Therapy Cat Series: A Cat-Themed Christmas

Our family had a quiet Christmas with a focus on cats. Prior to Christmas, we bought a pet-friendly tree and I participated in a Secret Paws gift exchange with other cat bloggers. On Christmas Day itself, the cats and I received a lot of cat-related gifts. Finally, after Christmas, I tried several new sweaters on Rainy that I bought her for the cold winter months ahead. Rainy also received a surprise mention on Instagram!

Let’s start with our Christmas tree. My husband and I put up one for the first time since we got married. We easily decided against a real tree. Those are a lot of work. Also, there are so many reasons not to have them with pets. The needles are toxic and can puncture the intestines if ingested, preservatives in the water source are poisonous…. You get the picture. Artificial trees on the other hand seemed like a possibility. Sure, we’d need to be careful about what decorations we used, but otherwise we’ve never heard of a pet dying from an artificial tree. At the same time, two of our cats have gotten sick from eating needles off our cacti, and so I did feel some concern about the needles on artificial trees. Upon doing some research, I discovered that artificial trees are sprayed with a fire retardant that is harmful to pets. And so my thoughtful husband ended up buying us a metal ornament tree, which we decorated with large shatter-proof (aka plastic) ornaments.

Next up is the Secret Paws gift exchange. A year or so ago, I joined a Facebook group called Cats with Blogs, whose members celebrate the holidays in fun ways including card swaps and gift exchanges. After I signed up for the gift exchange, I received an email that gave info the cat owner I’d been matched with. Off I went to the pet store, where I discovered the joy of shopping for strangers. My match said that Peekaboo and Butterfly like Temptations treats, and so I put those in my basket first. I also threw in a favorite of my cats, meat puree treats. Peekaboo and Butterfly also like mice and crinkle balls, so I picked out two of each. I also threw in two wand toys, as these are a favorite of many cats. Their owner said a cat collar was an option, but I didn’t know her cats’ neck sizes, so instead I bought a cat throw for wrapping everything together.

After I mailed these gifts to my Secret Paws match, I eagerly awaited the arrival of our own package. As you can see from the photos, we received a card, Christmas cat dishes, and several types of treats and toys. The latter included a kick toy, which are a favorite of my youngest cat Rainy. I enjoyed participating in the Secret Paws exchange and plan to do it again. Next year, though, I’ll remember to include a Christmas card!

The number of cat-related gifts I received from my husband surprised and delighted me. I have been a cat mom since 2006, when a stray cat came into my yard and stayed, but generally people haven’t given me cat-related gifts. The difference this year perhaps is that I’ve become far more immersed in the cat world. Rainy and I have been a certified cat therapy team now for two years, my husband and I have also fostered kittens for two years, and this year I started a cat behavior consulting business. At any rate, Andy definitely showed his support of my activities with his cat-related gifts. He bought me a cat-transport backpack for me to use with Rainy on our outdoor adventures, cat decals for me to use in our upstairs foster kitten room, and an anatomical cat model, a toy cat paw, and cat sticky flags to mark books that I’ll use for my cat behavior business. The cat paw curls when it’s trigger is squeezed, and it also makes a sound: a gentle meow if the trigger is squeezed slowly, and a fierce growl if it’s squeezed fast. He also bought me cat socks, cat nightgown, stickers to use for decorating a new notebook (made out of stone) to be used as my cat journal and a family of posable collectible cat figures.

Of course, we couldn’t leave our pets out of the fun. Our toy poodle, Barnaby, is 15 now and shivers when I take him for walks on cold days, so we bought him a smart looking jacket to keep him warm. All of our cats look forward to receiving treats when I train them, and so we replenished their supply. And, finally, there can never be enough ways to transport a pet, and so we bought a pet sling for use with Barnaby and Rainy.

I’d also bought Rainy a Christmas sweater but unfortunately it proved too small and I had to return it. To avoid weeks of ordering and reordering, I then ordered all of the cute sweaters and hoodies I could find in Rainy’s size. This ended up being four. They all fit her, and so I posted a photo online of Rainy in them and asked others to vote on which one we should keep. I followed the advice of a fellow cat blogger who wrote, “All of them. A girl needs a wardrobe.”

To wrap up this article, I’d like to make two mentions. First, a painting by the cat Quint was one of my cat-related gifts to a friend and to myself. The original sales from his art were used to benefit cats in need of food, help, and medical care. Unfortunately, due to his owners falling upon hard times, all proceeds from his final paintings are going toward caring for their own cats. If art by a cat interests you, contact Quint’s owners here to see what paintings they have left.

Second, I want to thank Liza Minelli The Therapy Cat (whom Rainy “interviewed”) for this shout-out on Instagram: “This week’s therapy pet is Rainy! She is both a therapy animal and agility cat! One of my biggest inspirations on doing a therapy animal shout-out comes from the interviews Rainy does with other kitties. I am so fortunate to have other amazing kitties to look up to such as this tabby cutie. Check out Rainy’s profile and give this kitten some well-deserved love!”

Do you have an adventure, agility, or therapy cat, or simply a cat has been trained in obedience or tricks? Rainy is eager to usher in the new year with more interviews! For more information, contact me at: allisontalkspets@gmail.com

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