Name That Cat: What Breed Should OS 10.7 Be?

OS X Liger?

OS X Liger?

Now that Snow Leopard is on the prowl, thoughts turn to what Mac OS 10.7 might be called.

When it was announced that Mac OS 10.6 would be christened “Snow Leopard,” there was some speculation that Apple was running out of big cat names for its OS X versions. OS X 10.1 was Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, and 10.6 is Snow Leopard.

More likely is that Apple wanted to emphasize that 10.6 would not be a major new features upgrade (hence the relatively modest price of $29.95), but rather pretty much a code-slimming and streamlining revision of OS 10.5 Leopard, with Power PC support excised. That would make a name somewhat similar to OS 10.5 logical (although the Snow Leopard is actually a completely different species from Leopard).

There’s no danger of Apple running out of cat names anytime soon. According to one wild cat species resource site, there are 36 distinct species of non-domestic cats, although some are concededly so obscure that they wouldn’t be suitable for an operating system moniker (Jaguarundi, anyone?).

One cat name I like is Cougar, although an objection might be that it’s a synonym for Puma, which has already been used for OS 10.1, but then so is Panther in its North American context. The largest wild cat species on this continent is variously known as Cougar, Puma, Mountain Lion, Panther, Painter, and Catamount plus reportedly several dozen other less-widely used names that have been recorded across North and South America.

If Apple wanted a particularly exotic variant, they might consider Eastern Cougar, referencing cats some contend still range in small numbers east of the Mississippi River in the U.S., and Canada — an assertion that remains to be scientifically verified.

Perhaps the most likely not-yet-used for an OS X version would be Cheetah, with the positive association of being the fastest animal on the planet. Running flat out, the fastest horses might hit about 43 miles per hour, while a cheetah can touch 70 MPH in short bursts. Earlier this month a cheetah named Sarah, whose home is the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, broke the world cheetah speed record in the 100-meter dash , covering the distance in 6.16 seconds — .06 seconds off the previous record set in 2001 by a cheetah living in South Africa.

Other Mac OS name candidates would be Ocelot, a primarily South and Central American cat that also ranges into Mexico and as far north as Texas, and the medium-sized North American Lynx and Bobcat. There’s Wildcat too, a name used by Grumman for a World War II vintage naval fighter aircraft, and of course “the king of beasts” — Lion, which for some reason hasn’t been used on an OS X version yet.

Still plenty of cat names to chose from. What’s your preference for OS 10.7?

Photo courtesy of allwest44.

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