Written by Tim Falk
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 01/14/2022, edited: 08/18/2022
Tuesday, February 1 is Chinese New Year. And as you’re probably well aware, the Chinese zodiac features 12 animal signs that represent each year — the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
The animals cycle through in that order every 12 years, and each of those animals has its own unique personality traits. Your birth year is used to work out your Chinese zodiac sign, and people born in the animal’s year are said to have the same traits as their zodiac creature.
2022 is the year of the tiger, so why not spend this much-anticipated annual celebration with another feline: your cat? As you prepare to welcome the new year, here’s how you can celebrate the year of the tiger with your cat.
What does it mean if you’re born in the year of the tiger? Well, people born in 2022 (or 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, etc., for that matter) are said to have a number of unique characteristics. You might be surprised to find that many of those traits are also commonly found in your average house cat.
People born in the year of the tiger are said to be:
Natural leaders. Let’s face it, your cat has no doubt that they’re fully in charge of your household. You are merely their servant.
Courageous. What kitty doesn’t love the odd daring adventure or brush with danger? Tigers are brave, courageous, and always ready for action.
Confident. From their graceful movements to their disdain for anything that fails to interest them, cats practically ooze confidence. However, this confidence in people born in the year of the tiger can sometimes result in a big ego or even arrogance.
Competitive. Cats never back down from a challenge, and those born in the year of the tiger are said to be risk-takers. Speaking of which, have you ever watched your cat size up and then attempt a between-furniture leap they have no hope of making?
Charming and charismatic. Your fantastic feline, just like anyone whose zodiac sign is the tiger, is very easy to love. Despite, or maybe because of, their unique quirks, you can’t help but adore your fur-baby.
Ready to ring in the Lunar New Year with your kitty? Here’s how to celebrate.
Start with a clean-up
OK, so cleaning probably isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but cleaning your home in preparation for the new year is an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations. The theme of any new year is a fresh start, a new beginning, so it’s time to clear away the clutter and usher in a year of prosperity.
With this in mind, make sure to vacuum away all that pet hair around your home and get the place looking spick and span before celebrations begin.
Get together with family
Family is hugely important in Chinese culture, and the arrival of the new year means it’s time to get together with loved ones. In fact, the sheer number of people traveling to visit their families at this time of year has earned Chinese New Year the nickname of “the world’s largest human migration”.
Of course, your cat is well and truly an integral part of your family, so be sure to include them in your family reunion. Whether they spend their time lapping up the attention from your relatives or prefer to just lay back and snooze while the celebrations unfold, they’ll love the chance to spend quality time with you.
Make some cat treats
The next Chinese New Year tradition you can share with your cat is good food. Each year, families sit down to a delicious meal, with many of the festive treats on offer boasting special significance.
Make sure to include your fur-baby in the fun by preparing some tasty treats for your cats to enjoy. Fish is a common dish on the Chinese New Year menu, so why not prepare a homemade fish feast for your furry friend? You’ll find plenty more inspiration in our guide to our 10 favorite cat treat recipes for 2022.
Play a puzzle game
Eating a delicious, festive meal isn’t the only thing families do when they get together to celebrate Chinese New Year. Games like mahjong and Dou Dizhu often form part of the fun, offering the perfect opportunity for everyone to enjoy a little friendly competition.
Include your pet in the fun by giving them a puzzle game to play. From puzzle boards and boxes to food mazes, there are plenty of options to choose from. They’re also a great way to keep boredom at bay and provide some welcome mental stimulation for your fur-baby.
Hit the shops
Chinese consumers spend a staggering amount of money on shopping and eating out during Lunar New Year celebrations. From food and clothes to orchids and decorations, shopping is a big part of preparing to welcome the new year.
So when you’re filling your cart in the lead-up to February 1, don’t forget about your cat. Perhaps they need a new sweater, a new toy, a new scratching post, climbing tree, or maybe even all of the above.
For younger generations, one of the highlights of Chinese New Year celebrations is the tradition of sharing wealth. Each year, older members of the family give red envelopes containing gifts of money (known as “lucky money”) to children.
In keeping with this show of generosity, you might like to make a donation to a local animal shelter or rescue group in your cat’s honor. It’s a gesture of goodwill that will give you the warm and fuzzies while helping animals in need at the same time.
For many of us, the first thing that springs to mind when we think of Chinese New Year is a spectacular parade. These vibrant celebrations feature iconic lion and dragon dances, along with plenty of noise, color, and excitement.
But there’s one other popular feature of celebrations that can be quite alarming to pets: firecrackers. They’re loud, bright, and can be a source of fear and anxiety for cats and dogs, so it’s best to keep your cat well away from fireworks displays or celebrations where you know firecrackers will be lit. Instead, give them a safe and quiet place they can retreat to if they’re ever overwhelmed or frightened by boisterous celebrations.
If you’re a cat lover, the first thing you notice when listing the animals of the Chinese zodiac is that the cat doesn’t feature. Sure, the tiger is there, but if a dog is included, then why not a cat too? What gives?
The story goes that when the Jade Emperor announced he was creating a calendar, all the animals in the kingdom were invited to participate in a race across a river. The first 12 to arrive would feature in the zodiac calendar, in the order in which they arrived.
There are a few different versions of exactly what transpired, but the long and the short of it is that the cat was tricked by his good friend the rat. In one version, the cat oversleeps on the morning of the race and the rat doesn’t wake him up, while in another the 2 animal friends hitch a ride across the river on the back of an ox until the rat shoves the cat overboard to ensure that he arrives first.
In the end, the unfortunate cat was the 13th to arrive and missed out on his place in the Chinese zodiac. And that’s why, even in modern times, cats hate rats and chase them every chance they get.
How are you celebrating Chinese New Year with your tiny tiger? Share your ideas in the comments below, or show us your snaps on Instagram @wag!
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