The cat sat on the front steps of my friend Sarah’s house – a fluffy ball of gray, brown and white stoicism.
“Such a sweet kitty,” I said, rubbing its head, as we prepared to leave. “What’s its name?”
“His name is Rose,” said Sarah. “Yes, he’s a boy. Long story.”
Turns out Rose had turned up on their doorstep awhile ago and had already been given the flowery moniker before a veterinary visit revealed she was a he.
“Well, what’s his middle name?” I asked.
“He doesn’t have a middle name,” Sarah replied. “He’s just a cat.”
Sarah is a dear friend. A good friend. But at that moment our friendship teetered perilously on the abyss, the words “just a cat,” echoing in my ears. She couldn’t have shocked me more if she said she’d suddenly become an introverted night owl.
Fortunately, I’m easily distracted and temporarily put poor Rose out of my mind, until I checked my phone and noticed the picture I’d snapped of him. I posted the photo on Facebook, told his sad story and announced, “I’m going to call him Rose Henry and restore his shattered dignity.”
All of my cats have had middle names, unless you count Butterscotch, the ginger cat I had at age 3. My sister insists it was her cat, so the less we say about it the better. Also, Butterscotch came to a tragic end when my dad accidentally backed over her while on the way to work one morning.
If Butterscotch had had a middle name, perhaps she wouldn’t have met such an untimely demise. Middle names are important when communicating urgent matters, like, “Butterscotch Sundae do NOT sleep under that car!”
As our youngest son pointed out, “How will they know they’re in trouble if they don’t have a middle name?”
Samuel Kristian has had some experience with this.
Anyway, my next cat was christened Nicholas James (Nicky) and was followed by Brandy Michael. Brandy shows what should happen when you give a cat a girl name and then find out it’s a boy.
Our current cats are Milo James and Thor Hyerdahl.
Imagine my surprise when my campaign to restore Rose Henry’s dignity was met with resistance by Sarah’s husband, Terry.
His response to my suggested fix?
“Henry is not part of this cat’s name. His name is Rose.”
Sarah thought Rose Henry sounded rather regal, but when her husband continued to balk, she offered a compromise – Rose Jack.
Terry would not budge.
Nevertheless, the social media response weighed solidly, almost unanimously in favor of giving cats first and middle names.
Trish Gannon, owner/editor of the River Journal, wrote, “My granddaughter named one of my cats Snowy Snowflake Snow Gannon. Middle names are important.”
Terry was unswayed.
“His name is Rose. Cat names are not gender specific. Also roses are not gender specific.
Just to be clear, his name is Rose. There is nothing undignified about being named Rose. His having this name, by definition, dignifies it.”
To which I replied, “A Rose by any other name is Henry.”
Colleague Pia Hallenberg weighed in.
“He looks almost exactly like my old cat Felix Fittipaldi Hansen.”
Now that’s a great cat name.
Alas, Terry has proved unyieldingly adamant in opposition to my attempts to bolster Rose Henry’s dignity.
“Do not call my cat Rose Henry. That is not his name. His name is Rose. Just Rose,” he insists.
Well, OK. I mean, it is his cat after all. I am quite pleased that at least he finally seems to understand the importance of middle names. However, I must confess I think Just is a rather bizarre first name for a cat.
I liked Rose better.
Contact Cindy Hval at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com.