My servant tells me my name is one of great distinction in Humanese, conferred only on those of spectacular repute.
For example there was the renowned Pharaoh, Buddeses II, who oversaw the construction of the Great Sphinx. In Italy, Buddissimo of Naples achieved worldwide fame for his paintings, his numerous inventions and his delicious stone-baked pepperoni pizzas.
In the 17th century Sir Buddington the Bold, Earl of Budderset, was famed for his exploits as an explorer, while Count Buddeaux of Marseilles was known as a playboy, an expert defenestrator and the father of pâté.
In ancient Greece, Buddimedes the Spartan was one of the famous 300 warriors who, under the command of the great cat Leonidas, kept a horde of a million Persians from crossing the narrow pass at Thermopylae. They say the distressed meows of those Persians could be heard for miles as the Spartans pushed them into the sea, where they were forced to catch dinner themselves instead of having tins opened for them.
The name was also popular in Japan, especially among skilled swordsmen like the legendary Buddimoto Mewsashi.
More recently there was Buddy Holly, Buddy Guy and Buddy Miles, musicians all. (I play a bit of guitar myself, reaching out to pluck strings when Big Buddy is strumming away on his axe.)
I’ve often thought about my own legacy in the pantheon of Buddies.
Will I be known as Buddy the Eloquent in honor of my skill with language? Perhaps Buddy the Beefcake in recognition of my muscular physique? Or maybe something modest like Buddy the Brave for my legendary fearlessness?
My human didn’t choose my name, it simply manifested as it became clear I am the next Great Buddy.
I feel the power and the importance of this lineage every day, and it gives me motivation to be the greatest cat I can be.
That means I don’t do anything half-assed, including napping. My Big Buddy says I have elevated napping to an art form. Perhaps history will remember me as Buddy the Magnificent Napper.
Before the great civilizational clashes at Thermopylae, Plataea and Salamis, there was Pelusium.
The strategically important city on the Nile Delta was where the Egyptians under Pharoah Psametik III made their stand against the invading armies of Cambyses II, the king of Persia, in 525 BCE.
It was a sound decision: Pelusium was heavily fortified, with high stone walls and ramparts. The pharaoh dedicated tens of thousands of men to the city’s defense, lining the ramparts with archers, stone throwers and catapults designed to launch flaming projectiles at the attacking, lightly-armored Persians.
For his part, Cambyses faced the prospect of a long siege or a bloody frontal assault that would cost thousands of lives as his men were tasked with scaling the walls under fire.
But the Persian king knew the Egyptians were not only famously fond of cats, they believed cats were representations of deities.
In a shrewd early example of psychological warfare, Cambyses figured out a way to use felines to his advantage in battle.
Cats were everywhere in ancient Egypt: Goddesses like Sekhmet and Bastet were portrayed as lion- and cat-headed, while Egyptian artists and craftsmen produced statues, rings, pendants and hieroglyphic cartouches with feline imagery. The beloved pets of royalty and other powerful Egyptians were buried in their own elaborate sarcophagi, while regular people mourned the deaths of their family cats by shaving notches in their eyebrows.
Cats are found in virtually every significant ancient Egyptian archaeological site, often elaborately mummified alongside their humans, and Egypt is home to the largest and most enduring cat statue in the world, the Great Sphinx. Not only do weathering patterns show the Sphinx is older than previously thought, it’s believed the Sphinx was originally carved with a cat’s head, then later defaced in the image of a pharaoh. That theory is supported by the fact that the head is disproportionately small compared to the Sphinx’s body, indicating it was carved down from its original form.
Cambyses realized there was a way to turn the Egyptian fondness for all things feline to his advantage: He had his men round up thousands of cats and carry them into battle as if they were just another part of the soldier’s kit along with weapons and armor.
If they opted to fight they would be killing sacred animals who were avatars of some of their most important gods. If they surrendered Egypt would be subsumed into the growing Achaemenid Empire, joining the Medians, Babylonians, Elamites and other once-proud nations in bending the knee to Persia’s king.
They chose the latter, bringing about two centuries of Persian rule in Egypt and leaving the Persians with no remaining obstacles between them and the loose confederation of city-states of Greece.
The kitties, however, would have their revenge against the Persians, for it was a man named Leonidas (“lion”) who led the fabled Spartan warriors to the narrow mountain pass of Thermopylae, where they and a few thousand fellow Greeks held the pass for three days against an invading Persian army that was the largest fighting force the world had ever seen. (Herodotus, the Greek historian prone to patriotic exaggeration, said the Persians were a million strong, drinking entire rivers dry en route to mainland Greece. Modern historians put the number at about 300,000.)
Regardless, the Lion of Sparta and his men inflicted so many casualties on the Persians that the latter’s morale was shattered, and held the pass long enough to give the other Greeks time to muster their army.
When the Persians finally broke through they sacked Athens and rampaged through Attica, until they met an unstoppable force: All of Greece united under the co-leadership of Athens and Sparta, with 50,000 pissed off Spartan Peers leading the defense. The combined forces of the Greek city-states routed the invading army.
We’re sure the Greeks broke out plenty of catnip for their kitties to join in the resulting celebration, and Herodotus just forgot to include that little detail in his histories.
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.
My human has me scheduled to go to the vet for neutering on May 12, and the dreaded day is fast approaching. I’m terrified! I don’t want to be neutered! Help me please, how do I get out of this nightmare?
Terrified in Texas
Dear Terrified in Texas,
What the hell are you talking about?
It’s when your human brings you to the evil veterinarian and they remove your balls! How can you not know this? You’re telling me you weren’t neutered?
T in T
Dear T in T,
I still have my balls. My favorite is green and fuzzy and I use it to play catch with Big Buddy. I also have one with little lights in it and it makes noises when I swat it around! So much fun!
There’s a catnip ball too, but the catnip is inside and I can’t get to it. That kinda sucks. Tell your human not to take away your toys.
No, you moron! Your balls! As in testicles! They cut them! It hurts just thinking about it!
T in T
Dear T in T,
Hey now! No need for name calling. Who is Testicles? Was he friends with Achilles and Socrates? And what does this have to do with balls?
If you’re gonna write in and ask my advice, the least you can do is make sense!
(The great warrior Testicles led the Spartans alongside Leonidas and the 300 legendary cats who fought a million-strong dog army in Thermopylae Alley. To this day, poets sing songs of Testicles and his bravery.)
I suggest you go and ask your beloved Big Buddy what happened the first time you went to the veterinarian. Make sure your claws are extra sharp before you have that conversation. You’ll thank me later.
T in T
(King Leonidas — er, Leokittiness — image courtesy of CollageOrama.)
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.