Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Joy of Naming Kittens

Happy New Year!
Our household is blessed with two new bouncy kittens: they sure are a great deal of fun.
Right before Christmas we went to AKcat in Wasilla (a shelter that specializes in kittens) and picked out:
8 week old FEMALE, striped, poly-dactyl (i.e. extra toes, a characteristics of Manx cats and associated with inbreeding)
10 week old MALE, black

You may ask "What are their names?"

In our family, cats have always had a multitude of names. Let me give you a little background. When I met my husband 20 years ago, he came with 2 cats: a male Manx (polydactyl without tail)named Gorbachev and a female Siamese named Belinda Sue Carstairs III. For short, we called them Kittyboy and Kittygirl. These 2 lived long and happy lives, until old age finally caught up with them. For a few years we enjoyed pet-free lives that made it easier to travel and go camping anytime without having to make arrangements for pets. But Youngest in particular has been begging for pets for years: 2 years ago we acquired geckos -- still fairly easy pets to leave for a few days camping. But we were ready to get cats again (and I have to admit overcoming my last resistance when we started getting mice/voles in the basement, plus the kids swore up and down that they would be "real good" about cleaning the litter box).

Back to our new kittens. We decided that it might take a while to find the perfect name -- after all, you got to let their personalities come out.
Our first choices were the obvious names describing each by their characteristics (striped and black). On the drive home from Wasilla, the kids came up with "Tiger Rose" for the female and "Midnight" for the male. We had just watched the movie Dr.Zhivago the night before, and my husband (who has a thing for Julie Christie) thought that Larissa Antipova (Lara, Dr. Zhivago's love interest) was the perfect name for our beautiful sweet kitten.

For the black kitten, my husband suggested George Foreman, but Wolf and I preferred Kunta Kinte from Roots, but that was voted down by the other half of the family. We needed a Black name that was not "politically incorrect". So we decided to look for a Scandinavian name, and modern family that we are, we went straight to Google Translate with its nifty feature of letting you listen to the pronunciation.

"Black kitten" translates to:
svart kattunge (swedish and norwegian)
svartur kettlingur (icelandic)
musta kissanpentu (finnish)

which would ,incidentally, be same result if you searched for the word "Negro".

"Midnight" translates to:
midnatt (swedish and norwegian)
miðnætti (icelandic)
keskiyö (finnish)
this last was one of our favorites -- it sounds so cool!

Another good name for our black kitten is something that reflects his panther-like demeanor. We think he moves a lot like Bagheera in the Djungle Book, and she looks like little Mowgli beside him, being so tiny: he sometimes walks/pounces right over her, or when they wrestle they look like Bagheera and Mowgli!

But interestingly enough, the name that actually stuck for the black kitten is Kalle. It's the scandinavian form of Karl, and we sort of named him for the character Kalle Blomkvist in the Astrid Lindgren "Pippi Longstocking" series, which is also the nickname given to one of the main characters in Stieg Larssen's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" of the Millenium trilogy, which we all read.

The female kitten's name, however, is still not entirely settled. It seems to be Larissa for the parents and Tiger Rose for the children.
The candidates for her scandinavian name are:

"Tiger" translates to
tiger (swedish, norwegian and icelandic)
tiikeri (finnish)

"Stripes" translates to
ränder (swedish)
striper (norwegian)
rönd (icelandic)
raidat (finnish)

Given how much this kitten purrs, we thought of translating the word "Motor", which yielded the best choices in the finnish language:

For short, when she purrs contentedly in our laps, we sometimes call her Lili'uokalani, the name of the last Hawaiian queen, which is what comes to mind when trying to recall that last finnish entry for motor!

Check in with us in another month to find out what we're calling our kittens then!