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National Cat Day: I threw my cat a birthday party. Here's how you can, too.

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You, too, can throw your cat a birthday party. (Clockwise from right) The birthday girl Penny, the party in full effect, and a cake made in the shape of Penny's face.
Leo Duran
You, too, can throw your cat a birthday party. (Clockwise from right) The birthday girl Penny, the party in full effect, and a cake made in the shape of Penny's face.

Pet parties are actually a big thing, so KPCC's Leo Duran went all out to celebrate his own cat, including a cat-themed playlist and "kitty litter" cake.

My cat Penny turns 11 this month. I know because when I first got her, the vet estimated her age and I thought, "Oh good, that makes her a Libra."

So I already admit I'm weird.

But her mortality has been weighing on me. Indoor cats only live for a few decades, and she's well past the halfway mark. That's why I pulled the trigger on throwing her a birthday party.

The idea came from a friend who went to one years ago. My reaction was probably like yours as you clicked the link: that's weird, but it's got to be so hilarious that I'm curious.

I've also been to a house party where they had a projector showing kittens on a playset. As soon as people entered the room, all conversation stopped and they stood there staring. For a long time.

So I kind of knew people would (cat)nip at the chance to go to one.

(Cat birthday party guests who got into the spirit. (l-r) Jason Benavidez, Courtney Cox, and Jacob Margolis)

Pet parties are a thing

Actually, a big thing.

While there aren't any statistics on cat parties, The Dog Bakery in Los Angeles makes pet treats and found that the requests they got for dog birthday cakes were overwhelming.

"The demand has really increased so much that we can't keep up with current demand," says owner Rocky Kanana, "so we've got a 48 hour wait notice on the cakes."

He says these cakes are the core of its business, now.

The owner of my local pet store also told me she threw her cat a quinceañera for its 15th birthday.

But when it comes to cat parties, there weren't a lot of tips I found online or when I trawled through social media.

So I made up my own.

Some creative ideas I can share

Many of my friends pushed me to go overboard with the planning. One tried to get me to buy a huge piñata of a cat (but I have a small apartment). Others tried to get me to invite celebrities (I don't know any). 

Here is a list of things I did do:

  • offered a "gift basket" of allergy drugs and eye drops for my more sneeze-prone guests.
  • crafted a color theme of black and white (Penny's a tuxedo cat), including balloons, streamers, and even yarn balls I dangled from the living room ceiling.
  • mixed two signature cocktails on tap: the Tuxedo and the Black Cat
  • made a kitty litter cake (eww!) plus one in the shape of her face. It took a lot of fondant.
  • create a 3 hour playlist of cat videos on YouTube to play on my projector during the party.
  • curate a 6 hour mix of cat-themed and Penny-themed songs.

Also, know your pet. 

I admit this party was kind of for me more than her. Penny was probably going to hide under the bed most of the time, so I made sure she had a "safe space."

But I also knew that she's friendly and doesn't bite. I told people ahead of time that if she does come out, don't rush at her and be gentle.

In addition, give your guests an idea of what to bring. I hate to admit it now, but my cat doesn't react to catnip. About a third of cats don't, so I'm not too sure what to do with all the gifts people brought. It's my fault for forgetting to mention to people. Whoops.

The after-purrty

In the end, it was worth it. I also noticed she was far more affectionate than usual for a few days afterwards.

I genuinely don't think cats have the awareness to know when things are about them, unlike dogs. However it made me really happy to organize it, and to know friends wanted to join in the fun.

"It's a way to relate to your pet and to say, 'You're important to me, here's a day for you,'" says Rocky Kanaka. "But like we always say at The Dog Bakery, better spoiled than neglected."

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