The Hervey Foundation for Cats

Considering Giving a Cat as a Gift? In Most Cases You Probably Shouldn’t.

Gifting a cat

First off, let’s clarify something. Cats are living creatures, just like you and me. They have needs, wants, and they require social interaction, positive re-enforcement and regular care. They are not gifts. Cats should not be placed into homes where the recipient is not someone interested in caring for a cat.

If you want to adopt a cat for someone during Christmas, it should be for the right reasons; the recipient wants a cat, has owned cats before, and you know they are responsible enough to care for a life for the next decade or two.

Cats have lifespans ranging from 15 to 20+ years. They are not something to be given, enjoyed for a couple years then returned to the shelter. That’s not to say it is always a bad idea to give someone a cat for Christmas, but there are a number of things that need to be done before a person follows through with it.

In some cases, giving a cat as a gift can be a wonderful thing. For example, a family already considering getting a cat, with experience caring for them in the past, would make a great home for adopting a cat at Christmas. On the other hand, giving a new girlfriend or boyfriend a cat, a young child, or someone who has no experience caring for them can be examples of bad recipients of a cat as a gift.

If you’re considering adopting a cat for someone this Christmas, there are a few things you should ask yourself, as well as a few things you can do to set the new cat owner up for success.

Has the person you want to adopt the cat for ever cared for a cat before?

This is one of the most important parts of this equation. A cat as a gift can be a big surprise for someone who hasn’t owned cats before. They need to figure out a cat’s needs, such as how to set up a litter box, how often to clean it, what food to buy them, etc.

Have you ever cared for a cat before?

Nobody should be giving animals to people they are not close with, and if neither you nor the person you are planning to give a cat to have ever cared for a cat, it might not be the best idea. If you and this person are close and neither have experience with cats, the required work to keep the cat happy and safe might be daunting. Before going through with this, do your research, learn about cat behaviour, routines, diets, and everything there is to know. You should be able to support the person you plan to give a cat to as best as possible.

Is the recipient someone who is loving?

Cats need love. There is no way around it. They require attention and positive re-enforcement. On the plus side, they will return that love many times over! If you are hoping to get someone a cat for Christmas with the hopes they will warm up, maybe consider another gift. We know it seems like we are giving lots of reasons to not adopt a cat at Christmas, but it is because we want to ensure our cats are adopted safely and go to forever homes.

Are there other animals living in the recipient’s space?

Introducing a cat to a household full of other animals can be overwhelmingly stressful to them. Cats often need slow introductions to each other (and other animals) to avoid fights. The ideal place for a new cat is a house free of other animals, but if the recipient has experience bringing two cats together, it can be done. It just might add additional stress to the holidays.

Who is providing the starting equipment?

Cats are not a toy with batteries included, and thus, your recipient will need some items to provide a place where the cat can stay and feel safe.

These items include:

  • Litter box
  • Litter
  • Cat food (wet and dry)
  • Some cat toys
  • A cat bed

While the cat toys and bed are optional, they definitely can make the transition a lot smoother. Again, this is one that should only be attempted if the recipient truly is the right person to be receiving a cat.

If You Aren’t Sure

Call us! If you are not sure whether or not you should be giving someone a cat for the holidays, talk to us or another local shelter. The staff can give you a better idea of whether or not you are making the right move.