Healthy Cats Gift Guide

Veterinarians share their gift picks for cats.

From the WebMD Archives

Your cat may not understand that it's the holiday season, but that's no reason to leave it out of the celebrations. Keep your feline friend active, healthy, and clean with these 10 products tested and approved by veterinarians and WebMD pet experts Katherine Scott, DVM, DACVIM, and Mark Stickney, DVM.

Here are the vets' picks in four categories: brain boosters/play, grooming, soothing/behavioral products, and food treats. All are available online or at pet superstores.

Brain Boosters/Play

Go-Go Bug (made by Petlinks System): This little ladybug toy will tap into your cat's hunting instincts and keep him occupied for hours as it zooms across the floor, Stickney says.

"Like a kid's car toy, you pull back and it goes 'zzz' all over the place," says Stickney, director of general surgery services at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "If the cat catches it, it kind of crinkles in their mouth. Cats loved this. They'd drop it and they'd go after it again."

Looney Loops (made by Petmate): Simpler is often better when it comes to cat toys, and these lightweight, curly plastic loops are the "simplest toy you can buy," says Scott, a lecturer in internal medicine at Texas A&M. They come three to a package and are easy for any cat to bat and roll around with their paws, she says. Scott says that even her 15-year-old arthritic cat, which can't play with many toys, had a ball with the colored loops "and has been enjoying them for two weeks in a row."

Kitty Kong with Kong Stuff'N Easy Treat (made by Kong):Squeeze a little of the Kong salmon paste (or your cat's dry kibble) into this bottom-heavy, refillable treat dispenser and sit back while your cat goes to town trying to retrieve the treat. Your cat will get a workout chasing after the toy as it rolls and bounces out of reach, Scott says.

"This would really be best for young cats that are a little bit on the hefty side who you want to encourage to exercise but still give a low-calorie treat," Scott says. "If you give the cat the toy with a treat inside, it may encourage them to exercise, which is a really hard thing to get cats to do on their own."

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Grooming

Grooming Foam for Cats (made by Earthbath): Cats loathe water so much that waterless soap is "the way to go" if your feline can't easily groom herself or needs a spot cleaning, Scott says. The green-tea scented foam from Earthbath made bathing a cinch with an older cat who isn't able to groom herself as she used to: "It got rid of some of her dirt and made her coat shinier. She just lay there the whole time the owner was rubbing it into her fur."

Stickney tested several grooming products on cats but did not find one he would recommend.

Soothers or Other Behavior Products

At Ease aromatherapy spray(made by WhiskerCity): The makers of this aromatherapy spray claim it creates "a calming environment for cats who are stressed," and Stickney found it to be "surprisingly effective" for relaxing an anxious cat, keeping the peace in a multi-animal household, or confining the animal to a certain area of the house.

"The cat wanted to be wherever the stuff was sprayed," even when that was next to a dog, Stickney says. "Any situation where a cat would be anxious, this would be great to make them happy."

Waterfall Cat Fountain (made by Petco): Got a cat that should drink more water? The waterfall fountain is a water bowl that makes the water trickle and bubble, attracting your cat to drink more than they would from a stagnant bowl.

"I would recommend this to owners who had cats who had medical problems where they need to drink a lot of water, or any owner who wants to improve their cat's water drinking experience," Scott says.

Easy Life Scratch Snuggle and Rest (made by Petstages): This oversized cardboard bowl triples as a scratching post, resting spot and entertainment zone for your favorite feline, Scott says. The product comes with catnip that you can sprinkle between the pieces of cardboard, alluring cats to scratch the material and rub their faces in it.

"This is a great gift for several reasons," Scott says. "It gives the cat a little bed where they can lay, and it's also a scratching post for cats who need something to scratch beyond the owner's furniture. And it can be a fun toy."

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Food Treats

Cat Grass Plus (made by Gimpet): Now indoor cats can smell and eat the grass they naturally crave without ever stepping outside. Just add water to the Cat Grass Plus container, and in less than a week, you've got a "lush bed of grass that's safe for them to eat," Scott says. The tub contains a blend of barley, oat, and/or wheat grass seeds.

The product is a great bet for families with young kids, who will delight in watching the grass grow, Scott says, "and it allows cats to literally taste a little bit of the outside world."

Friskies Crispies (made by Friskies): Cats couldn't get enough of these crunchy star-shaped treats that come in chicken, salmon, and cheese flavors, Stickney says.

"Once they got one, they kept circling around the owner to try to get more," he says. "If the cat is hiding under the bed, I could take the little bag and crinkle it and the cat would probably come running."

Whisker Lickin's Tender Moments (made by Purina): The cats that tested these chewable treats loved them so much they broke into the pantry and tore open the bag to get more, Stickney says.

They're perfect for older cats with problems chewing, but the bite-sized morsels are likely to keep any cat purring, he says.

"If you like to give your cat a treat occasionally, this is money well spent," Stickney says.

WebMD Pet Health Feature Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S on October 26, 2011

Sources

SOURCES:

Mark Stickney, DVM, director of general surgery services, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Katherine Scott, DVM, DACVIM, lecturer in internal medicine, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

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