The naming of cats is a difficult matter
When Gatwick first came to live with us, he was named George. James and I did not like the name George, nor did the cat look like a George. I don't know what the shelter workers were thinking, but I figure they see a lot of cats and probably run out of good names a few times a year. You have to cut them some slack.
So we set about naming the cat. We considered Avery and Chester, both respectable cat names, if our cat was a butler in a tuxedo. I tried to rally support for Lapsang Souchong, after the smokey-flavored tea, because "George" was a smokey grey color. But my husband wouldn't have it. (He pretended he couldn't say it, butchering it to "Lapsang Singsong" and other variations.) We finally decided on Gatwick because it seemed to suit him and it reminded me of England, one of my favorite grey things.
We named the second cat before we even decided to take her. But once James started referring to her by name instead of as "the kitten," I knew it was a done deal. My family likes to pretend that her name, Cheska, is short for Francesca, but it's not. Her full name is Cheska and she's named after an imaginary alligator.
Once upon a time, before James and I were married and before we had any pets, I had stuffed animals. James has the uncanny ability to imbue any inanimate object with a multi-faceted personality. He's made me laugh at the antics of a salt shaker and nearly cry because a pillow shaped like a fish wanted to come home with us. He applied this talent to my stuffed animals, specifically an orange moose named Eli and a pastel pink and green Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. (There were also two hedgehogs who regularly performed vaudevillian skits, but they're not part of this story.)
A side note on Eli: He was one of three sherbet-colored moose(s) that once lived at Target. He had a raspberry-mauve sister and a moss-green brother. I may have carried all three of them around the store, waiting for James to turn around and see me with an armload of moose(s) and offer to take them all home. He did, but I buckled under the pressure of responsible spending and settled on just one: the orange-creamsicle moose. (I've felt guilty about leaving his siblings behind ever since.)
Eli and Piglet became great friends, despite the weird moose-pig dynamic. Piglet had been lonely and was pleased to have a new friend, especially since he hadn't seen Pooh for awhile. (I think this was when Pooh got stuck in a doorway after too much of a little smackeral.) Piglet and Eli had lots to say and do, and all of it was funneled through the magical storytelling and puppetry of James.
That's how I found out about Lars and Cheska, a married couple with whom Piglet and Eli are friends. (I'm getting back to the cats. Hold your whiskers.) The husband Lars is a frog, and his wife Cheska is an alligator. Some people have wondered at the strange relationship and even feared for little Lars' life, but they're a lovely couple. And they loved to hang out with Piglet and Eli while I was gone at work during the day.
But then one day, Lars and Cheska moved to San Francisco. Piglet and Eli were sad, but perked up when they realized that they could go visit them. Neither one had been to California before, so it was extra exciting. They're still friends today, all these years later.
(You can see why we needed to have pets or children. We weren't ready for kids. So kits it was.)
And that's how we named our second cat after an imaginary alligator who is friends with our stuffed animals. It was all James' doing. The name fit perfectly and stuck with the little kitten. But of course, like all cats, ours go by many names. They even have their own theme songs:
Gatwick the Catwick, for all your Catwick needs! Gatwick the Catwick, he does what he pleases! Gatwick the Catwick! He's the greatest Catwick!
Hey Cheska! You're a little kitty! Hey Cheska! You're so pretty. Oh my little Cheska, yes you are my kitty, yeah! (sung to a bastardized chorus of "Mambo Italiano")
But back to those names:
Gatwick is also affectionately known as:
- Gatarino Wam-bam-bino
- Big guy
- Sweet Pea
- Sweetie Peetie
- Little one
- Cheskalator (This one has a song too: "Cheska now, Cheska later. Get on the Cheskalator!")
- Cheska Sue
- Chickie Cheska
- Frisky Fresca
- Francesca or Frannie (all by members of my family)
As far as I know, Gatwick and Cheska have never met Lars and Cheska.