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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.


It’s that time of year again. With the holidays just around the corner, thoughts for many of us turn to gifts and gift-giving. What do you get for that special person or terrific pet for the holidays? Here are some thoughts:

  • My cats love new toys. Throw in a little catnip and it makes for a really special experience for them. The toys don’t have to be expensive and almost any pet store has lots of toys from which to choose. Although, to be honest, my guys are just as happy with a home-made toy as they are with a purchased one. A stick with a small bit of paper tied to it by a string makes a great toy that they love to chase. Plus it has the added benefit of providing some much needed exercise for them too. But then, in a pinch, even a piece of crumpled paper or the bottle top from a plastic bottle is enough to provide hours of entertainment for my cats.
  • Special food treats are always welcomed, at least by my cats. And though they don’t get them often, this is the holiday season. So, a special treat or two is deserved. Just don’t overdo. And don’t give any foods that are toxic or dangerous for your cats. I usually just give my guys some Pounce or something similar. They don’t get these treats except for special occasions so that makes them perfect for a special holiday gift/treat.
  • Looking for the perfect gift for a fellow cat lover? Nothing makes most of us happier than being able to provide something nice for our cats. Consider a special cat bed or maybe a cat tree that your special someone can give to his or her cat to enjoy. A sturdy scratching post is another option for a nice cat gift.
  • Here’s another thought and it’s my very favorite. Plus it’s perfect for that person that has everything. Make a donation to a favorite pet shelter or rescue in your friend’s name. It’s a win-win for everyone. Shelters and rescues can always use the funding and the holiday season is certainly no exception. Your cat loving friend will appreciate your consideration and will love the gift. This makes a great holiday gift for a favorite veterinarian also! (Hint, hint…)

We’ve talked about gifts that a cat lover will appreciate. Now let’s talk about a gift you should never give anyone, especially as a surprise. Never unexpectedly give a pet as a gift to someone. Pets are a big responsibility and it’s not fair to place that burden on a friend or family member without their prior consent. Be sure that your friend is ready, willing, and able to accept the responsibility of a pet. If you’re giving a child a pet as a gift, always check with the child’s parents first. The ultimate responsibility for that pet will end up laying on the parents, not the child. You don’t want the pet to end up being surrendered to a shelter or rescue because your friend was not willing or able to care for your gift.

Do you have another gift idea? I’d love to hear it. Please share!

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: Kesu / via Shutterstock

Comments  4

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  • Gifts
    12/12/2011 07:17am

    You are SO right about never giving a pet as a gift.

    Instead, give a gift certificate for a shelter.

    Perhaps give a collar or food dish.

    But always let the recipient pick out the pet themselves.

    And if the parent wants to give a pet to children, knowing who will ultimately care for the critters, wait until AFTER the holidays when things have calmed down. A new critter in the midst of having guests with all the commotion is extremely hard on the critter. I've also seen families get a new critter and immediately travel for the holidays. Fluffy or Fido hasn't had a chance to settle into a new home and is either left alone, put into the car or put into a boarding situations. None of those options is fair to the pet.

  • 12/14/2011 07:07pm

    Those are all great points! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Catnip rules
    12/13/2011 12:00pm

    Although I no longer have cats, they used to love petite fur mice that had been "charged" in a tub of catnip. Such a fun time for them during the holiday season and (really) anytime.
    Great suggestions for cat lovers Dr Lorie!

  • 12/14/2011 07:09pm

    You're right, Dr. Patrick. Catnip really does rule. Just ask my cats...they'll be quick to agree :)

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