Professional Development
AI / Lifestyle / Social media

These adoptable floofs at Morris Animal Refuge have AI-generated names

Denver researcher Janelle Shane used artificial intelligence to name soon-to-be-pets at the Washington West shelter. Meet the inaugural class of the net's most tech-friendly kittens.

SPARKY BUTTONS. (Courtesy photo)

Washington West’s Morris Animal Refuge is once again using algorithms for pet names: After 2017’s success naming guinea pigs, the shelter has re-invited artificial intelligence software to name animals in need of a home.

This time, Denver-based researcher Janelle Shane, the idea woman behind the neural net naming, decided to bequeath her bot names to kittens. She was initially approached for cat names by Florida shelter AFK Cat Rescue last year after her success with guinea pigs. However, she said, the program delivered many inappropriate and nonsensical names, and many were unusable for the shelter.

Shane decided to revisit the program this year with a more complex software. Her original algorithm received 8,000 cat names with no context, and the program didn’t understand what letters made sense and what words shouldn’t be put together.

“That algorithm starts as a blank slate, so it doesn’t have any prior knowledge added in,” Shane said. “I trained it from scratch on my own computer.”

Instead, she used the algorithm GPT-2 with a software from artificial intelligence research company Open AI that knows what phrases and letter combos to avoid — for the most part. (This attempt suggested naming a cat Kill All Humans.) The program returned a few thousand names and the results were, well, adorable.

Shane said she enjoys the entertainment of neural net cat naming and helping out animal shelters across the country.

“It’s kind of a sideways mirror on our world,” Shane said. “It’s taking cat names and the internet and mushing them together and throwing them back at me and that’s really fun to see.”

Morris got local news’ attention earlier this year for the social media prowl-ess (sorry) of Social Media and Outreach Coordinator Dan Solomon, and we bet the above Twitter thread is cementing that reputation among Morris’ 10,800+ followers.

Without further ado, meet the inaugural class of the net’s most tech-friendly kitties. Here’s to more floofs finding their furever homes (omg sorry).

(All photos come courtesy of Morris Animal Refuge.)


Beep Boop (Snow)

Beep Boop: The absolute queen of nose boops. Also, possible robot.


Pompompur: Your cheerleader through every step of life. Can substitute for a pom-pom if necessary.

This Guy (Woof)

This Guy: Who has two pretty green eyes and needs a loving home? This guy.


Whiskeridoo: Makes a mean scrambled egg. Please do not confuse him for a kitchen utensil.

Mr. Sinister

Mr. Sinister: Dark evildoer. Possibly plotting your demise. Don’t trust the sweet face. (P.S. Mr. S was adopted earlier today thanks to the twitter thread that featured these names!)

Sparky Buttons

Sparky Buttons: Don’t push his buttons. It’s in the name.


Starmaker: Astrologist-in-training. Can see the future. Always travels with a deck of tarot cards.

Tom Glitter

Tom Glitter: Of house Targaryn, first of his name, breaker of chains, King of the Andals and the First Men … oh wait, that’s Daenerys. But says there’s one or fewer people in the U.S. named Tom Glitter, a perfect blank slate for many titles to come.


Honorable mentions not given to a cat include M. Tinklesby Linklater Soap, Peanutbutterjiggles, Deadbolt and Thelonious Monsieur. Luckily, Morris HQ on 13th and Lombard streets has plenty of furry friends for you and the internet to name. Most of the kittens are currently up for adoption at Morris’ Center City PetSmart adoption spot at 1122 Chestnut St., while This Guy and Beep Boop are at the main center, Solomon told us.


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