This post could equally well have been entitled “My cats are named after Olympic champions”, although it is true that you will be looking a while before you find Olympians with those specific surnames. When I got my cats I had been thinking about cat names for a while (note to non-cat-lovers: no, this is not sad. It is an exercise which is not only pleasurable and rewarding, but also extremely important, as you will see if you read on. Breathe deeply if you feel nauseous….) My old cat had died in July and I was thinking about giving a home to some other deserving felines, and names were an important issue.
When I got Tigger, who was my first cat, she was eight years old and already had a name. Tigger was not the name I would have chosen for her, but it seemed rude to change it as she was probably used to it. In fact this instinct I believe is right; people may say that cats can’t possibly recognise their own names, and are responding to tone of voice and body language, but that has not been my experience. On occasion middle-aged brain-melt has led me to address one of my cats by the name of the other, and they usually respond to the name, regardless of the fact that they are not the cat being addressed. If I had adopted adult cats, I would probably have stuck with their own names for this reason.
However, my plan to rehome two adult cats was scuppered by a colleague who had a litter of accidental kittens to dispose of. On hearing of Tigger’s death his response may be summed up as “I’m very sorry for your loss would you like a kitten?” Refusal was not an option once he started emailing pictures of “Miss Llama Jennings and Miss Rambina Jennings enjoying the Olympics”, which translated as a picture of two kittens asleep on his son’s chest under his tee-shirt. I agreed to take them.
I had a few weeks between this point and actually receiving them as they were down in Salisbury and I had no immediate weekends free in which they could be fetched. This gave me time to think about names. They rejoiced in the names of Llama and Rambina as they were semi-feral and prone to a lot of hissing and spitting. Rambina originated from a night when their mother had kicked down the catflap and removed them to the garden. Robert and his sons recovered all but one, which spent the night under a bush and was subsequently christened Rambina. Had I known it was my gentle little Katherine who had been sleeping rough down in Wiltshire I would have cleared my diary and hightailed it down there to scoop them up immediately and bring them safely home, but I did not know them then.
I had no qualms about renaming them. Quite apart from the fact that even my sensitivity stopped short of having two cats named Llama and Rambina, I thought it highly unlikely they recognised their names. As I have mentioned, this was the summer of the Olympics, and with so many exceptional women athletes gracing our screens, naming them after female Olympians was the obvious choice. Had they been boys they might have been called Rockall and Bailey in honour of my love of Radio 4, but these did not seem appropriate names for girls.
More (or should that be meeoorrrwww) tomorrow