Should You Change a Cat's Name When You Adopt?

Whether to change a cat's name depends largely on circumstances.
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Opening your home to a new cat is wonderful for you both, but is it a good idea to change her name? You might have picked out the perfect name, but if she's used to something else, consider a few things before rushing to rechristen your new friend.

Cats and Names

Cats don't respond to their names in quite the same way that dogs do. And unlike people, cats don't consider their names to be part of their identity. Although cats can be taught to respond to their names, it's more likely that they're actually responding to the sound, cadence and tone of voice that you use when you call them.


Kittens typically have no difficulty learning a new name. Under most circumstances, a kitten given a name prior to the adoption hasn't had much time to become accustomed to it. It's fine to give your kitten a name that fits his appearance and personality and makes him feel more like a part of your family.

Adult Cats

The question of whether to change an adult cat's name is debatable, and depends largely on circumstances. In a direct adoption, such as adopting a cat from a friend or family member who can no longer care for it, keeping the name that the cat has already gotten used to may make the transition to a new home less traumatic. If a cat is going to live or be allowed outdoors, keeping his name and not requiring him to learn a new one is the safest option, as there might be occasions when you need to call the cat inside or away from danger.

Rescue Cats

When rescuing a cat from a shelter, where names are typically given to cats instead of numbers, it depends largely on how long the cat was at the shelter and how long he has had to get used to the shelter name, or whether the cat already had that name when he came to the shelter. Of course, when rescuing a stray cat off of the street, you most likely have no idea if he even has a name. In this case, it's fine to christen the kitty with a new name to go with his new life.

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