With Christmas just around the corner, plenty of busy pet owners are pulling their hair out over concerns about finding the perfect gift for their animal companions. Even on a tight schedule with a tight budget, there are still some great gift options available that won’t ruin your pet’s holiday.
Most animals really enjoy eating. In fact, before domestication, many species that we now own as pets would spend the majority of their free time seeking out food in the same way that we seek out the next series to binge on Netflix. And those ancestors’ instinct to eat food is still alive in their pet descendants today.
A recent survey estimates that over 70% of animals alive today rank “eating food” among their top three favorite pastimes. And after all, the holidays don’t have to be about breaking the bank or wracking your brain to outdo last year’s gift. Sometimes the simplest gestures are the most meaningful.
That old T-shirt that you’re thinking of throwing out? That sock with the hole in it (and its lonely partner)? With just a slight modification or two, these worn-out articles of clothing can get a new life as your pet’s favorite toy! And the fact that it smells like their loving owner subtly manipulates their soft animal brains into an artificial state of calm.
It doesn’t take an experienced seamstress to twist fabric, tie knots, add a cute patch, or bring the waist in a little while dropping the neckline. And don’t forget to remove those buttons!
Everyone loves a good story. Books have been proven to reduce stress and improve the ability to empathize with others. As a shared activity, reading can improve our relationships and offer new perspectives on understanding the world around us.
If your pet isn’t much of a reader? Start with picture books or short chapter books, or try reading to your pet to create a sense of familiarity. Consider using an interest inventory to find what genre best fits your pet’s personality so you’re getting a book that truly resonates.
3. Re-gifted Items
That coin sorter that your uncle gave your for your birthday — again! — this year? The bread maker that you never see yourself using? Why not wrap it back up and give it to your pet?
Animals don’t have a well-developed sense of trends or fads and tend not to be disappointed to receive gifts that are a year or two out of date. And since they don’t typically have friends, they lack the perspective to understand if something is tacky.
*BONUS* Pets are usually generous enough that if you need to borrow the item back, they won’t give you a hard time about it.
2. Literal Trash
If re-gifting is your style but you don’t have anything to give, you might be looking at the situation too narrowly. What is a gift after all? What separates a chew toy from the empty roll on the paper towel holder? And all those unwanted “gifts” in the dumpster behind the gas station? Why should the raccoons have all the fun?
And it doesn’t have to stop at human trash. Nature makes plenty of trash itself. That nice stick out by the mailbox? That rock in the Walmart parking lot? That leaf dancing on the wind? Make up some lie about how its rugged, natural essence moved your soul and you wanted your pet to share in that beauty.
This is a great option if your pet is a militant atheist or morally opposed to capitalist ideology. Is your pet getting a liberal arts degree? Do they constantly bemoan the hollow, transactional nature of modern society? As a sign of solidarity, agree to forego gift-giving this year in favor of creating meaningful opportunities for quality time. Get to know your pet on the kind of intimate level that comes from being alone together in one another’s space.