I have a cat. Yes, I have a cat. (And no, you jokesters, no comments referring to “pussy”. Believe me, I’ve already considered the hilarious joke potential.) She’s been living with me since April 1, 2000. Her name is Shana (yes, her real name) (and no, I didn’t name her) (but yes, I like the name, because it means “pretty” in Yiddish).
Before I even met her, I promised myself that I would not call her anything other than her real name or maybe a slight variation on it. I figured that, because she was to be my “pet”, I could give her one or two “pet names”, such as the extremely creative “Shay” or the Yiddish diminutive, “Shanala”. Little did I know that within a month or two I would be breaking that promise. And that after two years, all vestiges of that promise would be long gone.
Now I rarely, if ever, call her by her real name. The following are two lists of names that I not only use, but to which she will respond (on the days she actually pays attention to a word I’m saying or wakes up long enough to let me know she’s still alive):

Names Based on “Shana”

  • Pretty
  • Shay
  • Shanala
  • Shorna (OK, already we’re deviating) (this is what the dog calls her … but that’s another whole story)
  • Shorma
  • Scorna
  • Scorns
  • Scornmew
  • Shornmew

Names Completely Removed from “Shana”

  • Honeymew
  • Mewy
  • Kitten from Kapitten
  • Mewy from Kapewy
  • Mewy Mewstein (pronounced steen, not stine)

I am not proud of this. I should be forced to eat one can of cat food (and not the good stuff, like Sheba®) every time I use a name from the first list. And every time I use a name from the second, I should be forced to consume the contents of her litter box.
I just can’t believe this has happened to me. Me. Me, of all people. What the hell went wrong? When did I turn into Shana’s “Mom-mew”?
(Shana refused to be interviewed for this post. When asked to comment, she did deign to turn my way, but only offered a perfunctory baleful look and a rather pointed “Fuck mew.”)