Image via iStock.com/loops7
By Kathy Blumenstock
December is Cat Lovers’ Month (even though our cats believe that’s every month!), so it’s time to celebrate the beauty, smarts and sass of all cats in big and small, and fun and serious ways. From helping a cat rescue by donating cat food and cat toys to learning some new cat facts or giving your own kitties extra TLC, there are plenty of ways to show your kitty some love this month.
We asked veterinarians, cat rescue volunteers and cat behaviorists for suggestions to fill your daily cat calendar with ways to celebrate the kitties of the world and the very special ones you call family.
- If you’ve got wheels, become a cat taxi for your local shelter, just like Tony Poon, a volunteer for Ollie’s Place, a Brooklyn cat rescue. He’s transported kitties to vet visits, adoption events, foster homes and forever homes. “When someone donated a 6-foot-cat tree, I drove it from New Jersey to a foster mom of six cats in Manhattan.”
- Visit a cat café. These popular feline-and-caffeine combos keep popping up, and with a quick search, you can find your closest café, like Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, DC. Enjoy your fave beverage while sharing the sofa with mellow, adoptable cats. Bring a cat-less friend, who might just find his new BFF while sipping a large latte.
- Learn a fun new cat fact: “Cats have an air righting reflex and an innate ability to turn their bodies in mid-air to land on their feet,” says feline behaviorist Yody Blass. A falling cat’s body reflexively begins to correct its course, so by the time solid ground is near, his feet are positioned to hit first. You can get started with a few fun facts about cat ears.
- Visit a local shelter and play with the cats. This will help socialize them and make them more adoptable. Shy kitties will feel reassured by a friendly touch, and more outgoing cats will welcome a chin scratch or two.
- If the plight of cats in need during a distant disaster claws at your heart, open a separate bank account, or even an envelope, to hold your planned donations to pet rescue. Stashing the cost of a latte away each week will add up quickly, so next time there’s a natural disaster, you can give much-needed support to the cat rescues that are helping faraway felines.
- Watching funny cat videos on social media is fun, but using all your social platforms to help cats is even better. Post and share photos/videos of adoptable cats on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connecting someone in your network to a sweet tabby seeking a forever home gives both of you a reward.
- Knit or crochet for shelter cats, like Emma Eng, 93, of Bellevue, Washington, who turns out dozens of cozy blankets for the cats of Seattle Humane. Eng says that knitting for the kitties keeps her “hands busy and heart full.”
- Learn to properly trim your cat’s claws. Get a hands-on tutorial from your vet, then treat yourself and your kitty to professional-grade clippers such as the Hertzko Professional dog and cat nail clipper and nail file. Its semi-circular indentation lets you see precisely what you’re cutting. The safety guard and the bonus nail-smoothing file will make trimming you cat’s nails more efficient and safe. Quick tip: Locate ‘the quick,’ that vein snaking into a cat’s claw, so you can avoid cutting it.
- Share those feline manicure skills. Reach out and help an elderly neighbor clip her cat’s toenails to prevent overgrown claws that can lead to frustration and even injury. You can post on neighborhood social apps to offer your skills.
- Help reduce the number of kittens born to feral and stray cats by getting involved with local community cat programs. According to feline behaviorist Marci Koski, “These cats can be at high risk of suffering and death. Find a local TNR (trap/neuter/return) organization which will loan you traps and help spay/neuter community cats for low or no cost."
- Cat fact: “Cats are not highly social animals. The wild cats from which our domestic companions have originated did not share their life with other cats,” says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, assistant professor of clinical animal behavior at PennVet. ”Our cats have learned to coexist with other cats, sometimes becoming best friends.” He says it’s normal for some cats to prefer being solo, and their choice should be respected. Be sure your cat has plenty of vertical space (tall cat trees) and places for solo napping (cat window perches) when she wants to be alone.
- Especially in colder months, cats may not drink enough water. Try providing them with a new cat water fountain, like the Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Pet Fountain. This intriguing water source holds a gallon of water and mirrors a natural water source, which helps entice cats to drink. It’s dishwasher safe and has a stainless steel surface that is bacteria-resistant. It has also been designed to ensure that curious kitties wont tip it over.
- Plan to attend a cat show. Discover exotic pedigreed breeds like the Devon Rex and Tonkinese, watch cats competing in agility—just as dogs do!—and cheer on the Household Pet class, where everyday kitties go for glory. Check the Cat Fanciers’ Association listings for dates and places.
- Find an animal shelter or rescue group with a food bank for those who struggle to afford feeding their pets. Consider using a website that offers pet food delivery. You can use the autoship option to set up a recurring donation, so the food and cat treats you choose will be delivered directly to the organization monthly.
- Celebrate cats’ instincts to climb, hide, explore and scratch by treating your kitty to the ultimate cat tree hangout. With 10 scratching posts, two scratcher board ramps and plenty of lounging platforms, the Frisco 72-inch large base cat tree includes dangling toys (designed to release under extra pressure, keeping cats safe) and two private cat condos. Plush fabric covers all perches, making this a cozy escape for the cats you love.
- If your favorite cat rescue organization publishes a calendar, buy two (or more) and gift them to cat-minded friends. Your donation will help support the group, and your thoughtful gifts may remind friends to think about adoption, fostering or other ways of helping local cat rescues.
- Read a book written by a cat. Grumpy Cat has penned several, including “The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations by Grumpy Cat,” which features the wisdom of the internet-famous, cranky-looking cat. You may be inspired to coauthor your own cat's story.
- Host a drive for your favorite cat rescue at your office or among family members to collect much-need supplies—blankets, cat food, treats, toys and beds—to donate. Invite them to accompany you when you bring the supplies, then reward their generosity with homemade cookies or muffins.
- If you send holiday cards, birthday cards or greeting cards of any kind, include a funny or poignant photo of your cat or an adoptable cat inside. This is an easy way to share your feline joy—and to remind friends and colleagues how much a cat can enrich their lives.
- Getting new towels? Collect, launder and donate the old towels to your vet’s office. Vets always need towels for cleanups, for cats recovering from surgery or kitties awaiting their dental cleanings.
- If you've adopted a new kitten, celebrate her first year by snapping a photo every day. A daily chronicle spanning those first 365 days will give you pure delight as you see your tiny ball of fluff magically morph into a sleek, long-legged beauty. Frame the first and last photo for the ultimate before and after.
- Indulge in a cat classic: “The Silent Miaow.” This is a photo book filled with humor and provides kittens, strays and homeless cats with a manual for how to rule their new families’ homes. It first appeared in 1964 and has been called the da Vinci code for cats. Translated “from the feline” by acclaimed novelist Paul Gallico (yes, who also wrote “The Poseidon Adventure”), it’s a timeless tribute to kitties by a man who adored them.
- Birthday on the horizon? Start a fundraiser for a cat rescue on Facebook. Ask your friends and family to donate to the kitties rather than buying you another sweater or dust-catching décor item. This birthday gift will feel as warm as a steady purr.
- Focus on your cat’s well-being by scheduling a twice-annual vet visit. This is “important for all cats but particularly for older ones, so we can establish a baseline for health issues“ says Dr. Brad LeVora of Little Seneca Animal Hospital in Germantown, Maryland. “This way we have a comparison if your cat suddenly begins showing signs of distress or pain.”
- Cats love to sunbathe, even in winter months, so place a comfy cat bed near a window that gets plenty of daylight, as Kay Oliver of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center reminds us. Or you can try a self-warming cat heated bed, like the Pet Magasin’s Thermal Self-Heated Cat Bed. Its insulating Mylar film absorbs and retains your cat’s own body heat, and its rubberized underside prevents sliding. This is especially thoughtful for aging cats who like extra coziness.
- Find a free ASPCA workshop to learn more about how best to help cats in the community, such as techniques for socializing feral cats and kittens. Workshops offer tools and tips that can be used with any kitties who come into shelters or rescues.
- Gift a friend’s newly adopted cat a surprise package. The Holiday Goody Box for cats is filled with five or more full-size, handpicked goodies in seasonal packaging. The assortment includes food and snack items, supplements and even some surprises for a cozy home. Recommended for both adult cats and kittens, this would also make a welcome surprise for your own deserving kitty!
- Personalized purrfection: tote bags, pillows, calendars, mugs and other useful items are so much more meaningful with images of your own cat or one belonging to a friend or relative. Check out sites that allow you to put your pet’s face on everyday items like socks, blankets, bags or pillows to create a unique and meaningful gift.
- Spend a day focused on your own feline. Give a little extra grooming time—check those ears and comb away loose fur, then let her doze in your lap. Freshen her bedding for sweet dreams and play her favorite game, reminding her how important she is in your daily life.
- Establish your own Year of The Cat: Resolve to do one special, fun, meaningful thing for cats each month of 2019, whether that’s volunteering at a shelter, collecting donations or getting your cat in for her dental cleaning. Make every month an appreciation of our feline friends.
- Stage a feline fire drill. Practice getting your cat into her cat carrier quickly but calmly, then exiting your home. This is especially useful if you have multiple cats. Even if you’ve mentally rehearsed this drill, walking through it will ease the panic if you ever need to evacuate. Be sure to put up pet stickers that tell emergency response teams how many pets are inside your home.
Bonus Ways to Celebrate Cats
If you want to do even more for felines, here are some bonus to do’s to add to your list:
Foster a senior cat, a special needs kitty or an orphan kitten. They all deserve more time than overworked rescue workers can provide. Your individual affection will give a lonely cat a boost of confidence.
Think the unthinkable: If you can no longer care for your cat, who will? Talk to family, trusted friends and your vet, then draft an action plan. Ensure that everyone has copies so your wishes for you beloved cat can be honored.
Cook for your kitty! Whether you whip up nutritious bone broth or bake/chill a fun cat treat recipe, preparing something homemade for your pet is a delicious experience for you both.