What Your Pet's Name Says About You


As an unmarried lady who is heading full steam ahead toward age 30, I’m often confronted with the stereotype that I’m going to be one of those single urban cat people with 15 felines and no friends. This offends me. I’m a crazy all sorts of animals lady.

The big, overarching assumption that all liberal leaning progressive women are destined for cat ladydom is played out, and we need a new paradigm. Ladies who love animals love all sorts of animals, and you can’t judge a person by what sort of pet they own. However, you can judge them by what sort of name they’ve given their pet.

Let’s retire the old “crazy cat lady feminist” stereotype in favor of dozens of new ones, and combine two of the world’s most fun pasttimes- domesticated animals, and being judgmental of others as an extension of our own internalized self-loathing.

  • Food
    Examples: Biscuit, Ginger, Cookie, Muffin, Chocolate, Nacho
    What it says about you: This sort of name suggests that whoever named the pet is four years old. If you’re not four, it’s a good thing you haven’t had kids yet, because you can’t even be counted on to muster the creativity necessary to give an animal a respectable name. You got an ill-advised Chinese character tattoo in the early 2000’s, even though you’re not Chinese. You thought it meant “love,” but it really means “General Tso’s Chicken Special.” (Exceptions: if you name your pet some bizarre food item like Huitlacoche, then hats off to you, my friend.)
  • Celebrity
    Examples: Inspectah Deck, Jennifer Aniston, James Earl Jones, Justin Bieber
    What it says about you: You’re hilarious, unless you named your cat Johnny Depp in hopes that it would cause Johnny Depp to fall in love with you; in that case, you’re sad.
  • Stadium/athlete
    Examples: Wrigley, Jeter, Pippin (as in Scottie), Chipper (as in Jones), Kirby (as in Puckett), Kobe (as in Bryant)
    What it says about you: You’re a terror to be around for entire months of the year. Your mood fluctuates violently with the performance of the team you’ve chosen to support, and after a loss, you’re inconsolable and most likely drunk. You can’t figure out what to do with all those free plastic cups they give away with the extra giant sized beers you buy in baseball stadiums. A quarter of your wardrobe consists of officially licensed apparel. You have a framed picture of a sports arena somewhere in your house.
  • Boring
    Examples: Rover, Spike, Spot, Killer, Fluffy, Brutus
    What it says about you: Depending on the pet’s size and personality as juxtaposed with the name (example: kitten named Killer= always funny. As is a Rottweiler named Fluffy.), this can be either amazingly genius or exceptionally lazy.
  • Fictional human or humanlike character from literature
    Examples: Jane Eyre, Bilbo Baggins, Hermione, Heathcliff, Hal Incandenza, Nancy Drew
    What it says about you: The most difficult part of moving, for you, is the fact that you have six boxes laden with books so heavy that even the burly movers you’ve hired to assist you are having trouble. You can’t seem to throw any of them away, though. The Norton Anthology of English Literature that you haven’t opened since college? You might need that someday! That’s good literature! You’re constantly running out of shelf space. You’re so literary that you are literally Belle from Beauty & the Beast. Literally.
  • Mythological/defunct or pre-modern era deity
    Examples: Minerva, Osirus, Quetzalcoatl, Thor, Medusa
    What it says about you: You’re a nerd, and the level of obscurity of the deity or mythological figure dictates how big a nerd you are. Zeus? Congratulations on owning 300 on Blu-Ray disc. Agamenmon? That’s some AP history level nerdery. Gitchi-Manitou? I don’t know that it’s kosher to name a Jack Russell terrier after the Ojibwa god of creation, but hats off to you for being stratospherically nerdy.
  • Human first name
    Examples: Bella, Evelyn, Norman, George, Rufus
    What it says about you: A crony of mine posed an interesting theory about people who give animals people first names. She thinks that people who name animals after humans give the animals names that the owners would secretly like to name their offspring if they only had the balls and the agreement from their partners. I’m inclined to agree with her. However, all bets are off when it comes to naming a dog “Molly.” Another associate pointed out that there are way too many dogs named Molly, for no good reason.
  • Title of Royalty
    Examples: Princess, Prince, King, Queenie, Duchess, Lady
    What it says about you: You probably own at least one tank top festooned with your airbrushed nickname. You are rude to the wait staff at the Olive Garden, because you love the idea of ordering someone who is wearing a tie around, because you think it means that you’re better than all people with ties on. You put sassy bumper stickers on your car in an ongoing attempt to start an argument with the world that ends with you throwing a cell phone at it. The world does not wish to have this discussion with you.
  • Hyper aggressive action name
    Examples: Killdozer, Megatron, Blast-Off!
    What it says about you: You’re a boy under the age of 5.
  • After something related to a career or hobby
    Examples: Ruth (as in Bader Ginsburg, legal nerds!), Jpeg (designers), Greenspan (finance folk), Couch (unemployed)
    What it says about you: All of your friends are from work.
  • Inherited
    Examples: You adopted an animal that was used to one name, and just kept it.
    What it says about you: You don’t have enough in you to retrain the animal to a new name.
  • Historical
    Examples: Sir Edmund Hillary, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Copernicus
    What it says about you: You’re an underfunded academic with a chip on your shoulder. No one appreciates how hard you’ve worked and no one ever will. Not even little Machiavelli the labrador.
  • Feminist historical
    Examples: Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinam, Rosa Luxemberg
    What it says about you: You often worry that you’re not feminist enough and occasionally accuse others of not being feminist enough. You make subversive cross stitch craft projects or went through a strong riot grrrl phase or participated in a SlutWalk or majored in women’s studies… or all of the above.
  • Criminal
    Examples: Pablo (as in Escobar), Al Capone, Unibomber, Osama bin Laden (too soon.)
    What it says about you: You decorated your college dorm room with a big Scarface poster (original!). You have, at one point, worn a tee shirt featuring a Looney Tune character wearing baggy jeans and a red bandana. It’s hilarious when Tweety Bird gets all thugged out! You think that the proper way to hold a gun is “sideways” and you still listen to Eminem. You’ve just got a lot of anger that society doesn’t understand. You’re probably not a drug dealer, but you want people to think you might be.
  • After yourself
    Examples: My dad keeps threatening to name his next hunting dog after himself. He’s got a really mundane, common Dad type first name. Think Steve, Jim, Dave, or Joe. My mom’s not a fan of this plan.
    What it says about you: You’re my dad, or you and my dad should be friends.
  • Sacrilegious
    Examples: Jesus, God the Dog, St. Boniface, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mary Magdalene, Krishna
    What it says about you: You’re going to hell, but you’re probably a lot of fun to drink with so long as the night doesn’t end in arrest or broken limbs. You have a tattoo that disqualifies you from at least three entire industries’ worth of jobs. You’re an artist. Your parents are Republicans.
  • How about you, readers? Do you have any pets? What are their names?
  • Full disclosure: I’ve owned pets named Ginger (I was four and boring), George Bernard Shaw (I was 15 and pretentious), Norman (my brother named that one), Beverly (my mom’s handiwork), Daryl, Trisha, Sid Vicious, Ruby, Benny the Bunny, various sheep with old lady names, and my current cat, Eleanor Roosevelt, pictured above.
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