This is my good friend Bozo. He was a neighbor for many years, and not only does he look a lot like Bart, he has some of the same idiosyncrasies. For example, Bart insisted on drinking water out of a dripping water faucet – so does Bozo. I have never known any other cat that does this although I’m sure there are few others. We used to get calls from the city that we had a water leak, but it was simply that Bart insisted we leave a steady stream of water running for him in the bathroom. Bozo’s mom turns it on and off for him. (she has better boundaries than we did)
And Bozo was Bart’s only friend. One day I spotted the two of them sunning together at on a vacant front porch. Had Bart seen me, he would have instantly turned on Bozo and the 19 year old warrior would have tried to have a brawl with the surprised younger and stronger kitty. Bozo has a sweeter nature than Bart did. This is where they weren’t alike. In fact in the photo of him here, he’s asking me to rub his tummy- something Bart would never allow.
When I first met Bozo, I was a little put off by his name. Who names their cat Bozo? Typically we name our animal friends with a nice noble-sounding name, and then proceed to use a variety of nicknames instead. Those of us who love our animals are reduced to puddles of love when it comes to our animal friends and silly nicknames come with that connection.
So I was really surprised that this wonderful mom who is Bozo’s human would choose such an odd name for such a great cat. She’s a writer for several of our local newspapers and asked me one day if I would interested in an interview. In preparation for the article, she wanted me to talk with Bozo – get an idea of how animal communication works, and learn a bit about his thoughts.
One of her questions was: “Do you want to be called ‘Uno’ or ‘Bozo'”? His given name was Uno, and I was anxious to find out the answer to this too as I had been calling him “Zo” for over a year. I couldn’t bring myself to call him Bozo.
I was surprised by his answer. He told me that he preferred the name Bozo. He told me proudly: “I like the name Bozo. That’s my name!” It was then that I realized that *I* was the one who needed the reality check. Bozo is a cat. He has no idea of the connotations of his name. He doesn’t know who Bozo the Clown is. He’s a cat who likes the sound of his name when humans address him. He’s proud of it.
A friend of Bozo’s mom had nicknamed him. He was flattered and felt very loved by this human. It brought a special connection between them and he liked the name Bozo better and wanted all humans to call him by this name.
Right away I felt what a snob I had been. Here I was feeling all defensive for him, when in reality he loved the feel and sound of his name. And to this day, I have never called anything but the name he prefers.
It’s a good lesson for us all. Animals are wise beyond what humans realize. And they’re not judgmental. We all have spirit names too. Animals and humans. We’re rarely given that name once we’re in a body. An example though is my good friend Zeke. He asked while in spirit that when he came into a body that he retain his spirit name. We all agreed. His name fits him and he loves it.
Now I often cat-sit for Bozo when mom goes on vacation. We have a great time and I look forward to spending time with this little sage, who taught me such a huge lesson.