13 April 2010

Bertie, or something else?

I'm tempted to give Bertie a new name, now that he has a new home. Bertie sounds too much like "birdie" and that's the word for "bird" that Callie the collie understands. Besides, I'm not sure how to pronounce Bertie in French. [behr-TEE] doesn't sound right.

I've thought about calling the cat Bertrand, but somehow that idea hasn't solidified in my mind. Bertrand [behr-TRÃ] with that final nasal vowel in French, of course. But it seems too formal, too pretentious.


So I'm looking for a bilingual name. I don't have any good candidates at this point. I'm thinking of his black color. French people might like the name Blackie, and it is more or less bilingual these days. What about Charbon? Onyx? Spooky?


We have a pattern going. Or a couple of them. The cat spends the day down in the utility room where the boiler and washing machine are. The door leading from there into the garage is open so that he can explore in there too — and there is quite a bit to explore, since we've stored beds, furniture, rugs, and other things in the garage for the duration of the attic conversion work. The new staircase is in there too. Needless to say, the car is parked outside.


During the night, or early in the morning, I start hearing the cat meow loudly. Then there are noises that sound like he is knocking things over or jumping up on the door that separates the utility room from the entryway downstairs. I think he is jumping up to grab onto the door handle, trying to open the door. I can't be sure, because I haven't actually seen him do it.

Unfortunately for the cat, that door opens inward, into the utility room, and not outward, into the entryway. So he is unlikely to ever get it open. When we hear all those noises during the night, one of us gets up and goes to get the cat. This morning it didn't happen until about 5:00 a.m., but the night before it was at about 1:30. Then the cat spends a few hours sleeping in the bedroom, until we all get up.


He seems content in the bedroom, with people. He meows a little, but he settles down pretty quickly. Callie is oblivious, as far as we can tell. She sleeps in the living room, and the living room doors are closed. There is little chance of a hissing and barking spat in the wee hours of the morning.

The next step in the integration of the cat into our environment is the big one: we have to let him go outside. And we have to trust that he will come back when he wants food, water, and human company. We have to make sure Callie doesn't chase him away for good. She'll have to stay inside for a while longer.


  1. He looks quite scared, not just scary. It must be quite an upheaval for him and from what I remember about owning a cat many years ago they do tend to wander off and have trouble finding their way home the first few times they are let out. They love exploring and will travel huge distances, especially if you or your neighbours have mice or other cats.

    He's very handsome and I think I would call him something English and very gentle, such as Brian or Benny so that it still begins with a B.

  2. Why not give him full French citizenship and call him Noirot?

  3. Ken, How about the name Noir for Bertie - sounds like Meow and is French for black.

  4. I like Jean's suggestion of something gentle, still starting with B... but, if I were to choose from amongst the choices you've mentioned, I rather like Charbon, I think. Definitely not Blackie-- it sounds too much like some horrible term from the '20s, like darkies or coloreds :(((.


  5. I like Benny-- I think it's a cute name! That was Jean's suggestion... I second it!
    He does look scared - spooked.. but I'm sure he'll get more used to his surroundings in the upcoming weeks.. I LOVE black cats..
    Take care,

  6. Another suggestion beginning with B - how about Billy ?

  7. Hi Jean, glad to hear from you. I assume you and Nick got back to England safely the other day.

    I want a can name that is easy to pronounce in both French and English. Benny ("béni" = "blessed") could work. Brian is too hard in French. Billy -- pronounced [bee-LEE] or [bee-YEE] would be the question.

    By the way, in that first photo, Bertie/Spooky/Blackie was just yawning... I think.

    CHM, with Noirot we could just call him Fifi I guess.

    Leon and Sue, glad to know you have arrived home safely.

    Judy, I do agree with you about Blackie. But in France, I'm not sure the name would have those connotations.

    Hi Leesa, I like Benny but I'm leaned toward Spooky.

  8. I love thinking of pet names! Everything except Blackie sounds good to me. I've been wanting to name something Tonto for a couple of months now- faithful companion and all that.

    Smoky is a good name also and would be OK in french.

    Our cat bangs around the house like yours- they can be mischief makers. I think your cat is doing great so far.

    Hmmm, maybe BB or BeeGee would also work. Or even Boo like Boo Radley in To Kill Mockingbird- wouldn't be as good in French though.

  9. Ramoneur?
    Your Bertie is really cute. I love black cats.

  10. Smoky. Nuit. Inky. Smudge. Charlot. Charbon. Buddy.

  11. Blackberry, Blackjack, Shadow.......maybe it should at least sound like Bertie since he prob already answers to his name??? He has beautiful eyes.......yes, a short name would be best, esp if ur going to be calling him in at night....i like Benny (sounds enuf like berti....maybe he's a comedian like jack benny)

  12. Okay, on my way to work, I had another thought: Berry or Berri :)
    French connections:
    le Berry
    la Noire du Berry
    Claude Berri

    English connections:
    berry, as in all of the luscious, dark berries we love, such as blackberries, blueberries, black cherries (well, I think of a black cherry kind of as a berry)

    Even: Barry, or Baron (French & English and regal, like a black cat)... also, Barry White was a black American singer/songwriter with a deep, soulful voice *LOL*

    Okay, enough! I do like Berri/Berry or Barry or Baron :))

  13. How about Obsidian, Sid for short?

  14. I'll jump in with General Beauregard, or just Beauregard or Beau. Maybe Beau Noir.

  15. Bricks? Brody? Brooks?

  16. lol seine judeet....luv it....La Noire du Berri

  17. He probably had full reign at the last place and can't understand why he doesn't have it now.

  18. With feline family members named Obadiah, Hannibal, Wellington, Antigone, Perseus, and Callista (not all at the same time), you know where my predilections lie.

    I'd suggest a name that lends itself to word play. For that reason, I'm liking Benny (and the Jets, jet black cat, get it?) You could name him Benjamin Franklin (a noted Francophile) and call him Benny for short. Or Franky.

    The important thing is to get him to understand his new name. We find cat treats are a useful tool. Of course you run the risk that the cat thinks his name is Possible Food.

  19. So names... Licorice? My cousins had a black dog named Clinker (coal-related) or you could do Cinders. You've had "C" pet names so far, so you could stick with that. Or something like Blackjack, Phantom, Raven?

    Our cat Mac (short for Macadamian) likes to try to open the door, too. He grips both sides of the knob with his paws, but can't quite get the necessary traction. It's very cute, though.

    Good luck!

  20. How about ChatNoir? I rather like Noirot too--rhymes with Poirot. Perhaps he will be a great detective. Now, it sounds as if he needs some more time to acclimate.

    Word verification is catenzar--clearly, a sign of . . . something.

  21. When you are acclimating a cat to a new environment you're suppose to keep them in doors for a minimum of 30 days before you let them outside.

    My cat Stella body slams against our bedroom door every morning......SHE WANTS IN! And thats after we put her out of the bedroom around 5:00 am.

    Your new cat will be a wonderful addition. And as you know border collies are smart....Callie will adjust just fine. But she will probably try to herd the cat.

    Victoria, mother to Casey, the border collie, Bellingham, WA

  22. CHM, d'abord, tu sais, j'ai confondu Noirot et Noiret, et je pensais à Philippe Noiret -- donc Fifi. Never mind, as we say.

    Lots of names to choose from. Walt and I have to agree before we can decide. Benny seems to have the edge... (thanks, Jean).

    Licorice in French is Réglisse and I like that one. Thanks, Ginny.

    As for Bertie recognizing his name, I see no evidence of that. He doesn't come, no matter what you call him, as far as I can tell. Unless you have food in your hand.


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