Why Do Singaporeans Name Their Pets After Food?
Top image: Jiawei Chen / Unsplash

Ever met a cat named ‘Jun Hao’? In other countries, there is a trend of pet owners giving their pets human names. In Singapore? Not so much. If you ask any Singaporean pet owner, chances are their furbabies have food names such as Oreo, Tofu, or Cookie.

Whether it’s a symptom of cute aggression or just a lack of creativity, the food names are here to stay. These Singaporean pet owners tell us the story behind their pets’ delectable names.

“My dogs’ names are Honey and Whisky. 

My family wanted a sweet name that wasn’t too common. Since one of our dogs’ fur is sable orange, we thought the name ‘Honey’ would be quite befitting. My other dog is called ‘Whisky’ because it’s my father’s favourite liquor and the colour of the drink fits its darker coat colour. Plus, my family’s surname is Lim (Hokkien for ‘drink’), we thought it would be quite funny to name both of them after different beverages. 

I think it’s nice to have less basic names for your pets. Otherwise, it might be confusing at the dog park if there are other dogs with the same names. I believe that this same logic applies when naming your kids too.”

– Shanyce

Whisky (left) and Honey (right). (Image: courtesy of Shanyce)

“My cat’s name is Pepper. 

She was almost named ‘Socks’ because she looked like she had white socks, but my family wanted a two-syllable name. When we first got her in 2019, we started joking around and wanted to call her ‘Peppa’–like Peppa Pig–because it was the Year of the Pig. We eventually decided on Pepper because she’s grey and it’s probably better than naming her after a British pig.

Honestly, food names are pretty cute. Sometimes pets are named after the food the owners love or the specific food that its fur colour resembles. If I had a black cat, I would love to name it ‘Pulut Hitam’.”

– Elena

Pepper. (Image: courtesy of Elena)

“My family named our guinea pig Latte.

When we got him, we found him really unique because he was the only guinea pig with no different-coloured patches on him. He was fully covered in brown fur with only a single patch of white hair at the top of his head. It reminded us of latte art.”

– Mia

Latte. (Image: courtesy of Mia)

“Meet my cat Cinnamon.

I know that she doesn’t look like a ‘Cinnamon’, but hear me out. My mother used to have a cat named ‘Ginger’, but it passed away when she was still young. She decided that she wanted to have another cat when she grew up and name it after a spice.

I think pet owners like to name their pets after food because it sounds cute, it’s common, and easy to remember.”

– Ruth

Cinnamon. (Image: courtesy of Ruth)

“This is Boba.

We actually didn’t choose his name. When we adopted him, we didn’t want to change his name. His previous owners really liked bubble tea and named their rabbits ‘Boba’ and ‘Sugar’, but we only adopted Boba.

Personally, I’d prefer more unique names for pets, but if a basic name suits them best then it is what it is.”

– Erika

Boba. (Image: courtesy of Erika)

“Meet Gin and Chai. 

Chai is the mother of Gin. We chose the name ‘Gin’ because it wasn’t too common and it suited her face rather well. Chai was originally named ‘Sweetie’ by her foster parent, but we didn’t like it, so my mother called her 招财猫 (Chinese for ‘beckoning cat’) instead. We eventually settled on ‘Chai’ since she is such a pretty cat, and it goes well with the beverage theme we had in mind! 

I don’t think their names are that common since I’ve yet to encounter another pet named Gin or Chai within my social circle.” 

– Charmaine

Gin (top) and Chai (bottom). (Image: courtesy of Charmaine)

“This is Wasabi.

My family and I didn’t actually choose (or change) his name when we first adopted him. My cousin actually first adopted him to save him from being put down. However, she didn’t have space in her home, so we decided to bring Wasabi home instead!

We do call him ‘Sabi’ for short–it makes it easier to scold him when he’s being naughty.”

– Tricia

Wasabi. (Image: courtesy of Tricia)

“I named my dog Katsu.

My family couldn’t decide what to name him at first and my father wanted to give a ridiculous name like ‘Lollipop’. Meanwhile, my mother wanted to name him ‘Bak Chor’ (Hokkien for ‘minced meat’). No way I was letting that happen. And for some particular reason, I thought of pork. And because my family likes Japanese food, I pitched the idea of Katsu and everybody liked it.”

– Bryan

(Katsu. Image: Courtesy of Bryan)

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