“Ever notice that sometimes people give really awful cat gifts?” a friend said to me recently.
We were staring at a large cat food dish that somebody had foisted upon her. It was one of the ugliest cat-oriented objects I had ever seen — with whiskers and popped-out eyes attached to its “face” by springs, like the ones you see on joke glasses.
She wanted to make that bowl disappear very badly. So it came home with me as a donation to the Northeast Abyssinian and Somali Rescue holiday auction.
The bowl never made it out of my yard, however. Another friend came to pick up the auction items. We looked at the monstrosity, looked at each other and accidentally on purpose dropped it into my trash can.
Moral of the story: Just because an item has a cat on it doesn’t mean it’s a good gift for someone who likes cats. Don’t be the person who gives the ugly cat bowl.
Here are 5 quick tips for those of you with cat people on your list:
1. Don’t Give Someone a Cat as a Gift
It’s tempting to give a cat or kitten to a pet-less friend during the holidays. Don’t do it. Your kindly well-meant gesture could go horribly wrong.
“Too many of the pets who are given as surprise ‘gifts’ in December end up in shelters before the first spring thaw and sometimes as early as right after the new year,” warns cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett.
“People often make the mistake of thinking that a cat would be a good gift because of the impression that they’re low maintenance,” she says. “As a result, the cat may end up lonely and may not receive enough enrichment to truly thrive.”
I have friends who’ve made the conscious decision not to have cats in their lives anymore. They don’t want the responsibility. Or they just can’t face going through the love-and-loss cycle anymore. Either way, there’s no budging them on this point.
2. Think Comfort, Catnip and Cat Toys
Your friend may not need any more kitty knickknacks and pictures, but a nice gift for the felines-in-residence is always appreciated.
Years ago, when my mother’s old boss came to see our new house, she brought homemade shortbread…and colorful collars for our kittens, Cricket and Kilah. Perhaps an odd gift combination, but thoughtful nonetheless.
Consider these ideas:
- A case of fancy cat food
- A nice flannel Snugglesack (the Siamese Rescue Center sells them online, and kittens love burrowing in them)
- A gift certificate to any store that caters to all things 4-footed — most cat people I know have multiple cats, so this gift makes them do a happy dance
3. Commission a Pet Portrait
Sometimes a painting really does say it all. Even if the cat has since died, the painting will still bring a sort of joy with it.
Some of artist Sally Logue’s customers have admitted to crying upon first seeing her portraits of their lost felines. But they all seem to share the feelings of Rufus’s humans, who love the ginger cat’s portrait as “a constant reminder of what a character he was.”
Most of the animal artists I’ve known work from photos, so it’s easy enough to mail or email the pictures to them.
Don’t Miss: Create a Painted Pet Portrait in 5 Easy Steps
4. Donate to a Rescue in Your Friend’s Name
A “donation in someone’s honor with a Tribute Gift is a loving way to express your admiration while sharing your passion for protecting feral cats and kittens,” says Alley Cat Allies.
For a contribution of $15 or more, the organization will send the recipient a personal card and a 1-year complimentary subscription to the Alley Cat Action newsletter.
Most nonprofit cat rescue groups have variations on this arrangement. Check their websites.
5. Give Them a Story
A lot of wonderful cat books out there celebrate the human–feline bond, and these will always have a place on any cat lover’s bookshelf.
High on my list:
- Ingrid King’s Buckley’s Story (affiliate link)
- Linda Mohr’s Tatianna
- Cleveland Amory’s The Cat Who Came for Christmas trilogy
- Deric Longden’s The Cat Who Came in From the Cold, Enough to Make a Cat Laugh, and Paws in the Proceedings
They’re warm, heartfelt and, in Longden’s case, enough to make a cat person laugh.