If there’s one gift you shouldn’t give over the holidays, it’s a pet. Not only are holiday homes littered with potential health risks, they’re chaotic and overwhelming places for pets trying to acclimate to new surroundings. Even more importantly, plenty of pets given as presents end up not-so-merrily in shelters after the season is over. So think twice about that Christmas kitten and consider these great alternatives instead:
Pet Adoption and Pet Care Gift Certificates
Just because the holidays aren’t the right time to give a pet as a gift doesn’t mean you can’t give one once the holidays are over. Offered by most humane societies, pet adoption gift certificates show your commitment to buying an animal companion once the time is right. And, better yet, paired with an environmentally-friendly pet toy or a good dog training book, it also shows your commitment to humane and sustainable pet ownership.
Personalized Stuffed Animals
For young children not mature enough to care for a live animal, personalized stuffed animals are a one-of-a-kind, cuddly alternative. Or if you’re looking for something that will make your stuffed animal gift really stand out, there’s always Build-A-Bear. All the rage with the pre-kinder set, Build-A-Bear workshops let kids pick, assemble and customize their own personalized pet friends.
Ideal gifts for young children, virtual pets are fantastic gift alternatives to live pets. Different pets have different abilities but in general a virtual pet is an interactive 3D toy that kids play with online. Some virtual pets, like Webkinz even come with plush companions so children can take their pets with them and play even when they don’t have computer access.
What’s the best part about a robotic pet? No midnight walks or litter boxes! And with price tags ranging from impulse-aisle-size to scooter-size, there are a slew of fun, interesting and just plain amazing robotic and remote control pets available. From hamster families and chirping robot chicks to lifelike puppies that respond to voice commands and robotic dogs that learn, robot animals are a great gift idea for big kids of any age.
Great gifts for grandparents and adults who love animals but may not want the responsibility of a full-time pet, consider zoo passes. Offered by most local zoological societies, zoo passes usually offer free year-round admission, gift shop discounts, and access to members-only special events, field trips and publications. Great gifts for travelers too, zoo passes often also include free or discounted admission to zoos and aquariums throughout the country.