The holidays are a time for friends, family, food, and of course, fun. But amid all the shopping, cooking, and travel, the family cat (or cats) can get lost in the shuffle. So here are some simple fun ways to include your feline friends in the festivities. And look: we’re not going to dress up our cats here. As tempting as it might be, let’s all just refrain because BOY do cats HATE being dressed up. Seriously. I have scars on my arms to offer as proof. So what can you do instead?

Get a Gift for Your Cat

There’s really no rule about who can (and cannot) receive a holiday gift, so be sure not to forget your cat. We have stockings for all the pets (three cats and one dog), so we hide the gifts there. There’s a wide range of great stocking stuffers for the modern feline—and they run the gamut from holiday-themed catnip-filled toys to remote-controlled robotic mice (seriously, go for the catnip toys; so much fun watching them get catnip drunk after opening the presents!) . You can even gift-wrap your cat’s presents and open them with the whole family, though the wrapping paper might prove as entertaining as the toys.

Give Your Cat a Treat

While your cats may want to sample the Christmas goose, you probably don’t want them gnawing at the bird or stealing scraps from your plate. So why not give them a cat-safe tasty treat of their own? Holiday-themed cat treats abound, both online and in stores, and a tasty treat is a great way to ensure not only that your cats are happy, but that they’re not looking to swipe your dinner. If you do decide that you want to give your kitties holiday leftover, make sure to know what food are safe and what you should avoid.

Provide a Safe Retreat

If you’re hosting any family gatherings this holiday, your cats may decide they prefer solitude to being underfoot in all the hustle and bustle. Consider giving your cat a cozy bed or enclosed shelter to retreat to when the activity becomes overwhelming. Most cats are curious enough to want to know what’s happening but shy enough that they don’t relish being around a dozen noisy strangers. We have a huge crowd each year for Christmas dinner, and the cats vanish. We store coats in the master bedroom, and make my office the safe space for the kitties during the crush of family and little kids.

Take Your Cat With You

Most cats tend to be homebodies, easily disgruntled by any dramatic changes in scene or routine (my current cats fall into this category). But for those more gregarious felines, who simply MUST be a part of everything, consider bringing them along. Deciding whether your cat is fit to travel depends on your assessment of their temperament, but there are cats that do love to get away from home now and then. If you do travel with your cat, be sure to bring the things they’ll need, such as food and water bowls, a familiar cozy bed or blanket, a litter pan, and some toys. My cat Spike loved going for car rides as long as he could see out the window; we did some careful arranging of his crate so the crate ‘window’ is right next to a window. I don’t know why he loved it, but he did. We also had a cat who loved walking on a leash, so we’d take him to the park. Trouble arrived when he tried to climb trees, though...

Save a Box (or Two)

Cats love boxes—exploring them, playing in them, sleeping in them. If you don’t mind a little added holiday clutter, don’t trash all the boxes on Christmas morning. Leave one or two aside, maybe with a soft towel or old sweatshirt inside. Your cats will appreciate the instant playhouse / hideout. Seriously, this is the single easiest way to celebrate the holidays with your cats: let ‘em have the boxes!   We hope these ideas help you and your purring pals have a wonderful holiday season!

Written by Cecily Kellogg