Holigay 2012 Gift Guide: Animals and The People Who Love Them

Hugs and (puppy) kisses to Stef for the drawings and Scully for helping out.

Cats and dogs are important members of families across the globe — and you should be making note of that this season. After all, don’t you think your girlfriend would really love it if you showed up with a catnip-filled candy cane toy for her kitten tonight? I know I’m willing to melt on demand for whoever buys Eli a black leather jacket for Christmas to match the one I bought after Thanksgiving. Buying pets toys is a must, people! It makes everyone happy and when animals are happy, they ooze happiness that fills the air and your life.

As we write this Eli is curled up in that nook next to my ribcage, by the way. I dare you not to buy him a bone, honestly.

But it would be stupid for me to write a gift guide for animals without consulting one, so I consulted two –– Eli, my dog, and Scully, Stef’s cat. I was also in touch as well with Mary Tully, bonafide professional animal expert person.

Also Mary has a dog named Kai, and I assume he affects her life in a powerful way and impacts her daily decisions. And he’s adorable!

autostraddle pet gift guide holidays

So without further ado, the pet gift recommendations straight out of the mouths of three animals and the people who love them more deeply than you can imagine.

Gifts for Dogs, Cats, Hamsters, and Other Weirdo Animal Friends

Pet Decor and Furniture

Eli recently tore up the basket his bed was in because he was upset and/or playing while in or around it while I was at work. Even though he sleeps in my bed, I keep dog beds around because I think they’re important statement pieces. I’ve been dying to buy him this AKC plaid dog bed because I think it says a lot about me.

Stef also found hamster beds and “just thought you guys would like to be aware of the wide variety of handcrafted hamster beds available on Etsy, to the surprise of absolutely no-one.” Disclaimer: she doesn’t own a hamster.

STEF: i just emailed you four things, one of them was hamster beds
CARMEN: sweet beans
S: just a link to the search for hamster beds
S: it seems like a really lesbian thing
S: baby i want you to know i’m really serious about our relationship
S: so i got us this hamster bed as a promise
S: and a symbol of my commitment to our future
S: and when you’re done making the kale chips, maybe we can go to the shelter

Also, my friend Libby would love this Alphapooch Napper Cat Den, thankyouverymuch.

If Eli were a cat, he’d definitely want this cat condo. Stef recommends it:

Cats love small enclosed spaces. Cats love scratching things. Cats love scratching the small enclosed space they lie in and glare at you from.

Overall, though, I think what Eli and every animal in the world needs is a reliable ceramic bowl set. I love the french-inspired line from Wag.


Eli is a medium-sized ball of energy (read: Chihuahua/Terrier mix) who only gets listless when I am trying to use the laptop he sleeps on. I keep him busy with all kinds of toys, but he destroys anything that isn’t durable. Across the board, toys that last long just seem to make more sense. Try a Nylabone dinosaur for big chewers. A stuffingless dog toy is a cute gift — just bring a water bottle to fill it with! A traditional Nylabone never dies, and the DuraChew that looks like a tree but tastes like bacon is even better.

For cats, Stef and Scully recommend EEK! mice, which apparently come in ‘mice color’ and ‘I’m on drugs color.’ Stef’s testimonial sounds promising:

I have owned approximately two cats in my 29 years, and both of them enjoyed a fine catnip treat now and again, but I have never seen my typically poised and aloof cat go absolutely apeshit like she does when I bring her one of these catnip mice (the pink ones, obvs). She FREAKS OUT before I can even get the mouse out of the packaging and cuddles and licks and kicks him with such fervor that eventually her affections become overwhelming and he disappears under the refrigerator, never to be seen again.

Nothing comes close to this fucking cat play circuit, though.

And never forget – the funniest toy is anything cats chase and you hold on a stick. Try the KONG version, which is probably indestructible. The KONG line of indestructible everything for dogs that you can fill with peanut butter is also helpful, PS.

All pets love a good challenge, though, so maybe invest in a pet puzzle for your super smart friend who has a Yorkie that sits at the dining room table and eats out of a plate. The sophisticated kind of pet will appreciate this. Maybe also a Macaw. This seek-a-treat dog bone puzzle is absolutely adorable.

Then again, Kygen dog games come in every shape and seem to be built for puppy geniuses.

Also, Mary Tully really likes Fab.com’s pet section – and they sell the incredible, amazing, one-of-a-kind holy shit it is so cute NORTH POLE EXPRESS CAT SCRATCHER. So. Mary advises keeping it simple and buying catnip but I one hundred percent endorse the following image/product being integrated more into your real life.

But it doesn’t end there! Mary says:

Fab.com is a great place to find unique, quality products of all kinds! They have some strange shit. But some really rad stuff too. Seriously they have everything from toys to pet clothing, collars, scratching posts, beds, bones, all of it. EVEN SWANKY LEATHER POO BAG HOLDERS!!!! It is technically a design website so most of their products are aesthetically pleasing/ interesting.You won’t see this stuff at Petco, which is why I like it:) Also, if you are looking for toys for intense chewers, they have so many things!

Excuse me while I buy a leather shit-holding pouch for my pet so I’m never seen as human again, but instead as an indestructible lesbian animal lover with an arsenal of kick-ass leather goods.


Someone has the munchies

After your pet has played with all those toys, it’s going to need some serious snackage. I’m not sayin’ that Eli and I get the munchies a lot a la Scooby Doo and Shaggy, but we do. And Stef gets it, too — how nice it is to feed your pet well and know they’re loving food the way you do:

I don’t think Scully would actually mind eating the same food every day, since she was born on the mean streets and spent most of her kittenhood dumpster diving. Still, for the sake of spoiling her, I really like to switch it up and occasionally bring her things like Meow Luau and Polynesian BBQ. There is something uniquely satisfying about your cat’s dinner being fancier than yours.

Eli loves Beggin’ Strips, which seems appropriate because the advertising is so good, and I once ate smoothies with him because doggie smoothies exist and that’s fucking amazing. If you’re trying to do well by them, feed your dog the natural shit like Wellness WellBars, or Blue Dog Bakery low-fat treats. My mom swore by Mother Hubbard because she liked the name, but my Chihuahua loved them, too. And who doesn’t love a big ol’ actual piece of lamb rib holy shit did I just touch that ew what the fuck Eli, I love you too much. They’re called Smokehouse Meaty Mammoth bones, and he can’t get enough of ’em. Gnaw, man. If your dog has a sweet tooth pick up a peanut-butter filled bone. Meanwhile, Stef buys the easily pleased Scully Weruva Canned Cat Food as a special treat every once in a while.

Mary also found amazing vegan treat recipes, so you can DIY your pet or your girlfriend’s pet or your mom’s pet some food without even clicking your mouse! It may involve walking to the kitchen though, so get ready. Here’s the recipes for dogs and cats, and also — Bren wrote up one a long time ago and I still insist it’s amazing.

Animal Clothing

The thing about my dog is that he’s even cuter when he’s dressed up — and finding him stuff is super easy because Eli happens to wear a size 3Mo. for babies and I just buy him used sweater vests in thrift stores. He also loves anything that attaches to his body at the neck, like collars and bowties. He’s more dapper than I am but we have the same hair color so it doesn’t matter, you know?

eli and me, xxxmas 2011

Your dog or cat or, really, even hamster could benefit from some clothing. After all, ’tis the season to be snuggie.

Also, four for anyone who buys Eli a smoking jacket.

dog smoking jacket


Gifts for People with Pets and Other Animal Lover Weirdos

You’ll never forget your dog now that I’ve bought you a custom-printed mug of his face!!


Because I love my dog, there are things I want people to buy for me and him that nobody could possibly understand. Take, for example, the book Eli, No! which I actually did not write but could have, based on the imagery and plot alone.

You might also consider getting people coffee table books about animals. I’m pretty sure SNOG has you covered.

If your pet-loving friends need a bit of help, try training books by Victoria Stillwell and Karen Pryor. They’re Mary-Approved, meaning they’re amazing for real.


If someone loves animals, chances are they love The Aristocats, Milo and Otis, Benji, Oliver & Company, Homeward Bound, Air Bud, and/or Beethoven, right? How about My Dog Skip?

Petgo Hands Free Bicycle Leash

You’re into girls who like dogs, maybe. Is there really a chance you won’t ever need this? Buy one and keep it on hand for your next hipster girlfriend with a pug to walk.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. The kitten in the cat play circuit photo is SO EXCITED!
    Though if your cat’s anything like mine, the only things they will play with are chile peppers and backpack straps, so shopping for cat toys is useless.

    • Mine only play with things people would garbage. Bottle caps, Q-tips, broken shoelaces, decorative pom-poms that fell the hot watter bottle cover… big fun. Toy I bought from the shops… meh.

        • I liked it better when you were verbing the word garbage. Also, I am pretty sure I showed you my weirdo cat’s cork obsession, didn’t I?

          • I was going to say you’re just going to have to head on over to asschat and show us again, but then I realized you’re nowhere near your cat for another few weeks, so no cat chat. :(

    • Our cat is ridiculous. All she does all day is bring sticks in from outside, and leave them everywhere. It’s not unusual for me to get home and pick up 20 or more from around the house.

    • My cats will play with cat toys, but they’ll also play with random weird shit (like dust bunnies, my stepdad’s used ear plugs, any twist tie that falls on the floor…). When I’m at my parents’ house I often see one chomping on something they found that isn’t food and have to check to make sure it’s not something that will hurt them/make them sick. Cats are such weirdos!

  2. My dog threw up a mass of chewed up Nylabone pieces. It was like they congealed in his stomach or something. So we switched to rawhides, and there hasn’t been a problem since.

  3. oh this is perfect! I now found the best present for my stepmoms dog who is adorable. I’m gonna get in so much trouble cause his present is gonna be amazing while she’ll get something like a scented candle.

  4. My kittens love that play circuit thingie so hard. The baby one wears the exact same expression as the cat pictured while playing it. i really want to get them that north pole cat scratcher, that is neat.

  5. I have that exact Cat Condo thing! My aunt gave me theirs after their cat passed away, and my Ozzy loves it. When he was a kitten, he’d climb around inside it with his stuffed toys (yes, he would actually pick up his toys and carry them in there to play with them). Now that he’s older, he curls up on top and sleeps in the sun for hours.

  6. I don’t have a pet so I don’t know why I just read this whole thing but I just read this whole thing.

  7. Guys, don’t put clothes on your rabbits…they can get terrified from that, and rabbits can die from fear. :/

  8. omg I want it all and I DON’T have a cat or dog… hopefully one day soon!! The snuggie rules and that Cat Den is CHIC!

  9. I personally couldn’t speak more highly of kitty fishing poles. Casting for cats! Some places sell specifically cat designed poles but you a kiddy pole with a catnip mouse tied around the end works great as well.

  10. Re: things that you hold on a stick – when my cat Petey was a kitten, he’d get so obsessed with those feathers-on-a-stick toy that he’d actually hiss and growl at it, like it was an actual animal he was trying to kill. He’d also find that toy and, despite the fact that it was bigger than he was, carry it around the house so he could play with it by hissing and growling. It was the most adorable thing ever.

  11. As long as my imaginary future girlfriend will have a pet, I’m going to say that she has a ten pound miniature dachsie who loves spooning. DREAMING BIG.

  12. You got everything but pet portraits yo! Esp ones made with extra lesbo love. http://www.facebook.com/rufflesartstudio

    Oh and Molly Mutt beds are amaze, this is what *this* dog lover wants for xmas: http://www.mollymutt.com

    AND (this is my gift idea for my dog loving gf, hope she doesn’t check AS) …dog classes! You can find some really cute ones out there, I’m signing us up for circus class. Ok, so its kinda for me too. Buaha.

  13. my favourite thing is the dinosaur shaped nylabone. especially the part of the description that says “dinosaur varies.” hahahaha!

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