On The Day One Was Born
The formal names of Fleurette and Flambelle are like most names, merely a guess at the genuine qualities of child or puppy or kitten which are still latent and not manifest. Flambelle acquired her nickname first. Her formal name is bad French, "beautiful flame" is masculine, Flambeau, but inappropriate to a female kitten.
Things like gender in language really matter, for despite the aptness of Beautiful Flame to a equally black and white pied tabby, who never stopped moving and, literally, never slept until she was spayed, the name never really took hold, in part because it is bad French, and feels like it, subliminally, in the ear. She is now known as Peeper, a nickname she acquired from her first vocalizations, which sounded exactly like those of a turtledove.
Fleurette (which is good French) has kept her formal name more surely, though she rapidly expanded from a Little Flower to a large one. We had to bring in the Weight Control catfood before she even reached full maturity. I sometimes call her squeaker, because her vocalization is a plaintive little mouse squeak coming out of a large black mountain.
I like having multiple cats. It gives them a cat life as well as a pet life and makes their characters more interesting. When I met Mrs. Claus, she had a mature black male named Wraith, who grew up with a second cat of Mrs. Claus' and outlived it. Wraith became my buddy, and I use that term exactly, as he moved into his gentlemanly old age.
From close contact with him I learned to read the subtleties of attitude in Felix Domesticus and translate them freely into English. When you do it sounds silly, but it is perfectly apt, and captures nuances of relationship which any cat owner will recognize. To Wraith I was always Big Buddy Man, and he had, unusually for cats, a quite distinct perception of me as not only male, which animals can smell, but as a male "non-cat".
Mrs. Claus, however, was Mommy Female, for though Wraith recognized, and gave his approval, to our intimate companionship as "non-cats", he was weaned too early and remained Mrs. Claus' kitten until his last illness and death. One of Wraith's favorite things all the way into old age was to suckle the collars of Mrs. Claus' t-shirts.
Fleurette and Peeper do not quite have the same sense of human beings as "non-cats". To them I am Big Male, Mrs. Claus is Big Mommy, the three of them together in bed are The Nest, and the four of us are The Pride, and the Littles will not trespass on Big Male's half of The Nest when He is in it.
A group of cats is apparently a Clowder in English, and, perhaps, also a Clutter, but I recognize neither of these words, and I presume you don't either, so The Pride will have to do.
They have unspoken names for each other, as well, in their jealous interrelationship for their food and our affection. For they are Rivals mostly, and only occasionally Littermates. Fleurette is the dominant, from size and temper, and Peeper's name for her is Lazy Bully Fat Lump. Peeper gets the complement returned as Scruffy Runty Rival.
They are also terrified by the penetration of the Territory by Rival Bigs (such as the gas meter reader), though Peeper is quite brave and will actually stay, cautiously, in their presence if Our Bigs are comfortable with the Rivals. Rival Bigs are a threat, because they might capture Our Bigs and take them away. They remember when this actually happened once and Big Rival Mommy kidnapped Our Bigs for several days when she came daily to give them food and water.
It was a very nice trip for Mrs. Claus and I, and her friend Shelby was a trooper for lightly catsitting for us, but the Littles were petrified in the belief that they were defenseless without the Bigs of the Pride.
So those are my friends with whom I celebrate my nativity today, and I am grateful for them. For though we all face Death alone, it is tragic to so face Life. I have also significantly passed the half century mark, which means that what I really have to celebrate in a birthday is that I made it this far. When young, as most do, I never saw the tragedy of solitude and spent more hours, days, and years alone than I spent in the company of family or friends.