The Open Cat Name Project

Four unique cat names, picked just for you. No up-front cost, zero annual fees.

Wait… what the f*** is this?

Bob Mortimer is a British institution, like Marmite or Liverpool John Moores University. You may remember him from seminal works such as Shooting Stars and House of Fools, but his greatest contribution to society is arguably his cat naming service which has been running since 2013.

For a very reasonable £8 per year, Bob rents out an eclectic selection of cat names from the sublime (Kitchen Shitstorm) to the ridiculous (P.O Box 6). However, there are a couple of problems with this otherwise excellent service:

  1. Name scarcity: There’s only one Bob, and he can’t spend his whole life coming up with cat names, so they’re in limited supply. At the time of writing, Bob has created 126 unique cat names, but there are 7.4 million cats in the UK alone. Imagine the potential embarrassment when the vet calls for King Ali Shitty Shotty and two owners stand up… unthinkable horror.
  2. Recurring fees: You may be sitting there today, as pleased as Punch with your newly named kitten, Threat Level Tesco. £8 might seem affordable today, but nobody knows what the future will bring. Imagine your cat’s fifth birthday, when you can no longer afford the annual subscription and poor little Tesco has to give up her name and become a plain old Smudge or Tigger. I cry just thinking about it.

I was therefore compelled to create an alternative so that people who strive for a unique name — or those who simply don’t want to gamble their cat’s future on the Bank of England and Brexit — can name their cat without fear or favour.

How it works

The system uses Machine Intelligence, based on the TensorFlow software library, to create an open-source Recurrent Neural Network (RNN). This RNN has been trained to generate Bob-like cat names, using all 126 cat names that Bob has already published, plus selected works of William Shakespeare and Roger’s Profanisaurus to give it some vocabularic diversity.

Once trained, the system was left to run overnight, during which time it generated nearly 200 unique cat names. These names were then post-processed in PHP to improve spelling and semantic meaning.

The result is a set of open source cat names that hopefully channel the spirit of Bob’s original project, while bringing some much needed financial certainty to hard working families across our fair land.

I realise that these additional names don’t completely solve the issue of scarcity, so if this service becomes popular and you need any additional names, please let me know. The bot is ready, willing and able.

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