Moggie Monikers and Hound Handles

What's your pet called?

Choosing a name for your cat or dog can be a hard decision, and Britain's pets are saddled with some fanciful or downright strange monikers. Yet popular names seem to endure, as a study of over 16,000 pet insurance polices by AA Pet Insurance has discovered.

Cartoon characters, favourite tipples, and pop or sports stars all feature in the top 100 although certain names always turn up in the top 10.

Joanne Guillan, who looks after the AA's Pet Insurance portfolio, says that exploring pet names brings up both the obvious and inspiring: "But really it doesn't matter what you call your pet. He or she will be an important member of the family, bringing laughter and sometimes tears, but always adding to the richness of life."

But how do your choose your pet's name? Joanne points out that appearance might have something to do with many favourite names. "Names like Scruffy, Smudge, Stripey, Boots, Socks or Sox, or perhaps Snowy, Ebony or Blackie give strong clues," she says.

Joanne adds: "Children's names remain a popular influence too, with Lily, Ella, Jack, Alfie, Charlie, Ben and Holly all in the top 20 both for babies* and pets."

Mine's a pint – or a dram?

Drinks are a strong influence in the name game. Guinness and Ruddles, both favourite pints, vie with other alcoholic beverages such as Islay, Bowmore, Jamieson, Jack Daniels, Drambuie, schnapps, Merlot and even Tia Maria.

My pet's a star!

The King of rock and roll still inspires with both Elvis and Presley firmly among the top 100 dog names. Also popular are Chesney, Tyson, Posh and Becks, Woody and Kylie. Del and Rodney (from 'Only Fools and Horses') live on as cat names, and there are plenty of dogs and cats called Wallace or Gromit. One lucky moggie is named after Bagheera, the black Indian Leopard in 'The Jungle Book', while 'The Hobbit' inspired one owner to name their pet Bilbo Baggins.

Tasty or tasteful?

Food names features among the top 100 choices, including Marmite, Fudge, Snickers, Branston, Toffee, Treacle and even Haggis.

Pet culture!

Historical and literary figures represent some of the more unusual names given to cats and dogs. There are, for instance, Boudica, a Celtic queen; Bolivar, a Latin American rebel; Zorro, the fictional masked hero of Spanish California; and philosopher Bertrand Russell.

But AA Pet Insurance reveals that some of the 2010 top 10 cat and dog names have endured from year to year. Molly is, for the second year running, the top name for both cats and dogs. Charlie, Poppy and Max also remain popular for both breeds, while Smudge and Tigger have replaced Lilly and Archie in the top 10 cat names. Names that have dropped down the list since 2008 include Gizmo and Jasper for cats, and Jake, Barney and Buster for dogs.

Says Joanne: "Some names may not be especially clever but they do go to show the affection Brits have for their pets. Of course, the important thing to remember is that cats and dogs are just as prone to accidents and illness as we humans and they need looking after.

"There's no NHS for the canine and feline kingdoms, so arranging good insurance should be a priority."

Top 10 pet names according to AA Pet Insurance

Dog names
1 Molly 1 -
2 Charlie 2 2
3 Poppy 10 6
4 Alfie 4 3
5 Max 3 1
6 Holly 6 9
7 Millie - -
8 Daisy 8 -
9 Jack 9 5
10 Oscar - -
Cat names
1 Molly 1 9
2 Poppy 3 8
3 Smudge - 10
4 Tigger - 3
5 Charlie 2 1
6 Max 4 5
7 Tilly - -
8 Millie - 6
9 Sooty - -
10 Oscar - -

* According to top baby names 2009 from National Statistics.