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Ostomy Memories on the Naming of Cats


“The naming of cats is a difficult matter,” wrote T. S. Eliot in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. “A cat,” he continued, “must have three different names.” First, there's the everyday family name. Then, there's a special, more dignified name, “a name that's particular” so that the cat can feel pride and “keep up his tail perpendicular.” Our four family cats are Blondie, Sweetie, Pipsqueak, and Bart. Those are their family names. But they are also known by more formal monikers: Fancy Pants, Sweet Matilda, Miz Mann, and Bartholomew. Now, lest we forget, Eliot said THREE names. But this third name, “that is the name that you never will guess… BUT THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.” I cannot help but wonder, in this context, what the cats call us. We refer to ourselves, in our ongoing conversations with them, as Grandma and Grandpa. It has occurred to me, however, in the face of Eliot's encomium, that they could well think of us otherwise. I can only hope that it is a positive reference.

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