“I’ve been reading a ton of all the beat poets’ early stuff,” said the remarkably sophisticated second-year university student. “I guess I was drawn to the idea that they were really searching for something, but they didn’t always know what. And the first day the cat was home, he started playing with a laser pointer, and I saw the way he just went after what he wanted, even if there was nothing there, and it just really clicked for me.”
Broader cultural references also played into Wendcott’s completely unanticipated, yet perfectly appropriate name choice. “I got thinking about how people in ’50 and ‘60’s subculture used to refer to each other as “cats,” and it was just like, ‘okay, let’s do this.’”
While more obscure names first caught his attention, Wendcott, who is wise beyond his years, veered away from names with too little household recognition. “I knew I wanted to go with a mid-century rebel figure, and first I thought of William S. Burroughs, I don’t know if you know him? He wrote this amazing book called Naked Lunch, and obviously cats are naked all the time, so I was like, well duh.“
However, after ruefully accepting the fact that some people don’t know who William S. Burroughs is, Wendcott settled on Kerouac instead. “I don’t want to make anybody feel ignorant if they don’t recognize the name, but I think people have become very aware of Kerouac after the movie of On the Road came out, so I think it’s a kind of a cool choice because of that.”
Kerouac is not the first of Wendcott’s pets to receive a name that is both intellectual and undeniably brilliant, following a goldfish he got in high school named Holden Caulfield, a middle school gerbil named [F. Scott] Fitz[gerald], and a childhood bunny rabbit he named Velveteen, which may or may not have been real.
UPDATE: At press time, following the kitten’s first experience with catnip, Wendcott had changed the name to “Gonzo,” after this amazing writer you may have heard of called Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote a lot about drug use.