20+ Playful Gift Ideas for Animal Lovers and Their Pets

Photo by Manuel Meza on Unsplash

Alright, I know, the use of the word “parent” to refer to a human-animal relationship is controversial at best, and I am in no way suggesting that they can literally be considered comparable–either emotionally or in terms of labor. 

However. Many of us with so-called “fur babies,” (I myself am partial to dwarf hamsters) do develop sincere attachments and this relationship can become a central part of our identity. “I am a cat person.” “I am a dog person.” “I prefer snakes to people.” Etc.


So, for all those critter enthusiasts out there–here’s some gifts for their next birthday (or that of their pets).


Photo by Marthijn Brinks on Unsplash

As I said, I have a dwarf hamster named Jane. Hamsters are tiny little bundles of fluffy cuteness.  They also need way more space than is often accounted for. If you’ve ever seen hamster cages on TV, you’ve likely seen tiny, cramped boxes, maybe with a few tubes, barely tall enough for them to crawl around in.

Which is horrifying because hamsters are active! They are curious and gymnastic, and need a lot of room. When buying for a hamster/guinea pig owner, consider upgrading their living space. Their little friends will thank you. Side note: this is a great opportunity to show off those DIY skills you’ve been keeping on the down low. All kinds of incredible cages can be made with a few household items


Other small critters who could use cage upgrades? Birds, reptiles, fish, and arachnids. When in doubt, opt for more space. Do you want to be under house arrest just because “you can walk around, it’s fine.” I didn’t think so.

If you’re searching for something a bit larger–say, just for example, a cat–you’re less likely to need a cage, and more likely to need something like this (completely awesome) cat tree. Do make sure you have an understanding of where the cat home might fit into the human home. 


Dog beds (or dog… modern… homes?) should be sized to the human home, yes–nothing too big for the urban studio–but also to the size of dog. I’m sure a small dog wouldn’t mind an oversized bed, but the huskies might object to trying to squish onto a chihuahua size bed.


Photo by Jesper Brouwers on Unsplash

Alright, I’m gonna start with hamsters again because they’re so often neglected. And it’s rude. This Critter cruiser will dress up the standard hamster ball and let their ball of adorable fluff cruise across the floor in style. 

Other good options for the small critters? Anything they can climb. Like this rope play wall. Do make sure it’s safe to chew, because that will definitely be part of the action


If you haven’t seen one of the many adorable videos of the ball throwing machine for dogs, you’re missing out! Now, I mostly advocate for people engaging directly in these kinds of activities with their pets, since it’s good for both human and animal to bond in this way. However. I also live life, so I get it when that bonding time just doesn’t happen. Enter the automatic ball launcher for dogs. Perfect for the busy pet owner. Even perfect-er for the very very happy puppy.


Toys for cats, you ask? Your soul. They’ll happily bat it across the floor. But they’ve probably already taken it anyway.


Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

This is one gift that I encourage you to DIY. So much of pet treats are mostly just overpriced crap. Painful, but true. And more pets should be eating food that’s remarkably similar to what’s good for us. (Okay, check with your vet on that last one. I’m definitely not an expert here!) 


There are lots of great recipes out there, so let’s just get you started. Begin here for dog and cat treats. And what about all our other adorable furred, feathered, and scaled little loves? For a caged bird, you can use the same treats you might offer at a bird feeder, with some flavorful upgrades. For reptiles, start here. And for hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, and other small fluffy nuggets, it can be as simple as dehydrating strawberries in your oven. Delicious!


Photo by Taylor Kopel on Unsplash

Unless you know for sure that a) your giftee likes to dress their pets up, and/or b) the pet in question is comfortable wearing clothing… just leave that one alone. Both in comfort and style, clothes on animals skew from personal taste to seriously no

However, for mid-size or larger animals that venture outside, collars and leashes are often advisable. Leave the technical needs to the vets (unless–are you a vet? Then go wild), and focus on aesthetics. Etsy is a great place to look for these kinds of things because you can find an incredible intersection of form and function. 


I mean, seriously, do you have $50k to spend on a dog collar? ‘Cause… Or perhaps you only have a couple thousand and are shopping for a cat. Whatever shall you do? But there are also leather collars with an air of sophistication and playful cloth collars that can highlight just about any personality. 


Whether you’re looking for leather, rope, or cloth leashes, you’ll be covered there, too. I like this one made from climbing rope as a nice hobby tie-in (no pun intended). And hey, remember to pay attention to the size of the animal and any lifestyle requirements of their associated human? (Vegan? That would be a no to the leather accouterments, then.) 

Gifting for someone else’s pets is two layers deep, so I respect anyone willing to take on the challenge. Remember to think of the intersection of person, pet, and preference, and gift on!

[This post includes products from… Chewy, Epicuricloud, Etsy, For the Love of Cooking, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, PetCo, Pet Keen, PetSmart, Reptiles MagazineWayfair.]

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