Monday, December 21, 2009 1:27 PM

Cat-Friendly Christmas Gifts

At this time of year, many of us like to shop for a gift or two for our companion animals as well as our friends and family. While cats may seem fussier and harder to please than even old Uncle Scrooge, there are really quite a few things that you can pick up that cost very little and will make for a Merry Christmas for your furry pals.

In the toy department, there's nothing that makes cats happier than a nice catnip-filled toy. They don't last very long, granted, but it's a lot of fun watching cats destroy them! Since your cat will be practically eating these toys, try to get one that has organic catnip and a covering that is not dyed. Alternately, just get a bag of organic catnip--we dole this out, in three piles on the kitchen linoleum on Christmas day. Soon, however, they are all fighting over the same pile, and the antics are a riot. Truth be known, we do this more for our own entertainment than for theirs!

Other cheap, fun toys are ping-pong balls. They're too big to swallow, but so light that cats scramble like mad trying to catch them. I stay away from many store-bought toys, especially those feathery ones on a spring: Cats can swallow dyed feathers or string, and those springs can hurt their mouths. J. has found that playing with a yo-yo will keep cats mesmerized and involved for as long as you're willing to do tricks with it. Sometimes, just for ha-has, J. will take out a yo-yo just to see the Bear run over to him, even if he was previously in a deep slumber!

As for special snacks, it's an absolute must to share some of your cooked turkey with the cats. Give them a little dollop of gravy on top, too--as long as you don't spice it up too much, or use food coloring, etc. that may cause food allergies. Other tasty, good-for-your-cat snacks are clams and their juice (lots of taurine) and sardines (omega 3s and 6s, plus calcium).

Holidays give us an opportunity to show just how much we appreciate what others do for us all year long, and that includes our pets. Our pets know that we appreciate them, but it never hurts to show it with a little extra pampering. Now, what to do about a gift for Aunt Tilly...
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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