What’s in a Name?

I realised yesterday that all our pets are now Italian! None of the originals we brought over from the UK are with us any more (as it was 15 years ago it would be a miracle if they still were, but saying that, the last “original” only died  last year.) It got me thinking about pet names and the kind of names that are common here in Italy.We have kind of a mix and match at the moment, some English, some Italian and some plain weird.

In the past some of our animals have had rather challenging names- from Birkana the half-Siamese named after a rune to Widget the cat named after a spare part. And I vividly remember our Iranian vet in England, when introduced to new kitten Chloe, saying: ‘So this is Shluh.’

Some names have caused a bit of confusion here in Italy. I made the mistake of spelling labrador ZsaZsa’s name as you see it, which means the vet pronounces it TsaTsa. I should have written ZaZa apparently. This also turns out to be a character in some southern Italian song, I think. We actually named her after Madame Kiki and Madame ZsaZsa in a popular tv advert about six years ago, although ZsaZsa Gabor may also have had a hand in things, so to speak. Mind you, you have never seen anything less like a svelte film star!

Young mongrel Maia already had her name when we got her. I cleverly spelled it with lots of vowels in true Italian fashion, only to discover a lot of Italians spell it Maya. Foiled again.

We needed to find a new name for the stray we had dubbed  ‘Mummy Cat’  – as she was always hugely pregnant – after we had her spayed. I thought it should be as close as possible to her old Mummy Cat name and so after walking around the house like a looney saying suitable sounding names out loud I came up with Monica.

Meanwhile her daughter (or sister) is called a fairly banal Misha to mimic the micio (MEE-choh) call Italians use to entice cats. (Sort of equivalent to our ‘puss puss’). Monica’s sole surviving kitten is called Jimmy because he looked like a Jimmy! That should probably be spelled Jimi here though!

One of the interesting things I have discovered while looking through all the pet adoption sites I have been scouring since starting this site is the variety of fascinating Italian names for dogs and cats.

I had been labouring under the misapprehension that there was relatively little variety in Italian pet names as I met my hundredth Lupo, Ringo, Whisky (spelled wisky and pronounced weeskee) or Lassie (pronounced Lessie). But I was wrong. All manner of names have emerged, from the beautiful Gaspare (on this site and one of the Three Kings) to the evocatively named Wind (I trust you are getting images of a breeze tousled beauty here and not its somewhat flatulent alternative!)

So if you are stuck for a name for your pet and want a lovely Italian one then have a look here. Oh, and could I just point out that Fiona was obviously a mistake in the list…



  1. What a wonderful website, we are in the process of adopting a new puppy and I have been looking for Italian pet names and this was Great…THANK YOU. P.S. The information and stories are heartwarming!


  1. […] I hope you like this list of Italian dog names, and don’t forget they can be used for cats and othet pets! And you might like this post about Italian dog names. […]

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