Friday, November 9, 2012

Kitten Has a Name

He may seem blasé, but we are pleased and relieved that the kitten finally has a name: Harris, with Harry for a nickname. (He will have many outlandish nicknames invented for him, but it's nice to start simply.) 

My husband and I always liked the name "Harry" and more important, the kitten looks like a Harry. He is also named in honor of the first kitten I had as an adult, Harris Winfield, a gray tabby who moved with me to Boston after college and was reportedly abducted on Exeter Street, where I'd foolishly/ignorantly/stupidly let him wander, when he was about 8 months old. (He'd lived with me in a house in the woods before we came to Boston; in those days, I barely knew indoor cats existed. After losing him, I learned quickly.)

I initially thought our Harry was Italian because he enjoys arias, but Possum pointed out, patiently, that all nationalities respond to Puccini. 

Did I mention that the kitten is now Possum's kitten? Possy is brother, tutor, babysitter, and role model in one. He is proud and somewhat harried (pun intended) to have all this responsibility and takes it seriously. He went so far as to bite Wendy on the neck yesterday, which is the traditional way to exert authority over a cat with less status in the local hierarchy. He didn't like how she behaved toward his kitten. And so she cleaned up her act:

Harry and Wendy share a ribbon toy as Possum looks on with approval.

Possum says the kitten is Scottish; don't ask me how he knows this. (The kitten is too little to talk, not that he will ever get a word in edgewise around Possum.) Possy pointed out how the kitten's tabby markings have beautiful, subtle, gradations of silver-gray and tan along with rich, pure black. 

"Very striking," I agreed. "Like an expensive tweed." (Possum's perceptive, curatorial eye makes me so proud.)

"Precisely. Harris Tweed, in fact," said Possum. So the kitten is now Harris T. McBeastie, since Possum says he needs a Scottish surname that reflects his remarkable ferocity as a hunter, doing more damage to Da Bird in a few minutes than Wendy and Possum can inflict in a year.

Possum also says the kitten needs a title. "Oh, no! Not again!" we said. "Really, Possum," I said, "We don't want to go there. This is America and we don't care about that stuff. One title in the family is almost too many." Through a strange turn of events, Possum inherited the title of Baron von Rümpüsspüssë from his aristocratic Norwegian father. We tried not to let it go to his head, but it did anyway. My husband sometimes refers to him as "The Barrel," rather than "The Baron." For reasons that should be obvious in any photo....

But Possy insisted that his kitten would always feel inferior to him if he didn't have a title, too. So the Barrel Baron bestowed an honorary one; I didn't realize that there could be such liberties between the Norwegian and Scottish feline peerages, but what do I know? So, according to Possum, the kitten is now the Baron von Greywacke. I looked it up. "Greywacke" (pronounce the final "e") is a hard, dark, shimmery gray sandstone, used in ancient Egypt for statues and also common in the UK, including Scotland. I don't know how Possum came up with it since he's too busy babysitting and having his tail attacked to do research. But he gave us one of his winning looks, and we surrendered and let him have his way, as usual.

And so that's the story of the kitten's name. And now it's time to give little Harry some attention.


  1. Excellent name! Perhaps Possum could write a book on naming kittens.

  2. Love the name and lineage lore! 'Twas worth waiting for. Thanks for the chuckles and daily dose of adorableness!

  3. I'd love to see the kitten's whole name recorded as such at the vet's: "Harry T. McBeastie, the honorary Baron von Greywacke"!


  4. This whole thing had me smiling, and yes--a book in the making for Author Possum! Hear Hear! Hahameow!


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