Full Name: Theobold the Magnificent, Panther Boy of Death (and how his name got that big)

Well, once we decided to keep Theo and had him neutered (another whole story), we had to name him. My husband and I both being artists, we came up with lots of creative names, some in other languages, some based on Greek or Roman myths. None of them stuck. Then one day a friend was visiting and she said he looked a little bit like her old black cat, Thelma. “Theo is kind of like a male version of Thelma,” she said. Ah HA! Theo it is then. Easy, short, has the right kind of sounds cats like (no “s” in there, not too many syllables, sounds a little bit like “meow”).

But. Theo kept getting bigger and bigger. And even though we’d had him neutered, he still acted like he was a MAN. It was like he was channeling Muddy Waters. He would swagger around the house and you could just hear him singing,

(Background bass: Bah Bah Bah BOMP, Bah Bah Bah BOMP.)

“I’m a MAN

I’m a full-grown MAN

Yes I’m a MAN…”

He liked to bite, and he liked to scratch. My arms were covered with either bleeding wounds or scars or both. Yet he had his little moments of cuteness. I frequently pointed out to him that those little moments were keeping him alive. And all this time, Karma (remember Karma from before?) was still with us, getting more and more feeble but still chugging along. So Theo had to live downstairs and Karma lived upstairs. It was not easy.

As Theo got more and more large and in charge, his name kind of morphed along with him. First it became Theobold (he pretends to be very bold but he’s really a fraidy cat). Then, Theobold the Magnificent. Panther Boy was because of his shape and coloring, and the “of Death” part was because of his aggressiveness.

Of course we only call him his FULL name when he’s been bad. “Theo” is much easier most of the time. And unlike many cats, he knows his (short) name and responds to it almost always. (We think he was a dog in many previous lives.) He’s now 8 years old, so he’s calmed down a lot. He meets us at the door when we come home, comes running upstairs when we call him from the upper part of the house, and is in general too smart for his own good.

Wait, you’re saying. He comes upstairs now? What about Karma? She was the upstairs cat, right? Oh no…she finally passed away, didn’t she? Yes, but not until she was 21 and a half years old. She had the longest life of any cat we ever had. And once she was gone we began the process of convincing Theo that he could now have the run of the whole house. That took a while but of course, he now acts as though this is HIS house and we, his slaves, are graciously permitted to live here. As long as we obey his every command. Which, of course, we pretty much do.

Next post: More about Theo and Karma.