Vol. 70 No. 2 (2022): Names: A Journal of Onomastics

Cat Naming Practices in Saudi Arabia

Muteb Alqarni
King Khalid University

Published 2022-06-03


  • pet naming,
  • zoonymy,
  • anthroponymy,
  • personal names,
  • Saudi Arabia,
  • onomastics
  • ...More


The current paper explores cat naming practices in Saudi Arabia (SA), an Islamic Arabic-speaking country in the Middle East. Based on a corpus of 586 cat names, the study reveals that female cat owners assign
non-Arabic foreign names to their cats, while their male counterparts prefer traditional Arabic ones. In general, however, Saudi cat owners of both genders choose Arabic or non-Arabic names on the basis of whether or not their cat is local or purchased. Locally adopted cats are given Arabic names, whereas non-locally purchased felines receive non-Arabic ones. The study also shows that most of the cat names given by the SA respondents in this investigation are personal names commonly given to people. This anthropomorphized tendency in name selection corroborates the results of earlier studies conducted in the USA and Australia (e.g., Abel & Kruger 2007), Germany (e.g., Bergien 2014) and Sweden (e.g., Leibring 2014), but contradicts research undertaken in Taiwan (Chen 2017) and Ghana (Yakub 2020). Aside from human names, the study reports other cat names related to food, colors, plants, places, royal titles, and body parts. As far as the linguistic characteristics of the cat names are concerned, Saudi cat names have reduplicated structures or onomatopoeic associations. They also end with vowels [e.g., -i, -a, -u] or other suffixes such as [-ah] or [-aan].


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