Deciding on a name for your newly adopted cat is an exciting endeavor. However, what happens when you bring home a cat that already has a name? Animal shelters often assign names to the pets they rescue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change it. In fact, most animal advocates agree that it’s perfectly fine to change an adopted cat’s name. Here’s what you need to know.
Do Cats Even Know Their Names?
Choosing the perfect name for your cat may involve hours of deliberation, but have you ever wondered if your cat actually recognizes their name? While it’s hard to know for sure, a 2019 study suggests that cats probably do recognize their names as words referring to themselves. This study observed 78 cats in various living conditions and found that they responded to their own names more than random words. However, some researchers believe that cats may respond to their names because they associate them with things like food, playtime, or attention. Regardless, the name you choose for your cat is important in building a strong relationship from the start.
Is It a Good Idea to Change an Adopted Cat’s Name?
When you adopt a cat from a shelter, the name given to them is not meant to be permanent. Most shelters expect new owners to change the cat’s name, and it’s generally understood. However, before you decide to keep your cat’s given name or give them something new, there are a few things to consider.
It Could Be a Much-Needed Fresh Start
Every cat that ends up in a shelter has had a rough past, whether it’s due to neglect, abandonment, or other unfortunate circumstances. Adopting a cat is their chance at a fresh start, and changing their name can help signify that important transition. By giving them a new name, you allow them to leave behind any negative associations attached to their old name and embrace their new life with you.
Prioritize Your Relationship
Sometimes, you may find yourself falling in love with a cat that has a name you’re not particularly fond of. If saying your cat’s name brings back unpleasant memories or simply doesn’t feel like a good fit, it’s completely justified to change it. Your relationship with your new pet should start on a positive note, and a name change can help foster that bond.
Consider Your Cat’s Age
The age of your adopted cat can also influence your decision to change their name. If you’re adopting a kitten younger than six months, they haven’t had enough time to learn their name, making it easier to introduce a new one. On the other hand, if you’re adopting a young cat older than six months, they may have already associated their given name with themselves. However, cats at this age are typically more accepting of change. As cats reach middle age or become seniors, changing their name becomes more challenging due to their established habits. While it’s not impossible, it requires patience and positive reinforcement.
When Shouldn’t You Rename an Adopted Cat?
In some cases, your cat’s previous name may offer them a sense of comfort and familiarity, especially if they’re showing signs of extreme anxiety or fear. Attempting to train them to respond to a new name in these situations might be overwhelming. However, such cases are rare, and in most situations, a new name won’t have a significant impact on your cat’s day-to-day life.
Tips To Change Your Cat’s Name
If you’ve decided to change your adopted cat’s name, here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition:
- Change Your Cat’s Name Right Away: To avoid confusion, start using their new name from the beginning of your relationship.
- Start With a Hyphenation: If your cat already knows their old name, you can introduce the new name by hyphenating it with the old name. Gradually phase out the old name after a week or two.
- Use Positive Reinforcement: Offer treats, praise, and pets every time you use the new name to create a positive association.
- Have Realistic Expectations: Cats do what they want, and they may not always respond to their new name immediately. Keep using their name consistently, and they will eventually come around.
Changing your adopted cat’s name can be a meaningful way to start a fresh chapter in their life. Remember, the most important thing is to build a strong and loving relationship with your feline companion. So, go ahead and choose a name that feels right for both of you.
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