While dog parties have become increasingly popular, it seems like we hear very little about people throwing a cat party. Yet there’s no reason our birthday cats should be any less celebrated on their big day than their canine counterparts! Especially if it’s a birthday kitten reaching their benchmark one-year birthday. “It is so important to include our pets in our rituals as they surely are important parts of our lives. I would not dream of skipping a pet birthday party,” says Sally Morgan, PT, CST, a holistic physical therapist for pets in Northampton, MA and author of Dances of the Heart: Connecting with Animals.
When planning for a cat birthday party, it’s crucial to work around your cat’s personality. Despite the stereotype of the aloof feline, many cats love the company of people, other felines and even cat-friendly dogs. If your cat has an outgoing personality, you can consider planning a longer or larger party than you should if your pet is more the skittish type. In either case, here’s everything you need to know to throw a successful birthday bash for your special party cat.
Time it Right, Then Invite.
Cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are the most active at dawn and dusk, so plan to schedule your party accordingly.
Guests can include cats, small dogs your cat knows well, and, of course, their people. Your cat’s comfort during the cat party should be paramount. Is it not exactly a lovefest between your cat and the family Doberman? Then, despite the fact he’s “family,” it may be best to keep him away from the action, says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert in Tampa, Florida.
Keep in mind your final headcount may be lower than what you expect. Though she’s always had at least one or two feline revelers, “More often than not, people are reluctant to transport their cats unnecessarily,” observes Morgan.
Make it Festive.
Morgan suggests cutting out paw prints from colorful paper and hanging them up as an easy and inexpensive way to decorate. She also uses paper goods that have cats or pawprints on them. Maybe hang a fun “Happy Birthday” sign for your birthday cat. And don’t forget the goody bags! Small bags of treats, or individual bags you make up yourself with zip-top snack-size bags, are easy and sure to be appreciated by your cat’s furry friends. If you prefer to go the toy route, the Hartz Just for Cats Midnight Crazies Cat Toy is budget-friendly (and aptly named if you are having that late-night soiree). Whatever you choose, “Make sure to include one for any pets at home that couldn’t come to the party,” adds Morgan. And don’t forget a favor for each guest’s person! Morgan suggests cat-print socks, costume jewelry featuring cats, or a cat key chain.
Bring on the Games!
One of Morgan’s go-to party activities is a kitty obstacle course. Arrange things such as a low balance beam, a tunnel (Jackson Galaxy Cat Crawl collapses for easy storage), and a few items to step through or climb over. “Then find wand toys with feathers on the end to entice the cats to play on the obstacles,” says Morgan. The SmartyKat Scratch Scroll would be a fun part of any obstacle course, and comes with the feather attached! What birthday kitten wouldn’t be happy with a kitty obstacle course complete with engaging toys?
An option that will get the humans involved is musical hula hoops, which is like musical chairs, but you step into and out of a hoop holding your pet. Outside the hoop when the music stops? You’re both out! Play cat-themed music, such as “Alley Cat” and the theme song from “The Pink Panther.” You can even try limbo, says Morgan, by luring kitties under the pole with the feather wand toy. “Some cats will avoid this totally; others will just jump over it…but no matter how the cats do, it will be fun for everyone.”
Time for Treats.
Fresh-cooked turkey or chicken will almost certainly be a crowd-pleasing party food. Cat treats in a pouch are a winning, convenient choice as well, notes Morgan. Levine suggests surprising your cat with a tuft of natural cat greens or grass. (Humans get to nosh on a traditional birthday cake, cut after singing Happy Birthday to Cat, of course.)
Who can resist picking up a few cat birthday (or kitten birthday) presents? One of Levine’s favorites is the PetSafe Twist n Treat Teaser Cat Toy. If you really want to wow your birthday cat or birthday kitten consider the Frisco Cat Tree. Unwrap it right before the party, so the guests can enjoy it too!
Be Creative in Special Situations.
If your cat attends a pet daycare, or most of her “friends” do, think about incorporating that familiar setting into your party. Morgan has rented a room at a pet daycare on a few occasions, as the invitees are already there. “Sometimes I have sent some special food for my cat to share with the others at a daycare on her birthday, though then the party is just about the cats, not the humans,” says Morgan.
If you have an elderly cat, you should try to keep any celebration especially low key. Also, “I’ve celebrated half-birthdays with senior cats, as they are getting up there in age and we don’t want to lose that special day with a senior,” adds Morgan.
Manage Your Expectations.
If you throw a cat party expecting everything to go exactly as planned, with your sweetie purring, nuzzling, and playing the entire time, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Mary Molloy, CPDT-KA at Nirvana Tails in New York City, has a cat who prefers to go into another room when visitors come over. “She has no interest in meeting and greeting. It would never occur to me to throw her a party, because I don’t think she’d enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate.” Instead, Molloy spoils her both on her birthday and her “gotcha day,” the date she was adopted from the shelter. She gets extra play sessions, her favorite treat, and plenty of catnip. If you decide to go that less-is-more route, Sojos Catnip is an organic, hand-harvested option. “So by all means,” says Molloy, “if you want to do something special for your kitty, go for it! Just don’t assume that she wants what you want, or will like what you think she will like.”