It’s hard to believe that March 11 will mark 10 years since the tsunami-caused nuclear disaster at Fukushima. While more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes to avoid the initial reactor meltdowns and resulting fallout, Sakae Kato stayed to care for the animals who were left behind.
His main focus is Fukushima’s cats, and he cares for 41 kitties who live in his home and a nearby building he owns, per The Guardian, which has a photo gallery via Reuters illustrating Kato’s efforts.
The Fukushima disaster was the worst nuclear accident since the infamous Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Like the area surrounding Chernobyl, a no-go exclusion zone exists around the disaster site and will not be deemed fit for human habitation for perhaps hundreds of years. While scientists are still learning about the consequences for wildlife, animal populations have flourished in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where they’re isolated from humans.
Ridiculous and amusing cat names
If you’re planning on adopting any time soon or you’ve got an as-yet-unnamed furball and need some help finding a good name, you might find inspiration in this list from Reader’s Digest.
There are celebrity-inspired names (Kitty Purry, Catalie Portman, Bob Meowley, Cat Dennings, Catrick Swayze), Star Trek-inspired names (Captain Purrcard, Levar Purrton, William Catner, Leonard Nemeow), literary names (Haruki Purrakami is my favorite along with Holden Clawfield and Stelmaria), names inspired by history (Mewlius Caesar, Fuzz Aldrin), and names from the world of sports (Catfish Hunter, Meowhammad Ali). There are even food- and personality-driven names.
“These sailors’ courageous and compassionate actions have made a splash with kind people around the world,” PETA senior vice president Jason Baker said. “PETA hopes their example will inspire everyone to keep an eye out for animals in danger and do whatever it takes to get them to safety.”
Thatsaphon Saii, seated, carried the cats on his back to the safety of the Thai navy vessel. Credit: Wichit Pukdeelon/Thai Royal Navy
NEW YORK — After seeing photos of Gandalf, a tabby who grew a magnificent coat worthy of his namesake after he was rescued, Buddy the Cat demanded a more epic name on Monday, sources said.
“Look at this one,” Buddy said, waving a paw at an Instagram page for Grolgoth the Unstoppable, a four-year-old tuxedo from Skokie, Illinois.
“Or even something like this guy,” Buddy scrolled to a photo of a pantherine black cat named Razorclaw. “Why can’t I be a Razorclaw, a Duke Destructo or an Ares the Annihilator? Come to think of it, what the heck is a Buddy?”
The annoyed cat looked up the definition of his name, becoming even more perturbed at the Miriam-Webster entry:
“What am I, a furry little toddler? I mean come on!”
“I mean, you could’ve named me something awesome like Brutus the Bone Cruncher,” Buddy complained to his human, Big Buddy. “Or Maximus! Or…or Steel Fang!”
(Above: Gandalf a year ago when he was rescued, left, and Gandalf now with his badass beard.)
As of press time, Buddy’s human reminded him that even his own toys terrify him, and the last time he got scared, he hid behind Big Buddy’s leg and cried.
“Those are false allegations!” Buddy said. “Retract them, or I shall poop in your shoes when you least expect it!”
The Dickensian moniker tops a new list of 2020’s most popular male cat names, followed by Charlie and Leo, two names with regal connotations. You can’t throw a dart at a history book without hitting a King Charles, while Leo conjures images of the famed Spartan King Leonidas as well as panthera leo, aka the African lion, often mistakenly called the king of the jungle. (Tigers, not lions, occupy jungles. They’re also the largest cats on the planet.)
Rounding out the royalty-themed names are Simba (at number seven), the eponymous Lion King, Loki (at eighth-most-popular) of son-of-Odin Asgardian fame, George (10) and Louie (13), as in Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil, the Sun King of Versailles.
Here are the top 24, which might seem like an arbitrary number until you read through the list:
Yep. Buddy’s not sure if he should be insulted at the lack of recognition, or happy that the feline Buddies are an apparently exclusive club.
The list was compiled by Rover.com, a site that allows people to connect with pet sitters and dog walkers. The list is based on the most popular names of cats belonging to the site’s registered users.
Before I adopted Buddy, I vowed I’d be a different kind of cat dad.
Where other people gave their cats normal, mundane and even human names, I would give my kitten a spectacular moniker, one that would convey both his awesomeness and my cleverness.
If my new kitten were female, I’d name her Arya or Khaleesi. By the time I was ready to adopt, I was set on the former. For people who weren’t Game of Thrones obsessives for the past eight years, Arya Stark (pictured above) was the show’s plucky orphan and one of its most popular characters.
If my new kitten were male, I’d name him Khal Drogo after the fierce Dothraki warlord played by the musclebound Jason Momoa. But perhaps Khal Drogo wasn’t awesome enough. Maybe I needed something even more badass, like Tigron, Destroyer of Worlds, or Saberfang the Earthshaker.
Then I took the soon-to-be-named Buddy home and realized those names were ridiculous. This tiny ball of fur with a pipsqueak mew couldn’t be Khal Drogo or Tigron. In fact, the first thing I called him was buddy: After I’d placed him in his brand new carrier and carefully buckled the carrier into the front passenger seat of my car, he looked at me through the bars with those big grey (at the time) eyes and cried.
“Don’t worry, buddy, we’re going to be best friends,” I assured him. “You’ll see.”
No doubt he was further traumatized and terrorized by my terrible singing voice as I queued up some tunes for the drive home.
After some two weeks of indecision, I was hanging out with my brother one night when he asked me about my new friend.
“Ah, the cat…” I said.
“You still haven’t given him a name?” My brother was incredulous.
I had given him a name, I just hadn’t realized it yet. During those two weeks I called him buddy, with a lowercase b. A nickname. Not long after that, it became official.
My cat’s name is Buddy.
In retrospect, it makes sense to hold off on granting a name for a while. There are a million Mittens and Socks and Shadows in the world, but how many cats have names that reflect their personality?
It turns out Buddy isn’t a particularly common cat name. It doesn’t appear at all in most popular cat name lists floating around the web, whether they’re sourced from registration, veterinary records or user-generated data.
Buddy finally makes an appearance way down on the list of cuteness.com’s most popular cat names, at #67, way behind enduring male names like Max, Charlie, Milo, Simba, Oliver, Jack, George, Loki, Jasper, Felix and Tiger.
In an article on male cat names, veterinarian Debra Primovic hits the nail on the head:
The majority of cats named Buddy are mixed breed cats owned or named by men. They are often rescued or strays brought into homes and hearts across the world. They are generally loyal and adore their owners.
A Buddy isn’t a prissy, carefully-bred show pet. He’s a Buddy.
The word buddy first came to prominence in 19th-century ‘Merica, and there are two main theories about where the name comes from. The most popular one posits “buddy” is a corruption of the word “brother,” according to Word Detective, while others trace its etymology back to “butty,” a slang-word for a comrade or co-worker among miners, pirates and others who were after “booty.”
Not booty in the modern sense, as in “Get on the dance floor and shake your booty!” but in the treasure sense, as in “Argh! Tell us where the booty be or walk the plank, we shall make ye! Now talk, scallywag!”
I like the first one because it fits: While I do feel parentally protective of my Bud, I see him more as a little brother or a best friend instead of my “child.” No disrespect meant to the people who call their cats “furbabies,” of course. It’s just how I envision our feline-human friendship.
What’s your cat’s naming story? Were you as ridiculous as I was, or did you have your heart set on something less absurd from the beginning?
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.