Leaf through the family photo album, and odds are, you’ll find some snapshots of children and their pets. Pets – especially dogs and cats – are treasured members of the family. They provide unconditional love, affection, and companionship. If your group members are unabashed cat or dog lovers, they’ll want to spend some time reminiscing about the four-legged members of their families. This month’s activities will encourage participants to share memories of beloved cats and their clever and fun-loving ways. Take a look below.
- PET PHOTOS: Display family photos of pet kittens and cats. Ask: Did you grow up with a family pet? What kind? How did you select the right pet for your family? Are you a dog or cat person? If your family owned a cat, what did you learn from the experience? Share a funny story about a special cat in your family.
- VISITING CATS: Invite family members or staff to bring in their pet cats for a visit (stroke the cats’ fur, watch cats play with toys, perform special trick). Share tips on how to care for a cat. Name favorite sleeping spots for cats. List cat food brands (ex: Puss ’n Boots, Meow Mix, 9 Lives, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Whiskas). Sing an old cat food jingle, like the Meow Mix song. Guess the number of cat treats in a plastic jar.
- CAT DESCRIPTIONS: List words that describe cats (cuddly, cute, frisky, independent, quirky, curious). Name the sounds that cats make (meow, purr, hiss). Give other names for cats (mouser, tabby, tom, kitten, feline). Talk about specific cat breeds, such as Siamese, Persian, and Maltese. Compose a free verse poem about cats, using some of the words.
- MUSIC: Listen to “cat” songs: “I Bought Me a Cat,” “The Cat in the Window,” “What’s New, Pussycat?” “The Siamese Cat Song,” “The Cat Came Back,” and songs from Cats, the musical.
- TOYS: Make a simple cat toy, like a feather cat toy or a catnip rat toy. Give the toy to a favorite cat owner.
- MOVIE: Watch the 1965 Disney family comedy/mystery That Darn Cat, starring Haley Mills and Dean Jones – about a Siamese cat named D.C.
- FAMOUS CATS: Compile a list of famous cats in movies, literature, and TV. Examples: Garfield, Heathcliff, Sylvester, Cat in the Hat, Felix the Cat, Hobbes, Morris the Cat, Cheshire Cat, Milo. Ask your group to tell what each one is associated with – for example, Garfield is a comic strip character.
- NAMES: Read the poem “The Naming of Cats” by T. S. Eliot and discover how many names a cat should have. (Answer: Three) Share unusual/funny/endearing names for kittens and cats. Check out the names of cats that have lived in the White House in Washington, including Bill Clinton’s cat named Socks.
- SUPERSTITIONS: Explore superstitions, myths, and folklore surrounding cats. (Example: When a black cat crosses your path, it’s bad luck.)
- IDIOMS: Talk about the meaning of these old sayings: It’s raining cats and dogs, Cat got your tongue? Curiosity killed the cat, A cat has nine lives, Play a cat and mouse game, Take a cat nap, Let the cat out of the bag, There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
- GAMES: Play Cat’s Cradle, a string game enjoyed by generations of youngsters. (Check an online site for instructions.) Or learn the history of cat’s-eye marbles, which became popular in America in the 1950s.
- POETRY: Read and discuss some classic cat poetry: “The Cat and the Moon” by William Butler Yeats, “See the Kitten on the Wall” by William Wordsworth, “A Kitten” or “Cats Sleep Anywhere” by Eleanor Farjeon, “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear, or a collection of poems in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.
- SHORT STORIES: Read aloud heartwarming cat tales, such as James Herriot’s Cat Stories or excerpts from Cleveland Amory’s three books about his cat, Polar Bear (or listen to the audio version). Work a jigsaw puzzle featuring the artwork of Charles Wysocki and his cat/dog prints.
- CAT BEHAVIOR: Watch some episodes of the popular Cats 101 TV show on Animal Planet. Learn fascinating facts about felines. Serve a paw print cake.
- GIFTS: View samples of gifts for cat lovers: paw print mugs, kitten calendar, “Cat Lover” t-shirt, cat figurines, calico cat pillow, Garfield stuffed animal, cat picture frame, book of funny cat sayings. Suggest other gifts for those who love kittens and cats.
- Cats have thirty-two muscles in each ear, which allows for directional hearing. The ears can also move independently of each other. When a cat feels angry or threatened, it flattens its ears. The angle of a cat’s ears can be a helpful cue as to its mood. When you are in a good or bad mood, what are some ways that people can tell?
CATS TRIVIA QUIZ
- What is a group of kittens called? Kindle or litter
- What is a tabby? A cat with a striped pattern on its coat
- According to the old saying, how many lives does a cat have? Nine
- What is a domestic adult male cat called? Tom
- Which plant of the mint family has a strong smell that attracts cats? Catnip
- What does the phrase “cat’s meow” describe? Something first rate
- What is the name of the cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland? Cheshire Cat
- What is the name for a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild? Feral
- Who wrote the popular children’s book The Cat in the Hat? Dr. Seuss
- What sound does a cat make when it is angry? Hiss
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
“Kittens and Cats” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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