Chances are, you’ve got someone on your gift-giving list that falls under the “pet lover” category. A 2018/2019 survey from the American Pet Products Association (APA) showed that 68 percent of US households own a pet— the rough equivalent of about 85 million people. With a majority of the population feeling the animal love, it’s safe to assume that a present revolving around a pet will be right up the alley of someone you’re buying for. The best pet lover gifts honor the bond between human and companion, and there’s no shortage of personal, unique finds out there that do just that.
Why are pets so important to their owners?
In addition to the obvious unconditional love pets provide to their owners, there are a multitude of scientifically-proven benefits to having an animal in one’s life, right down to the physical level.
A 1999 study out of the University of Buffalo found that having a dog or a cat as a pet controlled blood pressure better than pharmaceutical ACE inhibitors. “This study shows that if you have high blood pressure, a pet is very good for you when you’re under stress, and pet ownership is especially good for you if you have a limited support system,” university research assistant and professor of medicine, Karen Allen, Ph.D., said at the time.
A subsequent 2002 study from the same university published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that people may find more support in their animals than their spouses — or even their friends. “Our participants’ responses to stress, combined with their descriptions of the meaning of pets in their lives, suggest to us that social support can indeed cross species,” wrote Allen, who acted as the study’s lead.
No wonder 2019 research from Psychology Today suggests that 65 percent of pet owners see themselves as “parents!”
The Best Pet Lover Gifts
Whether you’re shopping for a cat lover, a dog lover, a bird lover, or someone with an animal that’s … slightly more exotic, FIRST for Women has got you covered. We’ve got a head start on your holiday shopping with a roundup of 12 of the most unique pet lover gifts around. Keep scrolling for FIRST’s top picks for the best pet lover gifts on the market.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Custom Pet Mug
Sara DeBono Custom Pet Mug
Where to buy: From $25.91, Etsy
Pet lovers can pay homage to their pets each and every morning thanks to this personalized pet mug. Simply add this coffee cup to your cart, then send the artist a shot of the pet you want to be hand-painted. You can also choose to include the animal’s name and a sentence that will appear on the back of the mug.
Custom Animal Print Necklace
Custom Picture Animal Necklace
Where to buy: $29, Amazon
Let your favorite "paw-son" wear their heart around their neck with this personalized pet photo necklace with an 18” chain. Get a cat, dog, fish, gerbil, lizard, or other creature etched onto the sterling silver after providing a photo of the pet. Text of up to 50 characters can also be included on the back. With an 87 percent of buyers giving this product a five-star review, you can safely bet the person you gift it to will be thrilled.
Paw Photo And Impression Kit
Pearhead Paw Prints Wall Frame and Impression Kit
Where to buy: $24.95, Chewy
Not only does this unique solid wood shadowbox frame come equipped with a beige beveled mat that will allow pet parents to show off their best photo of their furry friend in style, they’ll get a impression kit of non-toxic air-drying clay, a rolling pin, and a clay-shaping ruler that will allow them to include an impression of their pet’s paw alongside the picture. Genius!
Cat Scratch Book Ends
Cat Scratch Bookends
Where to buy: $65, Uncommon Goods
Feline lovers will flip for these cat-shaped bookends. Hand-cut from carbon steel with extended metal at the base, they’re strong enough to hold up even the most sturdy of books. Take it from Uncommon Goods reviewers, 100 percent of which would recommend this décor to a friend. Wrote one happy shopper: “Bookends were beautifully made, sturdy and just what I needed for a gift. Nicer in person than the picture indicates online.”
Custom Felt Animal Doll
Custom Felt Pet Doll
Where to buy: From $105, Etsy
These incredibly life-like needle-felt animals are hand-crafted in the likeness of your giftee’s pet. Made from wire armature and all-natural wool, these teeny dolls perfectly capture the essence of any animal your loved one might want to honor, from dogs and cats to bunnies, ferrets, and guinea pigs. You’ll even get final approval of the design before customization begins! We recommended acting fast if you plan to gift these for the holidays, however, as the waiting list is currently at two months for miniature sizing. (Larger sizes are also available.)
Rescue Pet Pillow
Rescue Pet Custom Photo Pillow
Where to buy $100, Uncommon Goods
When a rescue animal joins a family it's a special day, indeed, and these cotton and synthetic down pillows commemorate the occasion beautifully. Individual rescue cat or dogs are featured on the pillow's front when you provide a photo along with their name and “Gotcha Day” date. A cute poem by Martin Gellar in honor of rescues is featured on the back. Best of all, $5 of every purchase will go toward New York adoption non-profit Rescue City to help animals in need.
Halfinger Cat Slippers
Where to buy: $85.95, Nordstrom
These darling cat slippers are made from natural, cozy wool and feature feline appliqués at the toes.
Reviewers say they’re comfortable, warm, and have great arch support to boot. “I stalked these for awhile,” one Nordstrom shopper admitted. “While a bit pricey for slippers, totally worth it. Lightweight but warm. They hug your foot and feel so nice to walk in.”
Sterling Silver Bird Bracelet
Where to buy: From $69.99, Etsy
Remind the bird lover in your in life how much you love them with this dainty tree leaf bracelet. Available in 10K, 14K, or 18K sterling silver or solid rose, white, or yellow gold, you can tailor this piece to your recipient’s preferences. You can also choose the length (longer options can be worn as anklets), and there’s space for one hand-engraved initial, making it a truly bespoke gift.
Where to buy: From $35, Barkbox
It probably goes without saying that having a pet is expensive — APA’s study found that pet owners will collectively spend an approximate $75.38 billion on their animals in 2019 between vet visits, food, toys, and the like. Ease their burden a bit with a gift from dog subscription service Barkbox. Each box features a themed collection of two toys, two bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. You can make a one-time purchase or keep the goods coming for three, six, or 12 months. There’s also an option to customize your gift to best align with the size of your loved one’s dog.
Hallmark Pet Ornament
Hallmark My First Christmas Pet Photo Holder
Where to buy: $15.99, Amazon
Help your favorite new pet owner remember their first holiday with their animal with this sweet “My first Christmas” ornament from Hallmark. Marked with the year and a place to put a photo of a pup, kitten, or other animal, this frame is a gift that’s sure to be cherished for years to come
Pet Winery Cat Wine
Where to buy: $8.64, Amazon
Make sure your favorite wine lover never has to drink alone with this all-natural cat wine from Pet Winery. While their cat won’t get drunk, per se (this wine is infused with cat nip instead of alcohol), it will make for a nice, relaxing evening. This feline-friendly beverage is also infused with wild Alaskan salmon oil to promote a shiny coat and healthy joints.
Cape May Birdhouse
Cape May Cottage Birdhouse
Where to buy: $65, Home Depot
Anyone with even the slightest appreciation for birds will be impressed with this stunning Cape May cottage replica birdhouse. It features a jaw-dropping Victorian design, with a front porch, wraparound balcony, pine-shingled roof and a removable backing for cleaning. Cape May, New Jersey, is a top birding location, so it’s also a nod to the animal’s natural habitat.