I read with interest recently that the Cambridge household – that would be William, heir to the British throne, his wife, Catherine, and their three children, George, Charlotte and whatsisname – have a new addition to their family: a dog called Orla.
Prior to her royal elevation, Orla’s home was a suburb of south Co Dublin, where she lived with her parents, Brian and Edel, and two younger sisters, Caoimhe and Róisín. Hers was a happy, sporty childhood – there was nothing she liked more than chasing around a wet camogie pitch with stick and ball. A sweet and enthusiastic youngster, she could be a little flatulent on movie nights, but it was easy to forgive her with those liquid brown eyes and glossy tresses.
She may well have ended up in veterinary in UCD if it hadn’t have been for the unfortunate incident with the Jägermeister, the missing Ugg boot and the well-chewed Ikea fairy lights. (Who knew there was that much voltage in a string of ambient balls, eh?)
This theory is either entirely true or utterly baseless, but it's impressive nonetheless that someone, somewhere, is working to ascertain why people call their cats Patrick
Apparently the Cambridges have also got a budgerigar named Breda and are hoping to house a guinea pig named Gráinne. (Oh no, sorry, I’m making that up too.)
Seriously though, a spaniel called Orla?
The trend of giving pets human monikers has, I read, been linked to people leaving it later in their lives to procreate. This theory is either entirely true or utterly baseless, but it’s impressive nonetheless that someone, somewhere, is working to ascertain why people call their cats Patrick.
As previously divulged in this column, I regularly walk the beach, not so much for the exercise but for the amusement of listening to dog owners admonish recalcitrant Labradors named Lavinia for rolling around in the carcasses of dead seagulls. “Lavinia! Straight home and into the shower, Lavinia!”
On the subject of names – of the human variety, that is – I’ve witnessed several little girls called Charlie throwing tantrums in the frozen-food section, numerous little Bobbies whizzing around the aisles wearing Heelys and tutus, and a plethora of little Georgies spooning babyccinos into their resolute mouths while their mothers text furiously on their iPhones. But how come I’ve yet to encounter little boys called Lottie or Ella strutting their stuff around the playground in their SpongeBob shirts?
A cat called Molly
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, naming fur babies. I’m certainly not immune from anthropomorphising my own moggies. Our pet cat for nearly two decades was called Holly. After she died last year, we drove to Donegal to collect a new kitten, who we promptly named Molly. If I outlive this one, I’ll probably call the next one Polly. It’s all in the “olly”, the default shape my mouth makes when I’m ladling ever-so-meaty gloop into a pink plastic feeding dish.
The new cat is bolshie and opinionated and, despite an otherwise apparently fearless disposition, has a pathological aversion to tinfoil.
My sister, a cat lover who lives near a railway line, was recently adopted by a muscular male cat, a sleek black stray who, in Holly Golightly-esque fashion, she named Boy - because that’s what he is.#
Life was going swimmingly for Boy: he had gloop, attention, and a comfortable bed, which he deigned to share with a human
Sterling attempts to locate Boy’s owner came to nothing, so finally my sister took him to the vet, had him spayed and brought him home again. Boy happily unpacked his whiskers and put his paws up, much to the chagrin of the other feline in the house, a peevish pussy called Squeak (who sports one and a half ears).
Life was going swimmingly for Boy: he had gloop, attention, and a comfortable bed, which he deigned to share with a human. His long letters of supplication to Squeak, hoping to win her affections, fell, however, on deaf and mutilated ears.
Nevertheless, the two cats settled into a workable state of socially distant hostility – until, that is, Boy’s curiosity led him to investigate empty packing boxes in an open van parked outside a neighbouring house and he ended up being driven 30 kilometres into the countryside, where he was seen absconding from the box into the surrounding fields.
Deflation reigned in my sister’s house. Even Squeak squeaked mournfully. Long days passed. Vets and catteries were phoned, social media alerted. When, in another county, a hungry Boy slunk into someone’s kitchen to nose around in another cat’s dish, the connection was made. He was promptly reunited with his adoptive family.
“Guess who just got back today?” my sister said on the phone, as the feted Boy recovered on his spacious bed,
“The Boy is back in town?” I guessed.
“Yes,” she replied, “the Boy is back, the Boy is back in town.”