I’ve had like 10-11 cats in my time, so I am an old pro at picking names. I always went for the really obvious ones, like Buttons, Precious, Cupcake, Cuddles, Muffin, Sweep (that was a kind of weird one), Dusty, and Molly (that’s all I can remember right now). They were not exactly viking names for cats, and they didn’t strike fear in their enemies. Although trust me, Sweep could have taken on any Viking army and won. I don’t currently have any cats. I do have an Irish Wolf Hound. Although he does not have a viking name, they were actually spoken of in the viking sagas.
But we aren’t here to talk about dogs. We are going to talk about viking names for cats, or norse names for cats. These can be your everyday domestic house cat, or maybe an exotic pet like a tiger or lion. No matter the size, these cool little creatures can take on a unique name inspired by the people of the old north.
The Vikings Kept Cats as Pets
It might be hard to imagine a viking going off to battle and asking someone to feed his cat, but it likely happened. Keeping domestic animals was just as important to the early norse people as it is to many of us today. There is talk of the vikings even taking cats on the boats with them to control rodent populations. Of course, cats have made their way into the myth and magic of the old norse world view. This isn’t surprising considering cats have been revered the world over, including ancient Egypt.
The saga literature, as well as carvings from the viking age tell us that dogs and cats were popular household animals. Animal companionship goes back thousands of years. We don’t have any mentions that I know of detailing viking names for cats, but the Vikings were pretty creative when it came to giving nicknames, and many would provide a perfect name for your new furry friend.
Stay Tuned for Viking Inspiration
We will take a look at what kind of cats were around during the viking age, and what information we have to suggest their importance in the household. If you have recently adopted a kitty and want a ferocious name for your little beastie then stick around while we consider norse cat names. You may even want to choose some of your favourite viking names for cats.
Nordic Cat Names Inspired by the Gods
The most obvious might be to choose a name from the Gods. Based on your cat’s personality you might want a rough and tumble name like Thor, the god of thunder, or perhaps your little cat is more wise than tough. In that case you might choose to name them Mimir, after the Aesir god of wisdom. A norse animal name I have seen quite a bit has been Loki, taken from the trickster god. Some female cat names might come from some of the well known feminine gods. The fertility goddess Freyja is of course associated with cats.
Freyja (Freya) and her Skogkatt
If you have some knowledge of the norse gods then you’ve likely heard of Freyja. She is the norse god of fertility, but also the goddess of love and luck. She is said to have ridden around on a chariot that was pulled by cats. You’ve got to be a pretty big kitty to pull Freyja’s chariot. These weren’t your ordinary house cats. Freyja was said to be pulled by skogkatt (the Norwegian forest cat). If you haven’t seen this breed before I will give you a few minutes to go google them. They are gorgeous cats that are much larger and stronger than a typical house cat. Though they are not likely to be able to pull a chariot. This gives us an idea of the magical realm and the cats inclusion into it.
How Important were Cats to the Vikings?
The association with Freyja might come from her being the goddess of luck and love. Cats are thought to be as unpredictable as life itself. Therefore people were expected to treat them kindly. The vikings had domesticated cats living in their homes, and it is believed that showing favour to them, might get you some in return from Freyja.
Despite Freyja’s affection for felines, they were not always safe. Cats were used in rituals and their furs were used in clothing, and to line gloves and other items. It seems like the vikings were just really practical people. Norse mythology tells us about cats being used in rituals, but also of their companionship, and use as working animals. Just like a barn cat today, it would have been necessary to keep cats to control the rodent population on a farm.
Kitty-Kat Accounts in the Saga Literature
They are also said to appear as a spirit animal to the seeresses. These were women who were thought to interpret the will of the Gods. In the Saga of Erik the Red we are given the description of a seeress who is adorned with beautiful clothing. She is said to wear a hood made with lambskin, but lined with white cat fur. The seeress is also described as wearing gloves lined with white cat fur. She would travel from town to town, telling people of their fate. It is obvious that she was an important member of the society. The saga continues by saying that all creatures found in the area were cooked for her. Does this mean they ate cats? Well…maybe. Winters were pretty harsh, and I’ve seen some meaty cats.
New Name Old Viking
If you don’t want to choose a god, then maybe just your favourite viking? One viking that we are all probably familiar with here in North America is Leif Erikson. He was the Greenland viking who made his way to Newfoundland where he set up a camp, and explored the area. His name means “beloved”, which is purrfect for your new pet.
Old Norse Names for Animals
We don’t have any records (that I know of) that give us an indication of names the vikings might have given to their pets. We do, however, have lots of information about animals that were important in norse myths, or norse history, and these popular names will offer lots of inspiration for a new cat owner.
It could be cool to name your feline friend after one of the mythical creatures that belong to the viking worldview. For instance Orm means serpent, and with know the midgard serpent sits there chewing on the roots of Yggdrasil (for some information on Yggdrasil check out this post on the World Tree). Wolves were also important, so there is the option of simply choosing the Old Norse word for Wolf which is Ulf. Or you might want a badass name like Fenir, the wolf child of Loki who is destined to fight the Aesir during Ragnarok.
If your kitty is ferocious then maybe Bjorn will be a great name. Though we don’t advocate for pet bears, their name can certainly sound pretty cool on your little beastie.
Male Viking Cat Names
Ok, so if you want to think about what names would be better suited for a boy or a girl, let’s look at them individually. Obviously you can start by dividing them up by the gods. We have Odin, the All Father, whose names always strikes fear in those around him. If the meaning of the name is important to you then lets look at some words from the nordic region that might interest you.
Gunnar – This name means “he who can stand alone” and might be fitting for a kitty who lives alone.
Ragnar – You might be familiar with this name from the TV show Vikings. But that show was based on the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, and Ragnar was a real guy. So the pop culture fans in the room might like this one.
Magnus – This is an interesting one to me. I once wrote a Master’s thesis on St. Magnus of Orkney. He was a Norweigan saint that kind of popped up after the viking period. But he was venerated in Iceland, Norway, and into the northern parts of Scotland where the vikings had invaded and settled.
Female Viking Cat Names
Again, we have some of the big suggestions like Freyja (sometimes misspelled Freya) but that’s the same chick.
Astrid – Maybe you have some kiddos at home that get to decide on a name. They might be familiar with “How to Train Your Dragon” which popularized this name. It’s a very feminine sounding name that still has an edge.
Gunhilda – This is an oldie but a goodie. You’ll come across this name in the saga literature.
Jord – If you are looking for strong names then you might consider Jord. She was the mother of Thor.
Siv – Keeping in the family of Thor, you might also want to consider his wife. Siv was known for her beautiful hair which was said to be golden in color. So perhaps if you have a fair haired little kitty you might want to choose norse cat names that reflect their features.
Creativity is Encouraged
Norse cat names can be created using inspiration from any popular norse name, and an activity they like. Vikings usually had weird nicknames, like “Erik the Red”, or “Harold Bluetooth”. You might want to combine something silly to make your own name that reflects your pet cats personality.
Siv the house bear – Maybe your furry friend is beautiful, but ferocious.
Freyja the wide-minded – Wise-minded is a compliment that is found quite often in the saga literature when it describes females that are held in high regard.
If it’s a boy cat you’re dealing with, then maybe something more descriptive:
Gunnar the mountain shitter – “Mountain Shitter” is actually the nickname I did see for a viking while reading documents years ago.
It’s an Endless List! There are No Rules.
The list is essentially endless. You can mix and match, blend, or simply make something up. The vikings had lots of cool names, but choosing one that suits the personality of your new critter is personal and should be something that brings a smile to your face. If you have come up with something unique for your new addiction, leave a comment and tell us!