Cartoon-cat fame-naming your cat

From my 8/15 posting “Fame-naming and family history”:

My intention was to get on with Cats 4, about naming cats for / after famous cats — in particular, famous fictional cats; in further particular, cats in cartoons and comics. If I name my cat Stallone (after the actor) or Rocky (after the fictional pugilist), I’m fame-naming a cat; if I name my cat Cheshire (from Alice in Wonderland) or Pyewacket (from the Salem witch trials and then various films, for example the wonderful Bell, Book and Candle (1958)), I’m cat-fame-naming my cat; if I name my cat Garfield or Sylvester, I’m cartoon-cat-fame-naming my cat. This is intricate, but pretty straightforward. And the topic of Cats 4 will in fact be the cartoon-cat-fame-naming of cats.

This is Cats 4. Where you could, if you were so moved, name your cat Garfield:

(#1) A lined notebook / journal for cat lovers (available via Amazon)

Or, for the most venerable cartoon cat name around, going back to the 19th century, you could call your cat Felix:

(#2) So many versions of Felix have been floating around, in comic books and in animated cartoons for many different studios, and then played with by independent artists, that it’s not always clear who owns the rights to which images

(Felix is an especially, um, felicitous name for a cat — combining Latin fēlix ‘happy’ with fēlēs / fēlis ‘cat’ (an alternative to cattus). If your name is Felix, then you’re surely a happy cat.)

Since Felix is more or less the ur-name for cartoon cats, we can use it to improve on the ponderous term cartoon-cat-fame-naming: why don’t we just call it felixing?

Alternatives to Felix (and Garfield) for felixing: you could use one of these four cartoon cat names from my 7/26/22 posting “O tasty Tweety! O Tweety, my prey!”:

(#3) Stimpy (Ren & Stimpy tv animation), Sylvester (Looney Tunes film animation), Catbert (Dilbert strip), Attila (Mother Goose and Grimm strip)

This posting is about felixings, so later I’ll post a small avalanche of them. (Famous cats in fable, literature, etc. pretty much all get used sooner or later as characters in animated stories, so almost any famous cat has become a cartoon cat, ripe to be felixed.)

Previously on this blog. From my 8/7 posting “No-name cats, cats of dubious art, monstrous cats”, alias:

Cats 3: Cats Ripped My Flesh. The previous installments were about the names people choose, or might choose, for their cats:

— Cats 1, my 8/4/22 posting “The Complete Book of Cat Names”, about Bob Eckstein’s new book, with lots and lots of names, arranged in entertaining categories, plus of course Bob’s own cat drawings and cat cartoons

— Cats 2, my 8/5/22 posting “Cats, names, art”, with the names (Russian, Sanskrit, Estonian) of my cats; with Bob’s musings on Roman names for cats, with a side trip to Egypt, and his own cartoon art; and with the Swiss-thread poster by graphic artist Donald Brun depicting Silken Cat.

Earlier (on 7/26), in what I guess I’ll have to call Cats 0, “O tasty Tweety! O Tweety, my prey!”, I looked at a few familiar cartoon cats — all with names, of course — casting a side glance, in the cat Sylvester’s comic attempts to capture and devour the canary Tweety, at the predatory and destructive aspect of cats, including the little Felis catus, which dispatches billions of birds and small mammals.

Meanwhile, on Facebook (on 8/5), cinephile Tim Evanson explored the dark side of cats in pop-cultural art: murderous cats, cats en masse, cats without names, cats in badly made movies. All of these together in Night of a Thousand Cats.

Bob Eckstein’s book is full of delights, but it lacks felixings. So does Garfield’s Book of Cat Names by Jim Davis (2005; 1st ed. 1988):

(#4) Pretty thin stuff, smart-ass tone — written in Garfield’s persona

The publisher’s ad copy, presumably written by Davis himself:

Is Your Cat Cowering Behind A Silly Name? Garfield Has The Answer!
Muffin. Kitty. Snowball. All stupid names that no self-respecting cat would have — if it weren’t for the stupid human who gave it to him! Now Garfield has the definitive guide to giving your cat a proper name that he won’t be ashamed to be called by his buddies in the finest back alleys of America. Unisex Names, Old Buddies’ Names, Former Girlfriends’ Names, Ordinary People’s Names Suitable for Cat Use, and the dreaded Names to Avoid. So start reading — and find the right name for your fabulous feline!

But then, from the Ferplast blog (all about pets, from an Italian company selling pet accessories), “Famous cat names to give your kitten”, a posting of 9/30/20:

What name can I give the cat? Finding the perfect cat name is very important and often just as difficult. Why not get inspired by the names of famous cats? Felines from comics, cartoons, films, politics and literature. Here are our suggestions!

Deciding to opt for a name of a famous cat is not synonymous with little creativity and originality. Choosing a name of cats that may have been the protagonists of childhood books or films or that remind us of someone we always saw on TV is an excellent starting point to find the ideal name to give to an equally special animal.

What’s going on here? The Ferplast blog freely offers felixings, with images from the sources — as did I above, with my 6 initial felixings. But the Eckstein and Davis books lack them. Study this Garfield cartoon for a hint:

(#5) A meta-cartoon, in which the characters show that they know they’re characters in a comic strip — in which case, there’s a question of whether a fat lazy cat named Grafield would impinge on the syndicator’s copyright (another fat lazy cat named Garfield unquestionably would)

The crucial difference between Eckstein and Davis, on the one hand, and Ferplast and Zwicky, on the other, is that the former are books, the latter blogs, and copyright owners tend to come down hard in protecting their publication rights. The net is packed with lists of famous cats in cartoons, many with images from tv and movies and games; but using such material in a book requires that you get permission (which might well be denied), and then pay a hefty fee for use (since it’s being used to earn money). Lawyers seem to be quite edgy even about quotation of text, even such a short text as a character’s name: you can certainly use a cartoon character’s name in a book (in discussing that character), but there’s apparently some question about whether it’s kosher to discuss the name itself. If the name can be viewed as the property of some powerful and self-protective entity (like the Disney Corp.), then lawyers will be wary about such discussions. (I’m not trained in legal matters at all, only reporting on my understanding of things, informed in part by difficult times in trying to use material from the comics in books.)

Après moi, l’avalanche. First, from a “Top 18 Felines in Cartoon Television” list (the domain has been expanded from (domestic) cats to felines (including all the “big cats”: lions, tigers, panthers, etc.):

Garfield, Scratchy and Snowball (The Simpsons), Tom Cat / Tom (The Tom and Jerry Show), Sylvester, Felix, Top Cat, the Pink Panther, the ThunderCats, Cat (CatDog), Fluffy (Rugrats), Cringer / Battle Cat (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe), Stimpy, Mr. Kitty (South Park), Talking Cat (Rick and Morty), Princess Carolyn (Bojack Horseman), Thubarian Leader (Futurama), Mr. Business (Bob’s Burgers)

Then a much longer list pulled together from many sources, a few names here, a few names there:

the Cheshire Cat (Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, various animations), Puss in Boots (Italian fairy tale, various animations), Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Kovu, Vitani, Zira, Nuka (Lion King), Figaro (Pinocchio & Figaro shorts), Marie, Duchess, Berlioz, Toulouse, Thomas O’Malley (The Aristocats), Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes), Bagheera, Shere Khan (Kipling’s Jungle Book, various animations), Meowth (Pokemon), Simon’s Cat, Lucifer (Disney’s Cinderella), Alex (Madagascar), Sgt. Tibbs (101 Dalmatians), Nermal (Garfield), Clawhauser and Leodore Lionheart, Manchas (Zootopia), Luna, Artemis, Diana (Sailor Moon), Snagglepuss (Hanna Barbera), Tony the Tiger (Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot), Azrael (Smurfs), Si, Am (Lady and the Tramp), Mr. Jinks (Hanna Barbera), Sagwa (children’s book by Amy Tan, animated series), Heathcliff, Salem Saberhagen (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Mao Mao, Pete the Cat, Hello Kitty and Chococat (Sanrio), Cake the Cat (Adventure Time), Arlene (Garfield), Happy the Exceed (Fairy Tail), Pete Puma (Looney Toons), Bill the Cat (Bloom County), Klondike Kat, Sebastian (Josie and the Pussycats), Bucky Katt (Get Fuzzy)

To which I can add the cat names in the webcomic Breaking Cat News (by Georgia Dunn), as examined in my 8/10/14 posting “The news for cats”:

The conceit: The strip shows bulletins from Cat News, a program by and for cats — in particular, the three cats of Dunn’s household (Lupin, Puck, and Elvis). [AZ: the ensemble of cats has changed over the 8 years since this posting] The cats view everything from their point of view, and the views of the humans in the household (known to the cats only as The Woman and The Man) are either irrelevant or inscrutable.

Some good chances for felixing here. If I were putting this stuff in a book of recommendations, of course, I’d pare the lists down a lot. (We could pass the book around as samizdat material.)

2 Responses to “Cartoon-cat fame-naming your cat”

  1. Mitch4 Says:

    Where in your classification would we find cats named after cats famous from advertising? My cat Mo was called Morris by the people who found him and brought him into our rescue agency’s adoption program, after a supposed resemblance to the Morris who appeared in advertising for 9-Lives cat food. I didn’t want the advertising connection, and shortened his name.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Morris is either a fictional cat played by a real cat, or the real cat that acted in the commercials. A fictional cat or a real cat can be famous, and you can name your pet after it; that’s just fame-naming. But that famous cat isn’t a famous *cartoon* cat, and it’s cartoon cats that I’m talking about as the models for pet naming.

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