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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


The season of gift giving is upon us. Are you going to include your cat?

The question of whether or not to buy presents for my pets always plagues me at this time of year. After all, they get everything they need on a day-to-day basis. But when possible, gift-giving shouldn’t really be about what we need, should it? I usually look to give that little something that could brighten up an otherwise routine day, and this could certainly apply to the cats in my life.

On the other hand, although I believe that cats understand a lot more than we give them credit for, I don’t really think this includes the religious or cultural significance of human holidays. So that concern aside, I’m left with worrying that they will somehow feel left out if they are not part of the celebrations. I’m sure this would apply to some cats, but mine tend to head for cover when anything unusual happens in the house. I can’t imagine they’d appreciate being dragged out of hiding just so that I could feel better about including them.

The more I think about it, the less I feel my pets need any "thing" for the holidays. What they lack most is my undivided attention. With family and work craziness, I’m afraid that more often than not my time with my cats gets limited to a butt scratch for Keelor while I’m filling food bowls, or a quick nuzzle for Vickie as I pluck her out of a basket of clean (but usually not folded) laundry. They’d probably like it if I would just sit down on the couch and spend some uninterrupted time with them. I’ve got to say that sounds like a pretty good gift to give myself as well.

If you are going to buy your cats presents, think about what they would most appreciate. It's probably not the goofy antler ears or the fancy food bowls. An elderly cat might really enjoy a heated cat bed. Is the chair by the window everyone’s favorite spot and a source of conflict in the feline family? How about fleece-covered windowsill perches for everyone?

The gift of health and safety shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Too many cats end up at the veterinary hospital this time of year. Ribbons and other types of strings seem like great toys, but they are so frequently eaten by pets that they have earned their own unique phrase in veterinary lingo — "linear foreign bodies." Surgery is usually needed to remove them and repair the damage they cause.

Watch out for all those extra electrical cords, too. Run them under carpets or behind furniture, or consider purchasing or making cord covers to protect your "chewer" from a potentially fatal shock. I think we can all agree that a holiday spent at the veterinary emergency center would be no fun for anyone.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Pic of the day: "Christmas 2007" by dierken

Comments  8

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  • Present of safety
    12/15/2010 10:07am

    I decided to take Dr. Khuly's advice and get collars and name tags for my herd of three cats. They are indoors only and microchipped but accidents happen. Collar and ID technology has come a long way since I last considered this. Much lighter breakaway collars available, and tags that go on the collar, not attached to it. So far my herd is tolerating this well. And it gives me a chance to display their temperaments. I have one angel, one devil, and one mystery cat.

  • 12/15/2010 11:28am

    I don’t buy my kitties any presents for Christmas, but they will most certainly receive some from our relatives and friends. In fact, I’ll also receive presents that look like or in some way involve cats! As I sit here typing this in just about every direction I look I see something that is cat-like. From the pillows to the throws, from the night lights to the lamps, from the picture frames to the knick knacks, from the coffee mugs to the clocks, my house is loaded with cat gifts for both me and the kitties.

    I can only assume that my friends and relatives think I am the crazy old cat lady. Oh, what I would give to get a sweater that doesn't have whiskers on it.....

  • 12/15/2010 03:28pm

    Mr. Kitty has not shown interest in toys for the last couple of years, so his Christmas present will probably be in the form of food (maybe an extra can or a chicken drumstick). I've been wondering about a heating pad; he's getting on in years, and though he likes to cuddle at night, he also spends half the night at the foot of bed as well.

    Speaking of sweaters, have you seen Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced & Covered in Cat Sweaters? She's an LA knitter who asked her readers to come up with cat sweaters and many rose to the challenge!. She writes a pretty funny blog too, at www.crazyauntpurl.com

    Mr. Kitty will not be getting a sweater. It's hard enough to put the Santa hat on him. :-)

  • 12/15/2010 03:30pm

    Okay, the link worked, but it doesn't look much different than the type. Click on 'rose to the challenge!' if you can't see it.

  • Gifting
    12/17/2010 06:08am

    I don't really celebrate the holidays, but surely enjoy a day off.

    Hence, my critters will get a lot of extra lap time which is what they seem to want anyway. (They lack for no toy, fancy carrier or bed already.)

    Well, except maybe Stan. He would probably like to shred a roll of wrapping paper.

  • 12/19/2010 02:37am

    I usually buy a few inexpensive toys and treats. The boys already have more stuff than they know what to do with, so I try not to go overboard.

    Doubt you'd find it on his list, but our new addition will be getting a microchip this year. (Sorry, Tyler.)

  • 12/26/2010 10:44pm

    I ended up buying them a couple of uber-discounted beanbag chairs for cats from Petco. They were a huge hit!

    And then I brought home the papasan chair *I* got for Christmas. Yeah, so much for the beanbags... and so much for me ever using that chair, haha.

  • 12/21/2010 04:28pm

    Different animal, but--my ferrets get a big pile of boxes and crumpled wrapping paper (all ribbons removed!) for Christmas, and they think it is the best thing ever :-)

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