Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cleo and Leo

So it seems people were quite taken with my recent story of the two kittens, two of many that have invaded my mother’s barn.

What has or will become of them? One friend practically begged to adopt them. She even promised I could visit them whenever I wanted.


I guess I did not make myself clear. Those babies are mine. I’m smitten. I don’t think I could part with them. I get like this. This is why I’m afraid to foster any animal.

That said, I have in the meantime been discussing possible names with my mother. I even got some input from friends…cat people all of them. Here are some ideas we came up with, some mine, some from others:

Cumulous and Nimbus or Stratus
Flora and Fauna
Antony and Cleopatra
Maximus and Persephone
Halle and Barry

My mother and I liked Halle for the tiny female but Barry just didn’t sit right for the male. And a name has to sit right or I’ll never us it.

Actually, I almost never use the name I pick anyway so you could ask, What’s the diff?

You see, my favorite cat (yes, I know you should not say that but it’s true), was originally named Muffin. I rarely called him that. I call him The Doots, a giant-pawed Maine Coon rescued a dozen years ago from a frigidly cold parking lot near a freeway on-ramp. Muffin was an attempt at a “normal” name, which sounded better than Ragamuffin, which is what he looked like at first. But that just seemed wrong, as it conjured images of a dirty little street cat urchin.

But Muffin was just too, too cute. And too common. One day I decided to call him Doots because it reflected the sounds he made when he “talked.” I learned that Maine Coons, which he surely is, like to talk. These are not long mmmeeeeoooooowwwwwwww’s. They are more like purr-meows that are short, staccato repetitive utterances, almost like cat barks. Often he’d do it just walking around as a person might be heard whistling strolling down a street: Doot doot-doot doot-doot doot!

I could have called it a “toot” but I heard it as “doot.” So I dubbed him “The Doots.” It took many years to officially change his name at the vet’s office for the record. They did not laugh. I’m sure they have heard stranger names. But The Doots is another story, one I’ll tell eventually.

Another cat, Mr. Kitty Man (genius, I know), is really “The Bird” or some derivation thereof (Derd, Nerd, Werd, Birdy) because as a youngster he sat looking out the window imitating the birds, practically chirping with them in unison.

But this is not unique. Most animal lovers know how personal a name is. It’s partly about reflecting how you feel about your pet, as well as how you feel saying the name.

While I loved the idea of the clouds (cumulous, nimbus) for the kittens, because they are varying shades of gray, those names weren’t rolling off the tongue so easily.

Then, just as I thought I could live with Cleo (which I first thought of as short for Cleopatra but didn’t like Antony or Cesar) and Leo (which could conjure up Leo the Lion, a big feline), my mother suddenly informed me that the bigger kitten, which she originally thought was a girl, and later decided was a boy, which is how I finally adjusted to thinking of him, was back again to being a girl.

This really upset my sense of him/her and of course the whole name thing. But within a day or so, she was back deciding he was a boy. So we are back to Leo.

Cleo and Leo just seem to fit. The names are short, kind of cute, and while it doesn’t feel natural just yet, that’ll come. Besides, it’s better than “kitty” and “kitty” as they have been known, and together as “The Kitties.”

Meanwhile, Cleo and Leo are growing nicely, sneezing less and getting stronger. Cleo, who is somewhat placid, as if she’s putting up with me when I hold and cuddle her, shows more enthusiasm leaping to the top of this scratching post as I tease her with a string — “The String” being the most excellent toy ever and at a cost of nothing. They also like to run and dive bomb each other. Leo, who is more of a love and cries as he seeks me out to sleep on my lap, has a stronger personality, more facial expressions. I swear.

So Cleo and Leo it is.

I think.

At least for the record.

NOTE: To clarify, Cleo and Leo are living at my mom's house, in a warm breezeway and get run-of-the-house time every evening. I see them several times a week. For now.


Cindy L said...

They are precious, and I love the names. In fact, you are bringing back memories. Cleo and Leo were my twin goldfish, when I was a wee one.

Only the Half of It said...

They are precious. I guess I'm not so original when it comes to names. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Romulus & Remus?
Dick & Jane?
Adam & Eve?
Or Adam & Evil if one's very naughty?
Amy & Isabelle?
Blue & Grey? (my Southern roots are showing)
Barnum & Bailey?
OK I"ll quit now.
Time to have some
Cereal & Milk

Only the Half of It said...

Adam and Evil! Hahaha. Although the little devil is the boy (but not really).
Like Romulous and Remus if both were boys...
LOVE Blue and Gray!!! (Is it Gray or Grey??)
Hmmmm.... If Cleo and Leo are not sticking, I could live with those!

Davezilla said...

It's only spelled grey if you're:
1) A Brit
2) A Canadian
3) A pretentious American

Only the Half of It said...

Pretentious Brits and Brit-wannabees, with their barristers, chemists and theatres. Analyse this!

Actually, I did read that -- gray vs grey -- when writing this. I think gray with an "a" looks prettier as a word anyway.

monica said...

Heee I know what you mean about calling the cat a different name than it's given one, Bobs old cat was Sylvia but he said he called her Stupid (she was also a big Maine Coon).

How about Hobo and Matilda (the name for a hobo's napsack)?

Only the Half of It said...

You and your hobo-chic, Monica! I knew a guy who named his cat *kissing sound*!