Birthday Party for Your Cat

Most of us wouldn't dream of missing a loved one's birthday, right? But when was the last time you celebrated your precious cat's birthday? Well, it turns out that cat birthday parties are increasing in popularity these days. "Parties make a cat feel pampered and spoiled," says Joan Goodman, a pet party planner in Austin, Texas. "And it creates an opportunity for owners to express love and devotion."

Check out these ideas for throwing the perfect birthday bash:

A Limited Guest List
As with any party, the first step is planning your guest list. While the idea of a room filled with partygoers might sound great to you, it would be pretty uncomfortable for a cat. Big crowds are usually stressful -- if not traumatic -- for felines. And that's not all. Because cats are territorial by nature, they tend to dislike other felines that are unknown to them. It's best to limit your guest list to family members, other pets in the household, and maybe some human friends who your cat knows well, says Goodman.

For New York City-based filmmaker Cevin Soling and his girlfriend, a birthday bash for their mixed-breed cat Dr. Claw usually consists of only two guests. "We play with him and give him lots of attention the entire evening," Soling explains. "This year is his eighteenth birthday, and I'm already stocking up on treats and toys for this monumental event."  

Decorating and Gift Giving
Plan to host the birthday party in a cozy room, where your cat can feel secure. Bring together festive and playful cat-centric party supplies including hats, plates, napkins, cat toys, laser pens and even catnip. "Sprinkle a little catnip on the floor, and let the cat roll around in it," says Beth Adelman, certified cat behaviorist and board member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Catnip is like kitty champagne, so let your cat enjoy its birthday cocktail.

If you have decided to invite non-cat guests (a.k.a. humans), don't be shy about telling them your cat loves to receive feline-friendly toys and treats. You can even register for cat products online at stores like Target, or set up a wish list at Amazon. But when it comes time to actually give gifts to the birthday kitty, it is safest to eliminate the decorative wrapping. Ribbons, string and slivers of paper can be dangerous to cats if ingested. "Cats can easily choke on this material," warns Albert Burchman, a veterinarian in the Bronx, N.Y. "Discard it immediately."

Meow-worthy Menu 
The menu for your party can be creative -- with cat-themed cuisine for the human guests and special feline fare for the guest of honor. People can nibble on kitschy treats like Goldfish crackers or Kit-Kat candy bars. If you're serving a main course, seafood will fit right in with your theme. For dessert, serve cupcakes decorated to look like the face of a cat. Use M&Ms for eyes and nose, shoestring licorice for the whiskers and mouth, and triangle-shaped cookies for ears. But whatever you do, do not allow any cat to partake in its own birthday cake. Not only are cats unable to taste sweets, warns Adelman, but chocolate can be toxic to them. Instead, serve your cat a platter of its favorite specialty entrees such as canned tuna, sardines, or sliced turkey. Keep portions small. Overfeeding your kitty -- even on its birthday -- will just leave it feeling sick and miserable...a bona fide buzz kill for any party.

Movies, Music and Fun
No soiree would be complete without movies and music. Goodman suggests entertaining your guests with cat-theme movies such as "Garfield: The Movie" or "The Adventures of Milo and Otis." Or try feline favorites such as "Video Catnip," which features footage of squirrels and birds seen from a cat's-eye level.

If your cat movies are played with the sound off, you can create the purrfect mood with music. You can't go wrong with the soundtrack to the Broadway musical "Cats." Other tabby-friendly tunes include: Jamie Anderson's "When Cats Rule the World," Al Stewart's "The Year of the Cat," Jethro Tull's "And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps," The Cure's "The Love Cats," and Cheryl Wheeler's "Meow." Cats' ears are extremely sensitive, so avoid playing your meow music mix too loudly.

At the party, make sure your cat is the center of attention. If your cat receives toys, give it the opportunity to play with them and show off for your party guests. Barbara Florio Graham of Ottawa, Canada, encourages her mixed-breed cat to do tricks for guests. "My cat knows how to shake hands and fetch," she explains.

Demonstrating its talents is a great way to make the cat the star of the show. Take lots of pictures to commemorate the occasion. And try not to get too caught up in talking to human guests that you end up ignoring the guest of honor. After all, your cat is the reason you're all here, so be sure to lavish extra attention and cuddles on your feline friend.

Goodie Bags and Goodbyes
When the birthday bash winds down, send guests home with cat-themed trinkets, such as a plush toy, stickers, or notepads. You can even put goodies inside a paper bag decorated to look like a cat's face.

As you tuck your cat in for the night, wish your pet the best birthday ever. And, as Goodman suggests, spend a moment reflecting on the years you've shared together. "As you think back on all the good times, just think about all the special moments yet to come," she concludes. Now that's a reason to celebrate!