Pets As Gifts

How to Give Cats as Gifts

Christmas Cat
Kai Eiselein / Getty Images

Holiday seasons often prompt pet lovers to spread furry love around and give pets as gifts. It can be done, but there are some pitfalls to avoid to ensure the fur-kid gets a home for life, and his new human parents welcome him unconditionally.

Cupid's fickle arrow works best when the individual person and potential pet meet face to face. What strikes your fancy may leave Uncle Felix cold. Even if he's begged for an Abyssinian cat for decades, let HIM choose.

The time, the place, the person, and the cat must be right for love to bloom into a lifetime commitment.

And just because you think that your grandma needs the company, she may have other plans, such as traveling to visit all the grandkids. A new kitten that wreaks havoc amongst granny's fine china won't win you points. Busy new parents may love pets, but have other demands that take priority.

Parents Giving Cats as Gifts

Children delight in fluffy kittens for a birthday surprise or on Christmas morning. Kids and cats make great friendships but kitty can't be shoved under the bed and forgotten when the latest video game has more appeal. Remember-even if Fluffy is for the kids, the ADULT ultimately holds responsibility for the well-being of the pet.

Before you put a bow around that furry neck, as yourself these questions. Will the child's parents have the time to spend the one-on-one attention a new pet needs, and deserves?Will the gift recipient have the time, ability, and funds to care for the cat over the next 10 to 20 years?

(Yes, some lucky cats live that long!)

What if the kids, your spouse, Aunt Ethel, or a best friend have made it clear they want a pet, are prepared for the responsibility, and feel ready RIGHT NOW to welcome a furry loved one in their life? You're sure, and so are they. What can you do? Use this checklist as a map to finding the perfect kitty pick.

Choosing The Gift-Cat

  • Age Matters. Does the child want a playmate, or is a purring lap-sitting couch potato Grandma's perfect pet? Kittens take more work including kitten-proofing the home but are more active and may be a good choice for youngsters. Adopting an adult cats means the personality is known-maybe the prospective kitty already gets along well with other cats or dogs, or likes grandkids. Senior cats are more sedate, usually already spayed or neutered, and are a known quantity. An older human might fear a young cat would outlive their ability to care for it, so a middle aged kitty could be the right match.
  • Personality Matters. A shy kitty won't do well with a busy household that has lots of guests, but could be a great choice as an "only" pet and blossom with one-on-one attention. Certain breeds like Siamese are known for talking a lot, Somali cats swing from the drapes, and Bengals enjoy playing in the bathtub. Research to know what the recipient really wants as a match to lifestyle and their own personality.
  • Care Matters. Kittens and old cats require the most care, and that can involve added cost. Healthy adult cats in their prime certainly need routine exams but will be the least expensive to adopt.
  • Source Matters. If you want a pedigreed kitty, cat shows offer the best opportunity to meet breeders, learn about specific behavior foibles and care issues. Reputable breeders interview prospective buyers to be sure their cats have good homes for life, and sometimes place retired adult show cats in new homes. These breeders can be a great resource to help your new kitty fit into your home. Adopting from shelters and rescue groups saves a cat's life which is a "bonus" gift at this time of year.

Fund the Gift-Cat

Once you're in the furry ballpark of age, breed, and source, contact the professional cattery, shelter, and/or rescue organization and explain the situation. Ask them to conspire with you-arrange to place a deposit, or fund the adoption FOR the recipient, with the pet to be chosen later! Then create a gift certificate explaining this special surprise, and have that ready to present on the big day. You can have the fun of accompanying the person later, when they choose their own furry wonder.

Wrap the Cat Gift (but not literally!)

Create a "pet care package" that contains all the must-haves for the new family member. Fill a basket with treats, food, cat litter, training and grooming equipment, and lots-lots!-of appropriate toys. Don't forget to include a book or two about kitty care and behavior or other fun information. People who already have a special cat or dog also always appreciate a pet care package. And to top it all off, include that gift certificate you've created--and be prepared for the wonderful smiles!

Holidays tend to be hectic times when normal routines go out the window. Whether a baby, adult or senior rescue cat, new animals need the stability of knowing what to expect. Following this guide to giving cats as gifts allows the recipient to choose their pet, and the timing to bring kitty home.

If folks can manage this over the holidays (summer break from school is ideal)-more power to them! In fact, some holiday schedules may allow new owners to be home more during this time to help the new kitty adjust. Just think: you're not only giving the pet to a person-you're giving a special human to a waiting cat. That's a gift that keeps on giving for years to come.