4 Easy Steps To Choosing a Name for a Kitten — Val Heart
Congratulations on getting a fluffy feline new bundle of joy!
So now you are considering your choices for a name for a kitten…
Despite their reputation as aloof and independent, cats will learn their names and respond to them if they feel right to your kitty. But don’t expect them to be as enthusiastic about it as a dog might be.
It’s true that cats are very independent creatures that don’t require the same training as your golden retriever or basset hound, but they are still sentient beings that form a unique bond with their person and family.
Giving them a good name, and then teaching them to respond to it in a positive way, will help with that bonding…
There are some common misconceptions about what kind of name your cat will want and be happy with
4 guidelines to consider when choosing names for a kitten…
Whether it’s a glance, a flick of the ear or tail, or even coming to you when they’re called, cats do react to their names when they know and like them. It takes a little more persistence than training your dog to respond to their name, but it can easily be done.
Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about naming your new furry feline family member:
1. General tips for name choices
Some sources say that the best names for a kitten end in the sound “ee”. They say that kittens and adult cats respond to them more readily, names like:
Smokey, Misty, Pinky, Fluffy.
I can tell you from personal experience, though, cats will respond to a name you reinforce with them, regardless of the sounds, IF they like the name.
It’s recommended that you restrict the name to no more than three syllables.
For instance my cat, Priscilla, knew her name perfectly well and always responded to it. It fit her personality, and in fact, she told me what her name was which helped a great deal.
And it’s also interesting to note that cats seem to like longer vowel sounds, rather than short. So, Marty or Smartie is preferable to Mickey or Smitty.
Having said that, pick a name that is meaningful to you, a name you’ll enjoy saying out loud for at least 10 years, probably many more if you’re lucky.
Put your heart in your voice, because your cat will pick up on the warmth more than anything. And, with the right positive reinforcement training and repetition, your cat will learn to love — and respond to — the name.
Unless you’ve chosen a name they hate or that is derogatory or disrespectful, in which case, all bets are off.
2. Once you’ve picked a name, stick with it
This is the most common mistake people make when naming their cats.
They pick a name like “Mrs. Bottomsworth” because it’s cute, but then some of the family members call her “Mrs. B”, some call her “Bottoms”, some resort to just calling her “Kitten”.
And then they’re perplexed when the cat doesn’t respond to their commands…, er, “requests” really. Kitties don’t really like being commanded about anything.
Language acquisition requires consistency and repetition, for humans and for animals.
So, when a new word is used in different contexts, is it any wonder that your cat doesn’t come when you call or give you their attention when you are seeking them?
It’s one of the best reasons to keep the name short — you’re less likely to abbreviate it and your kitten will learn their name more quickly.
3. Use their name wisely
This rule applies to both cats and dogs.
A name should never be used in a harsh tone of voice that implies punishment.
So, when training your cat, saying its name gently, smiling, and with love while you’re having a snuggle on the sofa, and then shouting it angrily at the top of your lungs when they’re on the kitchen counter sends mixed messages.
It’s possible to teach your cat basic commands — down, no, off, stop — and your tone of voice will be a cue to the meaning — but their name should never be part of negative reinforcement.
They will respond to that kind of feedback the same way a dog would. Why would they come running to you when you call their name in an angry voice, and then punish them with more harsh words? I’d run away too if I was them.
However, many cats respond very well to the sharp hissing sound “Pshhst!”, like air being let out of a tire suddenly.
It’s enough to get their attention, you can remove them from the situation, gently — take them down from the kitchen counter or stop them from peeing on your carpet and moving them to their litter box — without using their name as part of the discipline.
4. Reward your cat for responding to their name
When choosing names for a kitten, remember that, like litter box training, it will require positive reinforcement — and patience for them to learn when and how to respond.
When you first bring your kitten home, spend time cuddling, and playing with them while repeating their name. If they come to you spontaneously, greet them by their name. When feeding them, say their name.
If they come when you call, be sure to have a treat, or be prepared to spend a few moments giving them attention — scratches behind the ears, under their chin, stroking their back — while saying their name in a warm and loving tone.
A cat’s name is important to them
Just like us, cats identify with their names. They understand that it makes them part of your family, and with time and care, they’ll respond to their name just as warmly as your loyal dog.
Choose the name carefully, take the time to train them to answer to it in a positive way, and enjoy the companionship they provide when they feel loved, safe, and valued.
Be sure to ask your cat if they like the name, and listen carefully for their response.
You’ll know when you get the right name because they’ll show you positive affection and attention in a good way when you say it.
If you choose a name and they consistently ignore you and refuse to respond to it no matter what, then you’ve chosen the wrong name. Start over and keep trying until you find what suits them best.
Cats have a great deal to say if you’re willing to listen.
If you’d like to learn how to communicate with your feline family member on a deeper level, visit The Heart School of Animal Communication and find out how you can take your communication intuitive skills beyond the surface.
And if you’re having trouble with your kitty? Let’s sort that out with a private Animal Healing Problem Solving session so all is well as quickly as possible.