Better than a dead lion

The Bible says a “living dog is better than a dead lion,” (huh?) and Shakespeare noted a “rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” (whatever) But, when it comes to names for living pets, the Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI ) says puns, pop culture, and a little bit of poop are the pet lovers’ choice. VPI employees selected 50 unusual dog and cat names from the company’s database of more than 485,000 insured pets and narrowed them down by voting for the 10 most unusual names for each species.

Since I keep a pet, an old orange and white, long-haired feline domesticus that sheds all over the house, I was mildly interested in the company’s findings for cat names. Actually, I’m just a sucker for lists. Among the top 10 oddball names for cats are: Purr Diem, Bing Clawsby, Cleocatra and Watts in a Name.

I’ve already covered the pet name territory in a recent post, see “Free Tiger,” but right here, for the record, my old tomcat’s name is Mr. Tiger Nutwoods, a nod to the famous golfer known for his own brand of alley catting. I’ve had him (the cat, not the golfer) as a rather dubious gift for the past 14 years. He sleeps on my desk while I write, crawls under my bed covers to snuggle at my feet, laps my bath water while I towel dry. He’s both a pest and a pleasure, that I sometimes called “Nutty Nutwoods.”

“One of our favorite parts of putting these lists together is talking to the pets’ owners and finding out how they came up with such imaginative names,” said Curtis Steinhoff, director of corporate communications for VPI. In German, Steinhoff’s name means a someone whose farm is distinguished by conspicuous boulders, which makes him an expert in odd names? But hey, better the farm than rocks in the head!

 “Strangely enough, a lot of them (pet owners) tell us they ruled out names they’d be too embarrassed to shout in public when calling their pets back to them,” Steinhoff said. “When you think about the names these owners finally decided on – like ‘Lord Chubby Pruneface’ and ‘Optimus Pants,’ – it really makes you wonder what didn’t make their cut.”

Don’t wonder what you call your pets, but when it’s 50 below zero and pouring rain, I just open the patio door and chirp into the garden: “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.” Tiger Nutwoods is usually inside and at his food bowl faster than a hole-in-one. If you’re determined to muse about these things, the full list of 50 unusual dog and cat names, pictures of pets who made the Top 10, and the stories behind those oddball monikers, visit

Rembember to bring in your pets in before the July 4th festivities explode. Every year, frightened animals get lost or killed due to the commotion caused by people who can’t say what the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence is. “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary,” remember to clean the cat box, and recall the best part of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Please send us your own wacky pet name and a story on how you chose it. Funny photos are most welcome as long as no pets get hurt. Use the comments section below. We all need a laugh on a firecracker holiday. Happy 4th!

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

Published by Kate Campbell

Writer, editor, photographer, novelist, short story writer, poet.

One thought on “Better than a dead lion

  1. This is a very disturbing image and has upset my daughter terribly. It appears to be that someone has done something illegal and agonizing to a cat. I hope there's another explanation.

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