I'm going to depart from my normal writer oriented postings and actually do some product endorsements. If you don't own a cat, or you don't have a cat lover on your Christmas list, you can skip this post. Or just go to the end and watch the video.
I've been a cat person all my life, but the worst part about being owned by a--er, I mean, owning a cat is, of course, the litter box. If only your cat would use the toilet! (I had a cat when I was younger who taught himself to use the toilet, something I've never managed to convince another cat to do.) In lieu of that, the Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box is the next best thing. I've been using this for nearly a year and it's the best litter box EV-VER. It's designed so you roll it to the side. The unclumped litter goes through a grill, the soiled stuff goes into the tray on the right. You pull out the tray and dump it. Add some fresh litter through the doorway and voila! You're done. Best ever.
(If you're a cat person, you've probably seen ads for those self-cleaning cat boxes, but I have a friend who bought one, and it kept breaking down. She went through several replacement litter boxes before she gave up the fight.)
I'd seen these around and always thought they looked interesting. When I finally broke down and bought a Petmate Crazy Circle Interactive Cat Toy, my cat went nuts over it. That first day, he must have played with it for over an hour. That went on for a week or so. When he stops playing with it, I put it away for a while. When I bring it back out, he goes crazy over it all over again.
Need a stocking stuffer? SmartyKat Fish Flop Crinkle Toys are cheap and my cats really like them. Walter, the marmalade kitty I have on an extended cat sitting deal, especially loves these. Walter isn't the pushiest cat in the world--until I throw one of these out. Then he elbows Puss-Puss out of the way to take possession. And yes, I know they look like they're not much of anything, but he will play with it for the better part of an hour, tossing it, pouncing on it, carrying it around in his mouth. The only drawback is that they're small and so when he does eventually lose interest, it might be under a chair or behind the couch--some place you'll never find it without moving all the furniture. Still, they're cheap, so now and then I break out a new one for him. Hm. He hasn't had one for a while. I think it's time.
And then of course, there's that perennial favorite--Catnip. There are two varieties of catnip: fresh and dried. If you've never seen a cat with fresh 'nip, you've missed one of the best shows in the world. They go absolutely bonkers for it. Even the mellowest cat in the world will get territorial if you try to take it away from him. It's not hard to grow, but there are logistical problems. If you plant it outside, you'll draw every cat for miles. If you plant it indoors, you need a place the cat can't get to--and they can reach places that will surprise you when the reward is fresh catnip. If they can reach the plant, they'll gorge themselves on the leaves and leave you with a bunch of denuded stems. Repeated attacks of this sort eventually kills the plant. But it's fun while it lasts.
I discovered this fall that the neighbor of one of the local farmers I know grows catnip to sell the seed, so I'm hoping I'll have a source of fresh 'nip next year. In the meantime, I'm getting by with the dried variety. I don't think brand matters much with this. Cats love this stuff even in this less potent form, so if you don't have access to fresh, which most of us don't, they'll still enjoy this.
In fact, catnip is, in my opinion, as essential as their food if you own a cat.
Word on the street is that I may be getting PetSafe ScatMat Electronic Indoor Pet Training Mat for Christmas. They're power by a 9-volt battery, so I'm not worried that it will actually hurt the cats. Hopefully, it will train them not to go places I don't want them to be. Huh. Training cats. That's a unique concept. Then again, think I could grow catnip if I put it in the middle of the mat? No, I guess not. Either way you go with that scenario, there's some torture involved.
BTW, these come in a semicircle as well so you can protect your Christmas tree.
So that's my holiday list for the cat lover in your life. Certified by the crazy cat lady writer.
If you're a cat person, I'd love to hear what your cats like.