By Debbie De Louise
As the holidays approach, cat lovers are bombarded with advertisements for gifts for their kitties. These range from catnip-filled toys that are touted as purr-fect stocking stuffers to expensive cat furniture, motorized games, and other fancy items that most felines will use once and then abandon or only take interest in occasionally.
Instead of expensive gifts, I plan to focus on what my cats really want for Christmas this year. I’ve written a list of “gifts” that I believe cats want, based on my experience with my own cats. Maybe your cat will enjoy them too! Most of them are free but require some effort on the part of the gift giver.
Love and Attention
While cats are known to be aloof, that doesn’t mean they don’t want affection. This can be given in what I call the 3 P’s: Petting, Primping, and Playing. Each are described below:
- Petting – My cats love to be petted, but sometimes only when they’re in the mood for it. If you’re lucky enough to have a lap cat, it will be easy to find the purr-fect time to pet him. Otherwise, you can do it when your cat is resting but not asleep. Some cats don’t like to be touched in certain areas, such as their stomachs, so be careful until you learn what your cat will allow. If your cat doesn’t like to be petted at all, that’s okay! Don’t force it.
- Primping – My cats enjoy being groomed, but that hasn’t always been the case. It took time to get them used to it and to find the right brush or comb. My cat Oliver, who has since passed, really enjoyed his grooming, while Stripey avoided the brush. However, after some training and acclimation, I was able to get Stripey interested in being groomed.
- Playing – No matter how old your cat is, playing will help her age gracefully, keep her weight stable, and aid in bonding between the two of you. Cats love toys that allow them to develop their hunting and pouncing skills. My cats, like many others, find wands with toy mice or feathers fun to catch. Others like to dig their paws into holes where a toy critter might be hiding. There are toys sold like this, or you can make one yourself. When your cat gets bored with a particular toy or game, simply try something else.
My cat, Hermione, likes to play a game that I call “Undercover Cat” where she hides under a sheet while I tease her with a wand toy. Here are photos of her playing the game.
They say food is the way to a man’s heart. I’ve also found that food is the way to my cat’s heart. Cats like to eat small meals several times a day, but people who work or can’t fit that into their schedules can feed them twice a day.
There are many discussions about the best types of food to feed – wet vs. dry. If your cat doesn’t require a special diet for health reasons, you can try both like I do! A mix might be what satisfies your cat’s palate.
Cats are safer living indoors. If you don’t have a catio or aren’t able to take them outside for leashed walks, you can instead make sure they have a room with a view. My cats love a cat tree by a window or cat steps above, as they can observe nature without being exposed to the dangers of the outdoors.
A soft bed is also always welcome. You can buy a bed, but you might find your cats prefer sleeping with you like mine do.
Felines hate loud noises. Their ears are sensitive because they can hear sounds that many humans can’t. For this reason, the sounds of silence or calming sounds are best around them. Try to avoid yelling or playing music too loud. My cats love videos of bird chatter that entertain them both visually and audibly.
My cats love boxes, bags, and other enclosed areas or objects that make them feel cozy and safe. If you try giving your cat a bag to play in, just be careful to remove any handles on the bags, as cats can get their heads caught in them.
Also, make sure any enclosed objects have easy access. Hideaways don’t necessarily have to be on the ground. My cat Harry loves to find high places to occupy as his havens. The tops of closets and even refrigerators fit the bill perfectly.
(caption: Harry looking over his “kingdom” in his high hideaway)
Schedules and Routines
Cats don’t like change. They’re truly creatures of habit. They prefer to eat, play, and sleep at certain times. My cats follow my own schedule. They hate the fall and springtime changes but adjust to it, as we do.
While your cat might love to receive all the above “gifts” from Santa Claws, they also won’t object to catnip in their stocking, a new window-facing cat tree, a quiet cat fountain, or cat tunnel if you can afford it. Just remember, you can save money and make your cats happy with the simple things in life. And don’t forget the feral and shelter cats who would only love a home this year.
About the Author
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a retired librarian. She’s a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writers’ Association. Her writing includes the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend cozy mystery series and novels of various genres. She also writes short stories, poems, and articles. Debbie lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and 2 cats.