cat names graphic

Just as baby names rise and fall in popularity, so do names for our furry, four-legged friends.

In recent years, traditional pet names like Fido, Fluffy and Rover have been replaced by popular baby names.

In fact, a 2013 report by John Lewis Pet Insurance, which looked at 50,000 cat and dog names, found that the top 10 pet names were also among the 70 most popular baby names.

Giving our pets human names may speak to how we regard our cats and dogs as part of the family. However, the names can also often be a nod to popular culture.

For example, Bella has topped the list of most popular female dog and cat names — in addition to being a top baby name — for years, which Toni Perling, founder of, attributes to the popularity of the “Twilight” series.

Other common pet names have been inspired by hit books and movies, including Simba, Luna, Winnie, Mickey and Minnie.

Names may also reflect larger cultural trends, according to VetStreet, just like the 1960s counterculture increased names like Flower and Peace.
The names of actors, sports figures and other public figures also make popular pet names.

“Owners who name their pets after a public figure tend to want that constant reminder and connection,” Steven May, editor of The Daily Growl, told VetStreet.

This could account for the increasing number of canines and felines with names like Elvis, Kobe and Jeter.

Take a look at the most popular cat and dog names, and you’ll find plenty of name overlap.

Veterinary Pet Insurance analyzed a national database of 75,000 insured cats and created a graphic of the most popular names by state (above). Compare this to the infographic below, and you’ll see that Max, Charlie, Bella and Lucy top the list for both cats and dogs.

Just how influential are pet names?

In 2009, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigated whether a cat’s name made it more or less adoptable.

In the study, cats were assigned names from one of four categories: popular baby names, pop culture names, traditional cat names and serial numbers.

Participants then rated the cats on their health, playfulness, friendliness, ease of adaption to a new home, and ability to attract potential adopters — based only on a photo and a name.

Each cat’s picture was paired with every possible name and serial number four times throughout the study.

What did they find? The cats’ names had no significant effect on their “desirability.”

In other words, while studies of people names have found they can strongly influence first impressions, the same doesn’t seem to hold true for animals.

Below, check out 2014’s most popular dog names.

dog names infographic

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Popular pet names offer cultural snapshot
Take a look at some of today's most popular cat and dog names. What you'll find often reveals more about the human than it does the pet.