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Ever wonder how we name the animals in our care?

With the number of animals coming through our facilities every year, it can be a challenge to find unique names for every one. How do we do it? (A: It’s pretty random!)The cats, dogs and other animals at the RAPS Animal Shelter and RAPS Cat Sanctuary have some weird and wonderful names. When you care for thousands of animals in a year, it can be a challenge to come up with unique monikers for each one!

Have you ever wondered how shelters and sanctuaries come up with names for the animals? Well, it’s more art than science! And, in fact, there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason.

The only consistent factor is in the case of kittens. Each year, the first litter of kittens at the RAPS Animal Shelter are each named with the letter A. The second litter are all “B” babies and so forth. That’s all well and good until we get to the X’s and Z’s. Uncommon names need to be created. This is how we ended up with cats named Xavier, Xiomara, Xenon, Xango, Xylophone. A few weeks later along came Zora, Zared, Zane and Zoelle.

“Usually, whatever staff member is on duty and doing intake of the new animals has the privilege of naming the animal,” says Shelter Manager Shena Novotny. It’s a special honour to name animals, although occasionally someone will be overwhelmed by the awesome responsibility.

“Some people love it and then some people also feel a bit overwhelmed by it so they’ll pass it on to someone else.”

How we come up with names is as diverse as the people and animals at RAPS.

“Sometimes it can be due to the season or the time of year,” she says. “We’ll go for fall names or find some cool spooky Halloween names.” One autumnal litter was named Harvest, Autumn and Pumpkin Spice. Kittens who arrived around Halloween were named Voodoo, Warlock, Casper and Candy.

For the holiday times, we’ll sometimes pick seasonal names. Mistletoe, Jolly, Polar, Snowie, Klaus, St. Nick, Nutmeg, Nutcracker, Blitzen, Dancer and Tinsel are examples.

“Sometimes it’s because somebody loves different types of food or something from their culture. It could be characters from books or video games,” says Shena.

A group of four cats were named after soft drinks: Brisk, Fanta, Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

The process can be random. But, Shena says: “Sometimes you just see an animal and it clicks, a perfect name just pops into your head.”