The economy may be hurting our wallets, but that doesn’t mean you need to skip gift-giving this holiday season, especially when it comes to your cat. There’s no need to splurge on presents for your favorite pet; the best gifts often involve more thought and less cash. Here’s a Santa’s sack full of ideas for homemade, handmade or inexpensive cat gifts:
- Catnip mice: Cat owner Donna Hinshaw suggests this idea for those who aren’t particularly crafty. Take a 2-inch-by-3-inch square of fabric, fill it with catnip and sew it shut. “I make mine in the vague shape of a mouse and use a Sharpie to draw on eyes and a smiling mouth,” says Hinshaw. “Include an old shoelace or a drawstring from a fancy shopping bag as the tail, about 12 to 18 inches long. Some cats carry the mouse around by the tail.” Hinshaw removes the plastic end of the shoelace as a safety precaution and knots the end so it won’t unravel.
- Quilts and blankets: Your cat’s new blanket can be as simple as a piece of fleece or the bottom from an old sweater, says Hinshaw, who makes small quilts to donate to shelter adoption centers. Hinshaw’s simple instruction are to lay two pieces of fleece back-to-back, cutting fringe around the edges and tying the fringe of the two pieces together.
- Climbers: The climbing towers you find in pet stores can be expensive. Consider converting an old wooden ladder into a climbing tower, suggests Sandy Sandler, a crafts expert in Henderson, Nev. You can cover the steps with carpet remnants and create a tower that suits your decor. Make sure you secure the ladder to the wall.
- Chenille stem toys: Chenille stems, also known as pipe cleaners, come in an amazing variety of colors, patterns and sizes. You can roll balls of tinfoil, then wrap chenille stems around them to hold the shape. Or mold a few stems into fish and then attach them to a wooden dowel to make a swat toy, says Sandler.
- Flying toys: Simply attach pieces of floppy fabric to the end of a straightened wire hanger, then move it through the air as if it were a bird, advises Dr. Lee Pickett, a Bernville, Pa., veterinarian. You can also make a fishing toy by tying a feather or fallen leaves to the end of a string attached to a stick.
- Gifts that empower others: You’ll find colorful, yet economical, gifts for your kitty made by a Guatemalan women’s cooperative at UPAVIMCrafts.org. Supporting this organization helps craftswomen who are sometimes the sole economic support of their families. A breakaway collar is $5.10, and an organic catnip hacky sack sells for $5. Organic catnip mice cost $7.30.
- Organic cotton collars: Jimena Lopez-Rehmer sells handmade collars using organic cotton for $15 each at CollarsWithColor.com. She offers holiday themes, including snowmen and gingerbread men.
- Warming pad: The Pet-zzz-pad ($19.99) heats your kitty’s bed to a vet-recommended 102 degrees. The pad activates once your cat steps onto its bed.
- Organic wheatgrass: Everything you need to grow organic wheatgrass arrives in a bag from online eco boutique LavishAndLime.com. The bag sells for $10.50.
As you make or purchase gifts for your cat, Pickett
cautions that you keep safety in mind. Strings, ribbon, tinsel and yarn can
cause deadly obstructions if your cat eats the material. Always supervise the
use of stringed toys. If you splurge on a number of gifts, rotate them to keep
your cat’s interest.