thanks yas for a good start...
i adapted your code by looking here:
and ended up with this working fx:
$request = $wpdb->get_var("SELECT cat_ID FROM $wpdb->categories WHERE cat_name = '$catname' ");
$stickyid = get_catid('sticky');
i do think such a thing should be included in the main
in_category() fx... it can check if it is passed numbers and if not do a quick lookup using this kind of function... seemlessly handling both names and id's...
i can hack and contribute this, if noone else is working on it... just need to figure out how to do that contribution thing around here (a bit new to the community)