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Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild discusses what to get your cat

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We used to laugh at the thought of buying our cat any sort of gift, writes animal behaviour expert, Karen Wild.

If we even found out their actual birth date (not always easy with a cat) we would never remember it. Unlike nowadays, where we have masses of choice for our cats and kittens to enjoy something extra at Christmas.

Not only this but if you have a rescue cat, you may not know their birth date but lots of us will celebrate their ‘gotcha’ day! This is the day they first came to their forever home with us.

Karen Wild
Karen Wild

A gift for a cat needs to be welfare-friendly before everything else. You can start them off with a cat advent calendar. This is a nice touch, and if you want to help your cat learn a new skill, be sure to ask your cat to do something simple for his treat each day.

If you’re thinking about Christmas gift shopping, scratch posts are always a great idea, no matter how old your kitty is. Cats need to scratch their claws to remove any dead outer layers (which you may then find lying around). They also scent mark by scratching as well as leaving a visual mark which I am sure you might have witnessed on the wallpaper or the sofa, or in our case, the bottom step of the stair. A scratch post also helps your cat to stretch and flex their feet and bodies, so make sure you buy a sturdy one or two. Place them in front of the existing locations your cat likes to use. You might be thanking Santa soon!

If you do decide to get them treats, make them useful! Don’t just let your cat learn to be persistent in hooking your hand towards them whenever you are holding food. Try to use any food treats as a signal to call your cat to you. Rattling a treat bag and then giving the cat a couple can help in future when your cat disappears up into the loft, a tree or next door’s garden. We used this trick to call the cat in from impending fireworks, and we also use it to get him to come in when it’s time for the Vet, but we use the same signal most days so he can’t guess ahead. Keep it fun and your cat will always come to you.

How about toys? Catnip is always good, but ensure it is decent quality, so you may want to spend a little more on one decent toy than a bunch of cheaper ones. We have excellent pet shops locally, so go and ask them what they would suggest.

Don’t forget to hide it all away properly, so you don’t get a little cat burglar spoiling his surprises!

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