Our Niven is named for the author Larry Niven, one of my favorite authors, and probably best known for his " known space " universe.

Among his best know creations are the Ringworld, Pierson's Puppeteers, and the Kzin.

And, while the Kzin are a catlike alien species, that isn't why he's named Niven.

He was almost named after Robert Heinlein, but that's harder to pronounce.