It’s one of the jobs of our med staff to find names for incoming cats arriving into our care as anonymous kitties – and this is particularly a factor when we take in a colony of ferals. When they are very young and adoptable (like the kittens at the Shelter) the names of a litter may all begin with the same letter, or they may all have fruit names or some similar theme – we know that their adopters will probably rename them, so having the perfect name isn’t really an issue. But when they come to us as feral adults or adolescents, the names they are given are the names that they will probably carry most of their lives.
Last summer we took in a big group of semi-feral cats that were being fed by a well-meaning Richmond resident, who became overwhelmed when suddenly there were kittens everywhere. Leslie and Louise spent hours trapping cats, and our team of fosterers sprang into action. Moms and kittens went into fosterage, knowing that early handling was likely to produce more adoptable kittens. The adults and the adolescents came to the Sanctuary to be assessed, and likely to find a permanent home with us.
This was a big naming proposition! What names could they have that would link them together in some way? Leslie decided to go for the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods of mythology, and lists were generated.
The two big black males proved to be FIV+, as is common with feral males, who can share the virus when blood is exchanged in fighting. They were moved into the Val Jones area, with the most people-oriented FIV cats, and named Zeus, for the father of the Greek gods, and Pax (which is actually a Roman goddess’s name – though it doesn’t seem to worry him too much. Zeus, who proved to be very friendly, was adopted – FIV cats are good candidates for adoption as long as they are either alone or can get on with other cats. Pax is still with us. His distinctive pointed face and luxurious mane showed up in a number of the kittens that were adopted, and also in a few of the adolescents.
Pen 6 was turned over to this group. They were too old to be easily tamed – old enough to know that humans were scary things. Old Kiko, the only resident of Pen 6 to be left, occupied the cabin, while the young ones scattered to the many other hidey-holes we’d established. When the fall gardening took out all the vegetation that screened the pen, more screening was woven in to give them a sense of privacy. Through the fall and much of the winter we would see them early in the morning or late at night; they discovered the cabin heating and many of them moved in. With spring came new bravery and an increase in visits from staff and Kitty Comforters.
The most outgoing of the bunch is long-haired tortie Aphrodite – named for the goddess of love, and very lovable she is! She has been the bravest in daring to come forward and accept treats, and finally contact; she’s also probably the most photogenic of them all. Her short-haired tortie sister is Vesta (Roman goddess of hearth, home and family) and is much shyer; if the others are around, Vesta may come out, but she’s rarely seen alone. You’ll quite often see her with black short-haired Athena (goddess of wisdom) or twin black Atlas.
There are two long-haired black girls – probably sired by Pax. Nyx (goddess of night) and Juno (queen of the gods). At first sight they are identical, but Nyx’s eyes are yellower and Juno’s are green.
The shyest of all of them is Mercury (the messenger of the gods, but also the Roman patron of merchants and finance!). You can’t mistake him if you’re luck enough to see him – other than his colouring, he has a look of Pax about him, but he lacks his dad’s confidence.
We also have, from Kamloops, Freya and Odin (from the Norse mythology pantheon) and Loki, (the trickster god) who came to us separately. We don’t yet have one named for the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet – but there’s plenty of time, and many as-yet unnamed cats out there.
Blog by Brigid Coult