03 April 2015

Cats, Chameleons, & Other Critters

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE NAME GAME. Everything you'd want to know about naming characters.**

Not all characters are human. Sometimes your main character may have a furry little friend who pops up in your story, whether it’s in a big or a small role. Maybe your MC’s pet just cuddles up with her at night, or maybe it helps solve crimes. And unless you want your fictional pet to be a no-name slob, then he needs a name!

The great thing about pet names is that they don’t have to be your normal, average everyday names. You can name your pet something crazy and no one would think twice about it. In fact, naming your cat or dog something like Meghan, Paul, or Greg might get a raised eyebrow (although this is definitely an option, as well). You don’t have to limit yourself to the typical Spot or Fluffy, either. Think outside the box. You can name your pet after a TV or book character, your favorite food, or even an inanimate object. And while you probably wouldn’t name a human character based on their hair color, you can certainly name a cat or dog after their fur color(s).

SOME PET NAMES BASED ON FOOD: Butterscotch, Pickles, Oreo, Marshmallow, Pumpkin, Snickers, Nacho, Waffles, Biscuit, Meatball, Peanut, Cheddar, Ginger, Muffin, Peppermint. 

The name of your fictional pet can reflect the personality of the pet itself or of the character who owns it. If your dog is sweet, you could name it Sweetie. An intelligent pet could be named Einstein. If you have a sneaky cat, name it Sneakers. Or think about how this pet is reflective of its owner. How can you show your character’s personality through their pet’s name? A pet name is another great place to sneak in some symbolism. What is this pet representing? Why is it in the story at all? The name you choose for it could be representative of that.

WHAT I'VE DONE: We named our cat Gizmo because he reminded us of a Gremlin…but a cute one.

Think of a fictional pet’s name the way you would if you were actually naming your own pet. Remember this is a name that your character is going to have to use and possibly call out in public. What kind of attention will the name get from other people? Will it be a conversation starter that completely gets your plot going? Who knows? Remember that a pet can be an important character, too! It should have a name that fits. 

Have you ever put a pet in one of your stories? How have you come up with names for your own pets? Share your pets' names in the comments!


  1. I love animals, but I've not put any in my stories. I'm not sure why.

    Our cats have all been named after characters in cartoons - Calvin & Hobbes and Rocko & Spunky.

  2. I've never had a character with a pet, like Diane, don't know why. I like the tips here. I actually wanted to rename our newest dog to Gizmo because of his ears, but my wife was having none of it!

  3. A cat plays a HUGE part in my urban fantasy series! Her name is Serendipity, because her owner was looking for a cat for a friend when she found her. People in the story also call her Dippity and Dip.

  4. In the video game I'm playing, this woman told me a little boy was looking for his little sister Mia. It was his cat. lol

  5. Pickles...tee-hee. I like that! :P

    I love reading a book with a pet character. It's always more cute and funny when the pet makes an appearance. I've written about one character with a pet cat because the character is based after my mom and her cat. :)

  6. A pet's name can be just about anything. But it does still have to sound good in public.

  7. The great thing about pet names is that they can get corrupted and, I don't know about you, but my pets all have more than one name. My dog, Nemo has had his name corrupted through Nimmy-noes, to NooNoos as well. He takes it well :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    Wittegen Press

  8. Our cat who died recently was called Kika, which I think is a Japanese word for Princess'. I believe animals should have different names to humans - you don't sound so silly calling for them!

  9. Most of my stories have animals: cats, of course, then dogs and one has a horse. Loved naming them.

  10. I only have one pet in one of my stories, a cat named Phoenix. A friend had a hairless cat of the same name, but different spelling and I loved it as a cat name.

    PS: I you read Path of Angels Book 2 when it comes out, Sarah, you'll get to meet the cat. =)

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  11. There are several unnamed pets at this point in my novel. I like this idea of giving them names. We took a family vote on our new kitty and selected Ollie Opu (my son's girlfriends' choice). I like the way it rolls off the tongue.

  12. I've always found it interesting when people give seemingly human names to their pets.

  13. Emperor of my house is Nero, a jet black mini-schnauzer. Happy AtoZ!

  14. That last picture, I have the movie Tangled which is where it comes from, but right now I can't remember it's name. My first pet, a cat, was Timothy only then we discovered it was female so I changed it to Timolena, I wasn't very old at the time.

  15. Interesting theme! And good ideas for pet naming!

  16. When we got my first cat, she came from the Humane Society with the name Blackie. My sister (7 at the time) wanted to rename her Pikachu. My mom nixed that one, so Blackie stayed. When I was 14, Blackie died, and the shelter cat we adopted came with the name Cuddles. It was appropriate for her personality but none of us could take her seriously, so we named her Naomi.

  17. My parents hate when I name the cats because of my weird humor.
    They have a cat that holds its head sideways, so I call it Eileen.
    They have one that looks like it has an upside down heart on its face. Looks like a butt, so I call it butt face. :)

  18. Fantastic post! Excellent points.

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