If you’re anything like us, you don’t need a special excuse to spoil your fur baby, but your pet’s Gotcha Day is a perfect opportunity to go all out to celebrate your unique bond! 

What is a Pet Gotcha Day? 

A Gotcha Day, or Adoption Day, for pets is the anniversary of the day you officially adopted your furry companion. If you rescued your pet, you might not know their actual birthday (or even their true age!),so many pet parents choose to celebrate their rescue dog or cat’s birthday on the date you first brought them home.

The concept began with families of adopted children celebrating the date they became a new family together and has since become popular within the pet parent community. Like birthdays, gotcha day celebrations are a wonderful chance to show your pet just how much you appreciate them and to enjoy small (or big) moments together on this special day.

Is Gotcha Day Just For Rescued Pets?

Whatever way you found your pet, the day they officially came into your home will always be a day to remember. Even if you know your pet’s birthday and their origins, you can still celebrate their gotcha day as this is the day your life together truly started.

How to Celebrate a Pet Gotcha Day

Many factors may determine how you choose to celebrate with your pet on their Gotcha Day. For example, if you are honoring the first year together, you may decide to do a larger Gotcha Day celebration. Whereas, if your pet is older or has health problems, spending some small moments together may be all you both need. 

Think about what makes your pet the happiest and try to incorporate as many of those things into your day together. Do they love activity or quiet time? Going swimming or chilling at a pet-friendly restaurant? Do they have favorite furry friends or a certain food they jump at the chance to gobble up? 

Check out some of our favorite ideas and pick up some inspiration on ways to celebrate your pet’s Gotcha Day this year!

Find or Bake a pet-friendly cake

The cake is almost synonymous with celebrations, so why not let your pet enjoy our human pastime as well! There are plenty of recipes online, and many can be altered to fit your pet’s dietary needs (e.g. grain-free, low glycemic index). 

For some very easy doggie cupcakes, combine eggs, peanut butter, applesauce, oats, and shredded carrots. Top with a swirl of whipped cream for an extra special treat!

For pet parents less familiar with the kitchen, search for local pet stores or pet bakeries that carry cakes specially made for pets like these pies available at Petsmart. Just make sure that if you are using a box mix or premade cake/treat that it does not contain any of your pet’s allergens and that you stay mindful of nutrition even around their Gotcha Day!

Let them pick out a new toy

Bring your pup (or cat if they enjoy outings) to your local pet store and see which toys catch their attention. Give some a squeak or rattle, let your pet sniff it, and you’ll quickly see which toys are a new favorite for your furry friend.

Go to their favorite park or trail

Is there a hiking trail nearby that your pup gets extra excited riding up to? A dog park that they never want to leave? Or a lake they love to swim in? If weather permits, spend some quality time being active outdoors at one of your pet’s favorite places.

Give them a luxury spa day

Some pets love a good bath or even just a spritz and brush. Either set up an appointment with your favorite groomer for a full coat trim or create your own spa at home with some quality bathing products.

Use an invigorating grooming kit, like the FurblissTM Starter Kit, for a luxury bathing experience - complete with a massaging brush to help relax your pet and a nourishing conditioner to leave them feeling refreshed!

Buy them some new clothes

If your pet’s Gotcha Day is during the winter season, they may benefit from a new warm sweater or snow booties. Alternatively, if the weather is warmer, you could get your pet a fun bandana, a bright collar/harness, or even a new leash to celebrate their special day.

Throw a Gotcha Paw-ty!

Pick up some decorations and invite some friends for a celebration. The party can be made even more exciting if your friends bring their own pets who can all play together and share treats and games with your companion.

Ensure any other pets coming to the party are well-socialized so that all furry friends have a positive experience. Decorations and human food served at the party should be kept out of paws-reach for the safety of pets around.

Also, make sure that you are continuously gauging your pet’s energy levels and attitude throughout the party. Some pets are more introverted or easily overwhelmed by large groups; if your pet shows signs of anxiety, stress, or fatigue, provide them a quiet space to retreat to.

Donate to a shelter or rescue organization in their name

If you found your companion at a local shelter, or you know of a rescue organization within your community, your pet’s Gotcha Day is a perfect time to give back and thank them for the amazing work they do helping similar pets and families like yours.

Get a personalized gift for them (and/or you!)

Gotcha Day is just as special for you as it is for your pet. Treat yourself to another year of being a wonderful pet parent with a cute frame for your favorite photo of your companion, or have their face printed onto a pillow, blanket, or coffee mug! 

There are many pet supplies that can be personalized with your pet’s name so you can treat them as well - like food and water bowls, beds, collars, and even toys!

Plan a playdate

If your pet has a favorite doggie or kitty friend, invite them over to have some playtime or arrange to meet up at the local park.

Spend extra time together

Carve out a little extra time in your day to have some quality time with your pet. Do something special and enjoyable for both of you. This may be playing fetch, tug-a-rope, catch the light, or some other type of game. Or it may simply be snuggling up for some extra belly scratches or a good brush of their coat.

Make a special dinner

Homemade pet food can be easy to make and typically doesn’t require many ingredients. Something as simple as ground turkey, rice, peas, carrots, and water can make a delicious stew that your dog can enjoy on their Gotcha Dog Day.

For cats, some canned fish with chicken broth, rice, and sweet potatoes is a great option for a special Gotcha Day dinner.

Share their story

If you met your companion at an animal shelter, their Gotcha Day is a great opportunity to inspire others to help other pets in need. Pet parenting isn’t for everyone, but those considering getting a cat or dog may be swayed to look at local rescues after hearing your pet’s story.

Write about what you suspect their life was like before they were rescued, the process of adoption, and the things you have learned through the experience. Be honest; there are elements of rescuing a pet that can be tough at times, and it’s important that others are aware and prepared. There are also the wonderful elements in your own life that are changed through pet parenting; speak to these. 

Post on your social media and/or send to the shelter where you found your pet. They often share happy stories - especially if you have fun pictures from your Gotcha Day celebrations alongside it!