle of what seemed like a pleasant petting session), but Betsey didn't care for it.

We eventually hit upon a compromise plan where we each wrote names on many small slips of paper, shuffled them, dealt them out face down on the floor in a circle, and placed a piece of cat food on each one. We then placed the cat in the middle of the circle. Whichever name's piece of cat food got eaten first would henceforward be the cat's name.

A new plan soon had to be come up with, though, because the cat ate the piece of food on top of the piece of paper that said "Fang", and Betsey was having none of it. We then hit upon the idea of changing the cat's name once a week; we would start with Fang and move on from there. We hung a little sign from the dining room light fixture that said "The cat's name is..." The current cat's name dangled beneath that, attached by a binder clip. I don't remember most of the interim names we went through, but we did eventually hit upon a name which we both liked, and which the cat actually seemed to respond to, so we kept it.

That name: Icky Sticky Valentine.

Posted by Francis at 11:28 AM