Son makes cheesy choice for pet name

Published 12:06 am Friday, December 13, 2013

I don’t know which is easier, deciding on the name of your first child or coming up with the name of your next pet.

When my wife rescued the tiny kitten huddled in the bushes across the street, I knew we would eventually have to come up with the name for the little fur ball.

We tried to find a home for it before our 4-year-old son Gibson grew attached to the kitten. I went so far as to post a picture on Facebook. The only comments the post garnered were from friends who knew Gibson was going to love his new pet. It was not what I wanted to read.

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You can call it denial in the face of the inevitable, but I maintained our house was already too full for another pet.

For the first month, I refused to call the cat anything other than Kitten, because I knew the moment we named it, it would be ours for good.

I stressed with Gibson that we were looking for a new home for the kitten, even as he smothered it with hugs and kisses.

After a month with no leads, I gave up.

In a moment of defeat, I looked down and asked Gibson what he wanted to name the kitten.

I thought he might come up with something simple and straightforward like Kitty. Or he might name it Simba from the Lion King. Nala might be better considering the kitten is a girl.

Without hesitation Gibson looked up and said confidently, “Cheeseman.”

“Cheeseman?” I asked confounded.

“Yes,” Gibson replied with no comment, as if there was no other option.

We have had pets with imaginative names before in our house. Before we were married, my wife named a striped cat Topo because he resembled the lines on a topographic map.

For a time, I named cats after famous photographers. My first cat, a black, white mix, was named Ansel, after Ansel Adams. The orange and white cat that showed up on my doorstep in Jackon, I named Walker after the WPA photographer Walker Evans.

More recently, Jazzy got her name because my wife found her on the night of a Festival of Music jazz concert, and Garry got his because my wife rationalized my out-of-the-blue suggestion by agreeing that the cat was, indeed, garrulous.

Naming a new pet has always been a serious endeavor in our house. We’ve taken longer to name a cat than we did to name our own son. (In full disclosure, we never settled on a girl name when my wife went into labor. Thankfully, it was a boy.)

Not once has Cheeseman found its way onto the list of possible pet names, until now.

Whatever the origins of Gibson’s nomination, Cheeseman did not get a second in our family. It lingered in a few conversations with friends and family, but Gibson soon adopted the name proposed by his teacher when the kitten went for show and tell on “K” day.

Khaki is now a part of our lives and will soon meet her first Christmas tree — unless one of you wants to introduce her to your family.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3541 or by email at