Cats have long been associated with royalty, as any cat will happily make clear. So it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular names for cats over the last century has been Princess.
That’s just one of the findings in a recent study of pet names, based on a survey of domestic animals who have been buried in the country’s oldest pet cemetery, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester County, New York. Researchers from FirstVet, a global veterinary telehealth service, analyzed more than 25,000 name records from animals interred starting in 1905.
“At FirstVet, we’re fascinated by the relationships between owners and their animals, and the naming of pets by humans is one of the key elements of animals being viewed as companions and family members by people,” says Gabriel Corredor, U.S. country manager for FirstVet. “It’s only through a uniquely substantial resource such as Hartsdale’s records that we can start to glean ideas about trends and statistics in modern pet names.”
Of course, the results come with a variety of caveats. First, given the millions of pets in the United States. over the past 115 years, 25,000 may not be especially representative. Second, even today, most cats and dogs aren’t buried; those that were a century ago almost certainly came from more affluent socio-economic groups, and the names they chose also may not be all that representative.
Still, naming animals has been a human tradition for almost as long as we’ve kept pets, says Gabriel, citing archaeological research showing that Egyptians may have named their cats as early as 10 centuries before the birth of Christ. So the Hartsdale results do shed some light on what we call our cats and why we choose those names:
Read Next: These Are the Best Cat Breeds For Families