Pets are family. Cute, often-fuzzy, sometimes-maniacal family—and there are SO MANY reasons to celebrate them. We’ve compiled some ideas for party occasions ranging from birthdays to just-because-you-want-tos to help inspire your first (or next) pet celebration.
Ours is also one of the only articles on this subject that will not earnestly use the pun “paw-ty.” You’re welcome.
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Before we get into it: These party ideas are meant to be centered around what will actually make your pets feel celebrated. We know pets in clothes are cute and you should find ways to commemorate the day for yourself, but don’t do anything at the expense of your pet’s happiness, comfort or safety. For example:
- If your corgi has chewed tiny sweaters since he was two months old, don’t make him wear things (at least for more than a QUICK photo).
- If your cat would rather fall into a bathtub than sit still for pictures or see the flash of a camera, don’t force a whole tail-twitch-inducing photoshoot.
Pets have birthdays, just like us! If you don’t know the exact date or even the date you adopted them, that’s totally cool. Pick a date that’s sentimental or a date within the season your pet most enjoys. They will most likely not be offended.
Gotcha Day Party
Adoptions are a great time for a party if you’ve got an animal that doesn’t need an extended adjustment period. They’re in their new home with their new family; what better way to celebrate than by giving them a warm welcome party? Some people like to celebrate their pet’s Gotcha Day anniversary every year.
If the fur babies have been too under the weather for their usual shenanigans, it’s a cause for celebration when they’re back on their mischief. It will feel really good for your pet to do the things they’ve been unable to, and it will feel even better for you to see it.
Celebration of Life
You don’t have to think about this one too much right now (unless you do <3), but a celebration of life party for your pet might be the perfect way for your family, and all others who loved your baby, to say their good-byes. Pets deserve a proper send-off, too.
You didn’t think the bummer one would be the last one, did you? You don’t need any reason other than love to celebrate your pet, just like you don’t need any reason other than love to celebrate your people. Cringe is a construct, and if pet parties make you and your animal happy then THROW! THEM!
No matter your type of pet or size of party, there are some amazing activities out there to make their day special. Just keep your definition of the word “party” flexible—especially the part that includes a potentially overwhelming number of beings in attendance.
- Pirate Pups: If you’ve got access to the right location or don’t give a heck about your yard, bury some treasures. Dogs who like to dig will love unearthing pretty much anything.
- Extreme Zoomies: Get two groups of folks to stand on opposite ends of a field, or some other large running space, and call the dog of honor (and their friends) back and forth. Applaud, cheer and give treats whenever they reach a side, and watch them feel like a superstar. Plus, you get a sweet, tired dog at the end.
- Peanut Butter Painting: There are lots of tutorials online, but in summation: Dollop some paint globs on a canvas, securely wrap the canvas in plastic wrap and a plastic bag, and then spread out a healthy amount of peanut butter* and other healthy treats for your dog(s) to lick up. When you remove the plastic, voila, dog-made art! You get a keepsake, your dog gets a treat and if you have dog guests then they get party favors.
- Adventure: If you’ve got an active dog and a good place to trek, go for an extra long run, walk, hike, boat-ride, etc. Let your dog pick all the paths. Wait while they sniff all the things. Make swim stops as if you live in a home immune to mud and wet-dog smell.
- Get an Event Space: If your dog is into being social and you don’t want to host things in your own space, go to a dog park, dog bar or other dog-friendly area. You can be casual about it or rent out your own room/table to avoid stranger-danger anxiety.
- Cats! At the (Almost Silent) Disco: If you haven’t watched videos of cats playing with disco balls, what are you even still doing here? Get a cat-friendly disco ball (there are even disco ball ornaments that might be a good option), play some ABBA at an undisturbing volume, and let your cat(s) go nuts.
- Rrrave: Very similar to the disco idea but with more humans. Substitute disco balls for laser pointers.* This seems to be an especially popular idea if you want to get more human guests involved in celebrating your kitty. Give everyone a laser pointer, and let your kitty chase, stalk and pounce to their heart’s content.
- Cat Kingdom: Build your kitty a cardboard castle for them to explore and/or destroy. Guests can bring additional boxes to add to the castle. You could even have everyone build it together. You’ll have so much cardboard to recycle, but it’ll be worth it.
- Tunnel Vision: Make a tunnel maze and plant some different treats and toys in different paths. Your cat will feel stimulated and you and any guests can enjoy glimpses of a cat-size lump bumbling along the tubes.
- Field Trip: If your cat doesn’t mind a harness and a leash, you can take them to a fun new place outside.* They’ll have fun sniffing things, chasing bugs and trying to eat grass. You can also bring an x-pen if you and your kitty would prefer some penned-in picnicking on a nice day.
Other Animal Parties
Maybe they don’t have fur. Or they can’t fetch. Or they’re not exactly cuddly. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less deserving of a celebration. Here are some ideas for smaller, less mainstream pets.
- Ballers: Consider taking your hamster to a fun new place* and let them run around in their ball. Just make sure the area is flat, enclosed and safe from neighborhood predators. These specs go for most other small animals, too. Minus the putting-them-in-a-ball part.
- Forage Wars: Bunnies love foraging for treats! Buy a forage mat, or create your own, and hide healthy treats for your bunny to find. If you already forage with your bunny, add an extra-special treat to the mix or even consider adding an extra mat. Some other animals that enjoy foraging include turtles, birds, hamsters and chinchillas.
- Routine But Spicy: With any animal, celebrating by making something that’s already part of the daily routine just a little bit more special is always a safe bet. So is opening presents! Include as many guests as your animal (and you) would be comfy having, and they can shower your baby with gifts.*
Whether you want to bake or buy treats, there are so many cute ways to treat your fur babies (or scale babies) AND your people. Just remember that moderation is key so that no one gets sick.
Homemade Pet Goodies
If you’re feeling domestic, we’ve included a safe ingredients table for home-baked treats. There are so many recipes you can find online for guidance, but ingredients that are generally safe for your dogs and cats are as follows. Bolded ingredients are particular favorites!
- Safe base ingredients: Flour, gluten-free oat flour, baking soda, carrots, oil, potato
- Safe binding agents: Honey, peanut butter, eggs, applesauce, bacon fat, pumpkin, oat milk, bananas
- Safe edible decorations: Peanut butter, yogurt, bacon crumbles, carob chips
- Safe base ingredients: Rice flour, tuna, salmon, mussels, squid, chicken, sweet potato
- Safe binding agents: Egg whites, eggs
- Safe edible decorations: Cheese, shrimp, mashed potato (as frosting)
You can use these ingredients to make dog biscuits, cat treats, cakes, cupcakes and meatballs. Some online recipes suggest that cakes with these ingredients can be tasty for humans, too. No promises of that on our end, but we can offer this holiday-themed Hallmark recipe.
For rodents and reptiles, your recipe needs to be pretty specific to be safe, so we recommend finding a vet-approved recipe like this one and following it exactly!
There are also pre-made mixes to simplify the process, but check with your vet in case your baby has even more specific needs.
Homemade treats can spoil quickly, and too many of them aren’t good for your pet anyway. So if you’re going to bake up a storm, it’s a good idea to send guests home with leftovers for the pets in their lives. It’s also just a nice way to show your appreciation for their pet’s stellar party behavior.
Fun tips for doggy (and other pet) bags:
- Throw in a toy just in case other pets don’t like your baking. This is no time for ego.
- Use takeaway bags for human food, too! This way, guests who don’t have their own pets can still walk away with a party favor. To avoid mixing pet and human foods, you can have a build-your-own-bag station setup.
- If you have a lot of dog owners, keychain doggy bag dispensers are a great, practical gift that can still prompt guests to take leftovers.
- Include a thank-you card to show your appreciation even more.
Just because this food is for humans, doesn’t mean it can’t be themed, y’all. We do advise clear labels so that guests don’t accidentally feed a human treat to a pet, though. Or vice versa.
Some people treats that can fit any theme:
- Bakery-style sugar cookies with relevant icing designs
- Any kind of cookie in the shape of your pet
- Pawprint cookies (like thumbprint or linzer cookies but with a paw shape)
- Cat poop cookies (my mom did this for Halloween once, and there are many, MANY ways to make pet poop jokes if you’ve got the guts)
- Chips and dip in pet bowls
- Pizza with toppings in the shape of your pet
- Pet pancakes—you can even have a pancake party and try to make accurate shapes with the batter!
- Normie food but with themed serve ware. This can include the usual plates, napkins, utensils and/or more eccentric options like taco holders, mugs and platters
Your animal will most likely not care how the house looks, so this part is for you! Just make sure the decorations you’re using are animal-friendly.
Pet Party Themes
- Autumn: Ready some backyard leaf piles, put out some decorative gourds and sprinkle in some hints of Halloween.
- Winter: String up some holiday lights, hand out festive hats (for people and pets) and get or make traditional holiday decor with a pet spin (i.e., a mini tree with toys as ornaments).
- Spring: Add some fresh garden touches, get or make some flower crowns, and set the table with tea party energy.
- Summer: Fill up some baby pools (if you don’t have a backyard, you can fill one with pet toys instead of water), channel the beach, and brighten the space up with some sunny colors.
Your pet is the ruler, everyone else is high court at best. Have fun with the castle aesthetic—hang up some banners and pennants, make a throne (or spruce up an already favorite spot) for your pet, get some gaudy drink goblets and put on a medieval playlist.
This theme can be helpful and fun when it comes to planning activities, too. You can decorate with merch from an actual favorite team or create your own merch (t-shirts, bandanas, etc.) based on your pet.
Pennant hangings and celebratory signs can never lead you wrong. Balloons can be fun…as long as you don’t have animals who’d be sensitive to popping noises, who’d see a balloon and think “EAT” or who’d see a balloon and think “FLOATING INTRUDER.”
Your decorations can simply be related to the type of pet you have. They don’t have to be wildly creative, and chances are you already own a few items that feature your pet’s species. Bring them all into one room and you’ve got a theme.
Bring Out the Baby Pictures
Print out pictures of your pet and just tape them wherever you and your guests will be. You can also request that your guests bring any photos they might have of your pet, so you can reminisce AND get new photos.
Your pet gives you the gift of companionship every day, so you better get ’em something good.
Let guests know what your pet’s preferences are, and also let them know what kind of toys would drive you nuts. (Do NOT tell the prank-y friends the latter info. In fact, don’t tell them anything.)
You can encourage guests to give long-lasting consumables (bones for dogs, catnip toys for cats, hay mobiles for bunnies, etc.) or one-and-done treats. Just make sure they have the dietary info they need and set expectations straight about how much sugar you’re okay letting your pet consume in one day.
Guests can pitch in to help you purchase a park pass or a pet stroller, or even just gift a plan to do something fun with your pet (and you, if you want to third-wheel).
Straight-up necessary supplies
We all know vet bills are bananas, and the regular costs of food, grooming and everything else all add up. If it’d be the most helpful thing, ask your guests to help with the boring necessities. As long as your pet is still getting some kind of treat and some kind of attention, they’re going to have a good time.
When all’s said and done, you and your pet will have celebrated their amazingness and tired yourselves out. When the party’s over, share photos by sending to loved ones and/or on social and keep guests updated about how their contributions made your pet happy. But most importantly, take a moment to just sit and appreciate your bond. There’s nothing else like it.
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