Unique kitten names from Roman Antiquity that will steal your heart
Updated: Jul 6
Do you need an original name for your adorable furry friend? The Roman world is a treasure chest of ideas. From mythological figures to obscure philosophers, I have put together some inspirational tips for you to choose from.
First, you want to ask yourself what makes your cat special. Let’s look at your cat’s most adorable features:
(NB: all of these names are fitting for male and female cats. Where Latin makes a distinction between the two genders, I have given you both forms, but the limit really is your imagination!)
Gourmet cat names
Is your cat a food lover? You may find just the right name in the list below:
Musculus / Muscula: ‘little mouse’. If your cat is a good hunter, you may want to consider calling him or her by their favourite snack. If you are after something more compact, check out Glis, the name given by the Romans to dormice. Did you know that they considered sweetened dormice a delicacy?
Sardina: the first idea that comes to mind when we think of a cat is that of a ‘sardine’. It also makes a great name!
Sportula: this was a little basket given as a present with food and or money, often offered by a patron to his clients. And, really, who does not see their cat as a precious gift?
Mel: ‘honey’. If you are looking to keeping it short and sweet, look no further.
Names for cats that stand out for their fur:
If your cat draws attention because of their looks, you may want to choose a name that defines them:
Nox: ‘Night’ is a great option if you have a black cat. However, you can elaborate it a bit more and call them Ater/Atra ‘coal-black’, Carbo ‘coal’ or Furvus ‘gloomy-dark’.
Albulus / Albula: if your cat is ‘whitish’, this is a great name. For a tidier cat you could go for something a bit bolder, like Candidus / Candida ‘radiant’, Niveus / Nivea ‘snow-white’ or even Lacteus / Lactea ‘milky’ - I am sure your cat would approve!
Lana / Lanugo: ‘wool’ and ‘fluff’. This is the perfect double-edged name. It would work well both with a cat that is literally woolly and a cat that loves playing with wool. If you are a knitter and have a knitting assistant, this is the name for you!
Variatus / Variata: finally, if you have one of those cats that look like you have added up some other cats together, this is the perfect name. It means ‘diverse, varied’ and it could be applied to all sorts of combinations, like spotty cats, mixed fur cats,etc.
Names for cats that look like other animals
We all like to find features of other animals in our cats. I often see my cat as a sort of sloth.
How about you? Here are some examples to get you inspired:
Pica: if your cat boasts the classic magpie spotting, surely calling them ‘magpie’ is a great choice. It is also quite short and snappy!
Scomber: ‘mackerel’. This is a most fitting name for mackerel tabby cats. It is an evocatively yummy name for your cat!
Leo, Tigris: ‘lion’ and ‘tiger’ a quite standard feline names, but you can also go a bit further and call them Pardus, ‘panther’. Did you know that the panther was one of Bacchus, god of wine, sacred animals? This would be the perfect name for party lovers as well for those who own Bengal cats, which look extremely like the real thing!
Anubis: if your cat looks and acts a bit like a dog, why not go for a canid name? Anubis was an Egyptian god represented as a jackal. His role as protector of the dead and the Underworld is befitting for a cat, which is traditionally linked to witchcraft and the more obscure side of reality.
Names for intelligent cats
There is no doubt: cats are great thinkers and love sitting around books letting their thoughts take them on long journeys. Why not choose the name of a famous philosopher for your cat?
Lucretius: distinguished Epicurean philosopher, he wrote about the Nature of Things. What do you think is going through your cat’s mind as he sits there looking out of the window?
Portia: wife of Brutus (Caesar’s assassin!), she is one of the few known names of female Roman philosophers we have been left. I am not sure there are many Stoic cats out there, but it is still beautifully sounding and pretty unique!
Plutarch(us): this Greek-turned-Roman author would be the perfect namesake for literature loving cats.
No brainer cat names
If you want something meaningful and versatile, you cannot go wrong with any of the names below:
Cattus / Catta: literally, this means ‘cat’. Why not call your cat, Cat?
Feles: that is a great variation on the same theme, also meaning ‘cat’. The beautiful element here is that it also means ‘thief’ (not that all cats deserve the name!) and it has given us the general name for the feline family. If this was not enough, it is etymologically related to Felix, which is a great cat name in its own right if you are a traditionalist.
Caligatus: literally this means ‘wearing soldier’s boots’. This would be a terrific name not only for fans of Puss in Boots, but also for owners of cats that have a distinctive colour on their feet.
Names for cats that live like kings and goddesses
Bastet: Who is not mesmerised by this Egyptian cat-goddess? She looks over the home, women’s secrets, childbirth and fertility, and to top it all off she is also related to the Underworld. If you have a black cat, it would be difficult to find a more apt name!
Imperator or Dictator: let’s face it, in some households the one in charge is the cat. Calling them ‘emperor’ or even ‘dictator’ should not only be a funny way of dealing with it, but also a means to subvert the meaning of those infamous institutions.
Names for cats that shine for their personality
Some cats bring an adjective or noun to mind straightaway. Here are some of my favourites, but do have a go at a dictionary if you still have not found a name to suit your friend:
Otiosus / Otiosa or Desidiosus / Desidiosa: let us face it, many cats fall into this category! ‘Unoccupied’ and ‘indolent’ are quite apt names for cats on the lazy side of life.
Agilis: if, on the contrary, you are lucky and have a cat on the active side, ‘nimble’ will probably be quite fitting.
Ferus / Fera: ‘wild’ or ‘fierce’. Some cats are true masters of their own affairs. I particularly like Indomitus / Indomita, ‘untamed’.
Top tip: for a comprehensive list of adjective options, you can pore through this Wiktionary entry.
Triclinium or Lectus: these words mean ‘couch’ and ‘bed’. I guess no further explanation is needed here!
Names for cats of Classicists
If you have studied with the Cambridge Latin Course, or you have enjoyed a Latin GCSE or Latin A Level, you might want to keep a little memory of the happy times in your home. The words I suggest below may seem unconventional, but will bring you lots of fun and are most definitely unique:
Use one of the cases: Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, Ablative. Let your cat’s disposition guide you. Loud cat? Vocative. Cat that stays all day in the same place? Ablative. You get it!
Just give them a random Latin name that you love saying. For me, the winner would be Culina, ‘kitchen’. What would you choose?
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