Miss Kitty, Whiskers, Lucky and Scooby may seem like adorable — not to mention popular — names for a feline or canine. But just like baby names, the kind of monikers we pick for our pets ebb and flow with the times.
After mining Vetstreet's records to determine the top cat and dog names that have been trending up over the past 12 years, we decided to also take a look at pet names that have drastically dropped off the popularity list.
For some added insight about these down-trenders, we turned to Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and creator of babynamewizard.com, to help us divine why Brandy and Snowball have fallen off the favorability track to make room for all the Lolas and Coopers now in the pet world.
Pets Are People Too
While analyzing the trendiest pet names, we discovered that owners often find inspiration in human baby name books when selecting a name for their pet. According to Wattenberg, this explains why description-centric picks — Snowball, Pepper, Shadow — are on the decline. "Some of these falling names were once in the hall of fame of popular names," says Wattenberg, citing examples like Tabitha, Tigger, Sheba and Miss Kitty. "For cats, in particular, the trend toward more humanlike naming shows that cats are really becoming a major part of the family."
News Flash: The Eighties Are So Over
Another significant connection between many of the names on the downward-trending list: A lot of them were tremendously popular in the 1980s. Monikers like Misty, Samantha, Katie and even — ruh-roh! — Scooby. The folks at VH1 may love waxing nostalgic about the era of acid-washed jeans and metal bands, but when it comes to pet names, America has clearly moved on. Sorry, Spike.
Sounds Like . . .
In addition to the meaning behind a name and the connotations it may hold, we also have to take into account the actual sound. Wattenberg points out that many of the cat picks in decline have light, crunchy sounds, such as Whiskers and Alex. Names rising in popularity are warmer and softer, including Lola and Cooper. Another theory to ponder: Owners are opting for cuddlier names because they're more attached than ever to their pets.
(Names presented as male/female. Make sure to scroll down to see the top cat picks!)