Monday 8 November 2010

Pet names.

For a cat with a name as daft as Sgt Pepper, it’ll come as no surprise that she’s a pet with all manner of monikers. To P’s Dad, she’s ‘The Serge’ (which, when you take into account his broad scouse accent, is more like ‘desarrrge’). To my pet-cagey brother Jamie she’s ‘The Thing’; to my Dad she’s ‘That Cat’ and to us… well, I can only go into that if you promise not to disown me out of shame.

It’s two years to the week that we got Sgt Pepper and, as any pet owner will know, the difference she’s made to our lives is utterly astonishing. I can almost see you nodding in agreement there, but hang on… because we may not be talking about the same thing. I mean, obviously, she’s made a difference to our lives in that she’s completely lovely to have around, makes putting our key in the door a hugely exciting event and we simply can’t imagine a world without her in it… but that’s not what I’m getting at. I mean the other kind of difference she’s made to our lives – the difference in which we used to be self-respecting people with a reputable grasp of language and now find ourselves emptying pouches of Whiskas with the words ‘Dinner’s up, Mrs Bittenchops!’

Allow me to explain. Everyone’s got nicknames, right? Mine’s Mac, P’s is Whacker, Jamie’s is Arseface… and Sgt Pepper’s is Bitten. It’s simple enough to explain (I hope): see, as a kitten, she was a snappy little sod, scratching and biting to convey any kind of emotion from contentment to annoyance – thus ‘bitten by the kitten’ became an oft-used phrase, and Bitten became a natural nickname. So far, so reasonable. But of course it doesn’t stop there. Because, when you live in close proximity with anyone – be they human or animal – you end up calling them all kind of names other than that which they were given. Hence Bitten became Bit-bot became Mrs Bittenchops became (personal favourite) Bitten’s Mittens; just as Sgt Pepper became The Serge became Sergey Peps became Peppercorn became Pepster. Actually, that’s no explanation at all, is it?

And if you think that’s bad, perhaps you’d better stop reading now. Because our cat-craziness doesn’t just extend to ridiculous names, but also song lyrics. So, in the last week alone, I’ve been grooving in my kitchen to such classics as The Temper Trap’s Sweet Little Bitten, XTC’s Sgt Pep is Going To Help Me and We Built This Kitty (On Rock n Roll) by Starship. Add that to the reworded lyrics to The Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name (they call me Bitten / they call me Kitten / they call me Pepper / they call me Corn / that’s not my name… etc) and I expect you’re already half way to deleting me from your phonebook.

Despite my willingness to broadcast such unspeakables on my blog (you know me – less heart-on-my-sleeve as heart-tattooed-on-my-forehead), I haven’t sailed so far past self-awareness as to fail to be embarrassed by this stuff. Trust me, I can see its preposterousness in full technicolour. Because, don’t forget, up until two years ago, I was a pet-skeptic just like my brother (my brother whose eyes can’t fail to disguise that a little part of him has died since his sister became such a certifiable loon). I mean, heck, the last my family knew of me caring for an animal was Miss Ellie, the goldfish I used to stir around in its bowl with a wooden spoon when I was two. Watching me turn from pet-pessimist to cat owner left Jamie disappointed. Reading this post will have him considering sibling divorce. (Thank god I’ve got the cancer stuff to fall back on.)

I always imagined that people spoke to their pets the way they speak to children. You know, in that sing-song voice an octave higher than they’d normally employ, extending the final syllable so it lasts as long as the sentence preceding it. (‘Haven’t you growwwwwwn!’ ‘Aren’t you cleverrrrrrr!’) The thing is, though, I speak to kids the same way I speak to adults. I don’t reserve a special voice for them, I call them ‘mate’ and ‘dude’ and tell them how much their outfit compliments their hair colour. (Actually, that probably just raises the question of how appropriately I speak to adults.) So why the crazy baby-talk when it comes to Sgt Pepper?

I dare say that if there were a child in our household, they’d get the brunt of our idiocy, too. (I’m entertained by the way I’m continually using ‘our’ in this post, sharing the responsibility for my ridiculousness with a husband who has no right of pre-posting appeal.) Because, daft as it might look when written down in this way, I don’t think there’s any denying that pet names – provided they’re not of the fwuffy-bunny-wabbit kind – are just another way of showing familial affection. It’s a rare occasion when my family call each other by our real names, opting instead for anything from ‘doofus’, ‘stoopsticks’ and ‘shitface’ to Dave and Davetta (Mum and Dad) or Big Dave and Little Dave (Dad and Jamie). (NB, none of my family is called Dave.) And so I suppose it’s little surprise that a kid who grew up being called Lisa Mac Quack has ended up calling her cat Mrs Bittenchops.  

All that said, I still agree that it’s horrendous what cuteness can do to a person. Not least when they’ve had a drink. Because, of course, when there’s beer inside you, your self-check radar dwindles like a sparkler in the rain, as I discovered at the end of our fireworks party this weekend when I found myself telling my mates I was ‘just popping to check on Mittenface’. I s’pose I just ought to be thankful that I didn’t find myself referring to P as…  whoa, calm down! How mental do you think I am? Hell, Bitten’s Mittens is one thing – but even a loudmouth like me knows there are some things you should never admit…


Anonymous said...

As a student in Coventry in the mid 80's I had a lovely "ginger biscuit" cat called Tigger.
He was the most gorgeous cat ever - one day while looking at cards in Athena - there was this lovely postcard of a ginge just like him - and I remember shouting out to my house mate -
Look it's Tigger wigger woo!!

Not too embarrassing for a girl with massive bleached/crimped and backcombed hair!!

Also there was the song that began ' Dom - dom - tigger tiggeeerrrr!"

I love your posts! - keep entertaining us xx

Freda said...

Our little cairn terrier is called Misty, but she has never been Misty-wisty, though you will get a flavour of her character if I tell you she is called Little Madam. Worse with dogs is the way you teach them to come when called. It seemed sweet at first to yell "C'mon, c'mon'c'monooooon,,,,,, " when she was a puppy. Not so cute now that she is fully grown and people look askance. Thanks for your lively posts. I love that you have decided to move beyond The Bullshit. Here's to you and your life and your writing. Thanks for sharing so much with us.

Amy said...

Oh, the amount of pet names we have in our house for, pets.

We have two dogs. They are called Minstrel and Malteser (Hey, I was 13, don't judge me).

Minstrel gets called: Minnie, Smidge, Smudge, Smudger, Min, Mingle-Dingle, Mingle-Dingle-Doogley-Pops and dallin'.

Malteser gets called: Malty, Spot (he's a Dalmatian), Spotmonster, Spot-Rat, Jealous Jim and, when there's fireworks about, You Whiny Bastard.

And they respond to them all, which doesn't say anything good about us.

Fletcher of the Day said...

Freddy began as Bubbelah (beloved boy in Yiddish), evolved into bubby, and now is is Pebbles, as is Fletcher.

Pebbles, aka sunshine, is also often referred to as princess pebbles and pretty girl.

I grew up with dogs...NEVER imagined I would end up having (i.e. being obesessed with) cats...something my sister STILL finds hilarious (as we are both allergic). And it's true what they say: Cat's don't have owners, they have staff...

xx Lori

Unknown said...

We're currently a pet free home (well, if you exclude the 2 monsters - sorry, daughters!) And my youngest gets called Woo Woo by hubby - she loves it now at the age of 4 but I get the feeling that may change in 10 years.

Our eldest has decided to ask for a kitten for Christmas so the pet free status won't last for much longer!

Long Tall Ally said...

The queen of our house is a grumpy cat called Lily who gets called:

Lils, Fag Ash, Lilster, Lilypops, Popsicle, Lilypopina (that ones mine), Popalicious, and that damned cat.

When I was a kid we had a dog called Aries that my Mum insisted on calling Binbag. We'd be out walking and she'd be shouting 'BINBAG COME HERE'. Not quite as bad as my Stepmum who had a rat *ahem* I mean a terrier called Little Miss Muffet. She used to call out 'Muff! Muff! Where's my Muff!"

Hi-lar-ious! xx

Nicolettehh said...

Oh God, can't believe I'm doing this, but here goes...

Tamsin - gets called Fatcat, Old Girl.
Magic - gets called Madge, Magicool, Little Miss Twinkletoes.
Joey - gets called JoJo, Joey Tribbiani
Daisy - gets called Daisy-Doo and also has a theme tune, sung aka Scooby Doo (Daisy, Daisy-Doo, where are you? We got some work to do now.)

You can put me back in my padded room now.

Anonymous said...

Enter her on Bitten's Got Talent

Jude Core said...

I just saw you on twitter (i'm @judecore) what a great find!

I am embarrassed to admit the amount of pet names I give to my little dog. He's called Paddy but he gets "Puppa, Pupiti, Pupuchin, Padditi, Muppy, Mupper, Mupiti" and also from the spanish speaking friends family he gets "Pudi" or "Poody" or just "Poo" (which isn't rude in Spanish!)

He's on my frontpage here, he's is loved to pieces!

PS subscribing <3

Rhys Wilkins said...

My mother-in-law had a ginger tom cat called 'Minge'.

Mark said...

The first King Charles Spaniel the family had when I was a child was called William. A real sooky, soppy and daft old thing.I am still scarred by the memories of my dear old Mum calling for him, 'Where's Willy? Has anyone seen my Willy?'.

It always happened when my mates were around...


Tracy said...

saly I have no cat (I hate renting, when I do get one he will be known as Raspberry Watkins) my children bare the brunt of it instead.
Pudding, sausage, pumpkin..generally edible things but sometimes Mr Knees because children have lovely knees.

Lorn said...

I come from a mental family ('she's electric, she's got a family full of eccentrics' could have been written for my clan? so much so we don't even call EACHOTHER by our proper names.

My Nan called my Grandfather Charlie his whole life, even though he was christened John.My Dad calls my mum Lois, even though it isn't her name. My name is Lorna but my family call me Lucypops. Now this hasn't stopped despite being in my 30s, in fact my brother wrote it on a form for me once. Frst name, Lucy, Surname, Pops. And so there is no hope when it comes to pets.

My first dog was called Nif-Nif. But we called him Nif-Nak Paddy whack. The cat we had a college was called Foofanna.. spelt wrong but french for pussy I believe? so she become known a foof-fanny. I now have a chihuahua called Sidney... Sid-Vicous to my dad as he always growls at him, Sidders to my brothers, 'Little boy' to my mum, and sidderina to me, because he likes to tip toe around the house like a little Meer cant esqu ballerina... Sidderina, see what I did there?

Lisa, you are not alone. But AT LEAST we can blame 'the bullshit' for making us slowly become loons. As for you other lot of losers....


Anonymous said...

The *BIG* black lab cross is universally referred to as "Idiot Dog" because.... well... he's too stupid for words. Lovely, but stooopid. He's also answers to Stinky when he's been in the fields. He has a proper Sunday/registered at the vets name, but doesn't answer to it.

The other dog is called Fat Bob the Ginger Pup. She is fat, she is ginger, but no longer a pup and has never been a Bob as she's mostly a girl.

Very much enjoying your blog Mrs Lynch - keep it up!

canisrufus said...

Oh Lisa, key thing is to just surround yourself with equally crazy people!

In our household:
Pepper (dog, who never goes by Pepper): Juarez, Juarez Beast, PE Beast, Kindly Mrs. Wufferson, Girls (yes plural), Captain Grey Muzzle (when Milo Cat was still alive, he was the first mate as Swashbuckling Catz)

(Did I mention she is a cartel leader complete with back story??)

Shandy (newest addition, cat): Pouchy, Pouchy McPouch, Fatty (there's a pattern here).

Also, myself, my best friend, and her partner do the song thing too. Their dog (one of them) is named Grady, but is mostly called Turd. Turd's name gets inserted into ALL songs. Also, we make up songs about the animals too...

Certifiably crazy...

lilianavonk said...

Beezer's full name: Johanna Vachon Vanbiesbrat, a.k.a. La Beez, Her Irascibleness, Pretty Girl, and as I recently realised, Fifty Pounds of Cranky In A Ten-Pound Package.

Sophie's full name: Ace Fetisova Elly-May Edwige, a.k.a. ma belle Zophilu, tha BabyG, Little Big Eyes, mah wittle wooby, da Pooks...and you know how much I like you if I'm calling you the same term of endearment I use with Sophie! :)

MOT's full name: Mr. "Oreo" Tennant, a.k.a. El Emmo, Grandpa Munster, Mr. Velvet Head, King Mooch, Big Guy, Little Pink Nose.

Fergus is the newest addition and has already been dubbed Little Fellow, Bubbeleh (like Freddy!) and The Ferginator.

Honestly, though, after a few years of being owned by a cat, I stopped being self-conscious about this stuph. As I was commenting to my sister last night, having cats has made me a much better person...and perhaps not giving a shit about what other folks think about my rampant Crazy-Cat-Lady-dom is part of that package. :)

Claire said...

I love a good pet name we have two cats - first there's Lily who is Lily Lou Lou Bear and then there's Rossi who's always known as Rosburger !! Why shorten the name when you can make it twice as long and sound like a complete nutter when you are calling in the back garden !!
Love the posts Lisa - keep them coming !

swisslet said...

Our cat is called "minou chat". It's French for pussy cat. Yes, we called our cat "cat". Not that we call her that, obviously: cutey krapopkin, general minouchay, Herr general, k-pops, purrkin, mistress minoukins... We serenade her with songs ("hey minou your so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind. Hey minou!" Etc). We sang to her and sent her postcards when we spent 9 months travelling and she lived at my parents' house. We gave her extensive titles in French. She's minou chat de chat du chat de Pontford d'oeust de la tisrondier.
I'm 36 years old. I'm a sensible person, I think, but besotted with my cat. I listen proudly from my bed on a Sunday morning as she shows her foufou to passing strangers and glow with pride as they coo over how pretty she is.
I'm helpless before her and she knows it.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

Oh I can so I have a cat called Tittens. Now let me elaborate..she came from the pound and her original handle was (wait for it..) Little Miss Electra. So now Tittens is a vast improvement wouldn't you agree? Oh and she is a nasty little sod too..maybe her and Bittens are related? They have that whole name rhyming thing going on LOL.

Anonymous said...

I don't have pets...but my 2 kids have pet names! Think that may be even worse, especially when I call them it out in public!!

Louisa - loubs, scoobs, scooby doo, Lily loulou, Lilipops & popsicle. (she is 13 - and apparently I am so not cool for using pet names)

Joseph - Dude, dudester, Fish, Mr Fish, Lil'man & bubba. (ok so he is 5 and I can still get away with this!)

Earlier this year when we were in Florida an American lady actually asked me if my son was called 'Dude' - I rarely calll him by his name oops!!!


Fen said...

ha ha ha you're all a fine bunch of weirdos! Love it.

My black & white cat - Tamika gets Moo, Meeky Moo, Wackers, Crackers, Muzz, Mousse Oh. And I always shout out to her if she's not waiting at the door for me when I get home!

Anonymous said...

oh dear god. Well if you guys have come clean I may as well too.

Bailey was also known as Bailey boo,
hahboo, hahbooby, booby, bu, bay-leaf, The Boy.

My 18 yr old, Daisy (who I have had since I was 7!) full title is Miss Daisy May or Maisy, Daze, Madam or lady.

And the newest edition Bishop is aka Hahbish, Bish, Biiiiiiiiishop, Lil' Bish. And my boyf and I often sing to him(in the theme tune to spider pig song that Homer sings on the Simpson's) 'Little Bish, Little Bish, doing what ever a Little Bish does'. And more recently we have got all seasonal and starting singing 'Merry Bishmas,Merry Bishmas'

Can't believe I'm sitting at work admitting to this!Good to know that I am not alone tho.
I think you could start a whole new blog about this Lisa, SillyPetNamesAnonymous.

Anonymous said...

oh dear god. Well if you guys have come clean I may as well too.

Bailey was also known as Bailey boo,
hahboo, hahbooby, booby, bu, bay-leaf, The Boy.

My 18 yr old, Daisy (who I have had since I was 7!) full title is Miss Daisy May or Maisy, Daze, Madam or lady.

And the newest edition Bishop is aka Hahbish, Bish, Biiiiiiiiishop, Lil' Bish. And my boyf and I often sing to him(in the theme tune to spider pig song that Homer sings on the Simpson's) 'Little Bish, Little Bish, doing what ever a Little Bish does'. And more recently we have got all seasonal and starting singing 'Merry Bishmas,Merry Bishmas'

Can't believe I'm sitting at work admitting to this!Good to know that I am not alone tho.
I think you could start a whole new blog about this Lisa, SillyPetNamesAnonymous.

jenheffa said...

My cat's name is karrie - a perfectly normal and respectable name. She's never called this. As she's a tortieshell and is sometimes rather badly behaved she's become 'naughty tortie' but her must usual moniker is 'Pookie' which naturally has become 'pookie pie' and 'the pookster'... or if I'm feeling particularly street, 'da pookster'.

Once I was lying on my front on the sofa and she went to sleep on my back. This inspired the song (to the tune of Monster by The Automatic) "what's that sitting on jenny's back? is it a pookster? yes, it's the pookster"

I am 35.

Sharon said...

Brilliant post - you could be talking about me and my boyfriend!

We have a cat called Mitzie (we didn't name her - she used to belong to boyfriend's mum).

She went to be called Mitzie-Moo, to Moo-cat, to Moops (which sounds liked Moobs to anyone else).

Boyfriend started calling her Catsicle occasionally, often turned into Mitzicles (which then led to a regrettable spell of calling her Testicles). And finally, She’s A Big Girl (she isn't fat, she is just a huge cat!).

As I've mentioned to you on Twitter, she does comes running to us when we whistle the Mork and Mindy theme tune (rather embarassing to whistle out the front door - the neighbours must think we are mad).

Oh and finally, after one incident (luckily confined to the litter tray), we have also started calling her... Poop sack.

I can't believe I just admitted to all of that. At least we're not alone!

Long Tall Ally said...

I caught myself calling Lily our cat (mentioned above way near the top) 'Schnookiepooples' last night.

I expect the men in white coats are on their way.

Diana Parkhouse said...

This is wonderful!

Pussle, who started out life as 'Fudge' - Pussle-Wussle, Pussle-Wussle-McGowie, McGowie, McGow, Bitchface, Slut.

Millie - Princess Millie, Ginger-Ninja, Fatty Boombatty

Monkey, who started life out as 'Daisy' - Monkey-Rabbit, Rabbit, Poppet, Cow, Slag, Bitch.

Junior - Man-Kitten, Kitten, Kittenage, Homme Chaton, Manly, Little Man Kitten, Prince.

We sing 'All the single kittens, All the single kittens, Put your paws up'. And I also sing along to the Spider Pig song, with 'Man-Kitten, Man-Kitten, Does whatever a Man-Kitten does. Can he swing, from a web? Probably, because he's a Man-Kitten'.

There is more, but I shall stop now.

Unknown said...

ha love this post thanks for sharing xxx

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Sophie, Liverpool said...

I'm a bit (lot) late replying to this...but our cat is called Hermione (full name: Hermione Jasmine Allen Estate [that's right, off The Bill] Grainger), a.k.a, Hermy, Hermy-cat, Hermy-Wormy, The Hermster, Cat face, Hermywoowoo, Hermy Wormy Pudding and Pie, The Herm-mobile, Ah-Herm (as in clearing ones throat), Hermintrude, Herm.I.One, Little cat, Hermple, Little Hermy Cat. I'm sure there's plenty more but I all herm-ed out for now. We (I) also sing the 'spider pig' song, and since I'm sure it's her particular favourite, I sometimes treat her to a rendition of 'Hermy, cross the Mersey...'.