Regardless of your faith or how and when you celebrate, the holidays are a great reminder to give back, be grateful, and do some good. I’m going to assume (because you are reading this post) that you love dogs and cats and want to help animals live healthy, happy lives. But maybe you are short on time, money, or energy and aren’t sure how you can make a difference. And let’s face it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the face of pet overpopulation, homelessness, indifference and cruelty.
But Ruby and I are here to remind you that you can make a difference – and small changes lead to big changes! Kindness matters!
Last spring I shared ways to celebrate spring by helping animals. This is the winter version and in addition to helping animals in shelters, this list also includes ways to help feral cats and wildlife in winter as well as owned pets and humans in need in your community.
15 Ways To Celebrate The Holidays By Helping Animals
Helping Animals In Shelters
Holiday Foster. Bring a terminally ill or senior shelter pet home for the holidays. Create a fairytale ending and make their final days their best days.
Holiday Fleece Blankets. Gather some kids together and host a no-sew fleece blanket making party for your local shelter or rescue organization. These blankets are super easy even for DIY-challenged folks like me and will provide love and comfort to homeless dogs and cats in shelters.
Holiday Photos. Take holiday photos of adoptable animals in shelters and rescues. Share them widely on social media. Sharing your rescued pet’s story is also a great way to inspire others to adopt.
Holiday Gratitude. Shelter workers face daily heartbreak often for low wages and long hours. They deserve praise and gratitude so why not thank them with gift cards, cookies, and other holiday treats. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Eve is a nice day for a visit to say thank you. We spent part of Christmas Eve last year at Chicago Animal Care & Control and it was pretty incredible.
Helping People and Animals In Need
Holiday Delivery. Deliver food, collars, leads, coats, and blankets to homeless pet owners in your community. Many homeless shelters do not allow pets so these folks truly have very few options for themselves or their animals.
Holiday Check-Ins. Reach out to seniors and other homebound pet guardians in your neighborhood. Walk dogs, clean cat boxes, buy pet food, shovel walks, take pets to the vet/groomer or set up automatic delivery from an online pet supply source.
Holiday Food Pantry. Set up a pet food pantry in your school, workplace, or place of worship. You can also deliver pet food to (or possibly partner with) your local human food pantry.
Helping Wildlife in Winter
Holiday DIY Shelters. Build shelters for feral and community cats to help them survive the winter. Cats can survive the cold as long as they stay dry and have access to food and water. You can find more information on caring for feral cats in winter (including DIY shelter ideas) here.
Holiday Birds. Keep feeding the birds in winter. You can buy feeders or make them. Obviously if you are helping feral cats AND birds this winter, you will want to keep their feeding areas separate (hang bird feeders up high where cats can’t reach them).
Holiday Driving. With shorter days and darker nights, always drive cautiously with wildlife and stray animals in mind. Keep phone numbers for local wildlife rehabbers in your glove compartment and leashes, collars and blankets in your trunk for stray dogs and cats. Always check your car engine to make sure it is free of cats or other animals who may have crawled inside to keep warm.
Holiday Habitat. Nooks and crannies in your yard provide warmth and shelter for wildlife. You can skip the bags and rake your leaves and twigs in piles or build a rock pile in the corner of your yard for winter shelter for chipmunks, mice, frogs, snakes, and insects.
General Suggestions for Living A More Compassionate Life
Holiday Spirit. Forgo holiday gifts and ask friends and family to make a donation to your favorite animal shelter or wildlife protection organization in your name. Donate your time, money, and skills to help animals in your community.
Holiday Shopping. Make humane shopping choices. Do not buy products or support companies who exploit animals for fur, etc. Only support brands and businesses that are cruelty-free, earth friendly and supportive of animal welfare.
Holiday Veggies. Eat more plant-based foods and reduce your consumption of meat and dairy. Farm animals are among the most mistreated animals on the planet and factory farms are leading contributors to climate change. Why not give meatless Monday or wild-caught fish Friday a try.
Holiday Resolutions. Choose compassion as one of your 2019 resolutions. Living a compassionate life means different things to different people, figure out what it means for you. Most importantly, be the person your dog (or cat) thinks you are. No matter how the rest of the world sees you in your their eyes you are the coolest, kindest person ever – let’s all try to be that person in 2019!
Please share your thoughts on kindness and the ways you help animals in the comments. For more tips on living a compassionate life and lots of Ruby cuteness, please subscribe to our email list. You can also check out last year’s holiday post about helping animals here.