Atticus: the name, the man


In the comments to my original post about Atticus, Scand asked me to speak about why I have all-male pets, as feminist. She also asked why I gave Atticus the name I did. So I thought I'd answer those things:

The all-male pet thing has been almost purely coincidental. We were looking for a female dog, and I was skeptical about getting a male dog, when we got Chance. However, I loved Chance on site, so I got over my gender preference. The rescue person from whom we adopted Chance also told us that male dogs are harder to get adopted out than are female dogs, so for me, that's one more reason to consider male dogs. With Leo, we were attracted to him due to his breed makeup and personality, his gender was really an afterthought. Also, both Chance and Leo were altered when we got them, which I guess effects the "maleness" of the personality. In Leo's case, I doubt it made much difference, I'd wager that he was always gentle. In Chance's case, he may have been a real problem had he not been neutered (and I believe he was neutered early on). In any case, I wouldn't consider having a non-altered male dog (but I wouldn't consider having any non-altered pet, so I guess that's sort of neither here nor there).

With Atticus, I didn't even know what his gender was until after I'd decided to adopt him. The tag just said his name was "Sam," which could have gone either way, and you can't tell by looking at him (at least not without a closer inspection than I was willing to perform in Petsmart). I've heard male cats are actually more friendly and less mean-spirited than female cats, but at Atticus' age, I doubt there would be any difference even if that were true. So again, it was pretty much a coincidence that I found a cat that I was draw to and that cat happened to be male.

Mostly, the truth of it is that I don't really think of my pets as gendered at all. It just doesn't really occur to me.

The bigger question, I think, and one that I will try to remember to address here at some point, is why I, as a feminist, am so attracted to "aggressive," stereotypically male breeds of dogs. But that is a whole other discussion.

Atticus is named after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I decided a couple of years back, after watching a dog show, that I wanted to get a beagle and name it Atticus Finch. It just seemed like a great beagle name. However, I then learned a bit about beagles and realized that I will never get one (they have a totally wrong personality for my type of lifestyle, and it's sort of mean to get just one, as they are quintessential pack dogs). So I decided I'd hold on to the name for a cat, since it has the added benefit of working with the nickname "Atticus Catticus," which I think is hysterical (I also named a stray neighborhood cat in our old neighborhood Purrsephone, so you see how my tiny brain works here). Mark doesn't like the name much, but he'll live with it.

Incidentally, I also really like Atticus for a child's name, but it's one of those names I like but wouldn't ever actually saddle a kid with, so it's perfect for the cat.


Yay, i was right about where the name came from! :) Funny how it is male dogs and female cats that are harder to rehome, though - especially since the usual stereotypes of the animals in question are linked to those genders. I think the choice is just about our personalities - i like female cats, with all the stroppiness and so on that this entails, but then i also admire women who have some of those characteristics more than i should.

PS i used to know some people who called their cat 'Oedipuss', so you're in good company.

I love Atticus Catticus. That's too great. Now I want a kitten. Again.

My dad-in-law speaks fondly of a cat that a college dormmate illegally owned called "Entropy". I think that name is hilarious for a cat.

Oh, yeah, and thanks for responding to my questions in such detail. A whole post, even!

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