Woman celebrating her dog's Gotcha Day with her furry friend at home.

Ways to celebrate your cat or dog’s Gotcha Day!

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Woman celebrating her dog's Gotcha Day with her furry friend at home.

Consider these Gotcha Day ideas to help commemorate your pet’s adoption day anniversary.

There may be nothing more celebratory than the day you first met your four-legged BFF. Whether you adopted your furry friend from a shelter or “failed” at being a foster parent, you and your pet were meant to be! Some might even call it love at first sniff.

When you adopt a cat or dog, their life up until they stole your heart is usually a complete mystery. You may not know their birthday or even their age, but one thing’s for sure — the most important day of their life is the day they met you.

If you can’t throw a big birthday bash for your pet because you’re not sure what day they were born, consider celebrating your cat or dog’s “Gotcha Day” as an alternative!

What’s a “Gotcha Day?”

Since an adopted dog or cat’s birthday is usually unknown, your pet’s “Gotcha Day” is the day you adopted and brought home your pet for the first time. That way, if you don’t know your cat or dog’s birthday, you can celebrate their Gotcha Day instead.

If you ask us, every day might be an excuse to spoil your furry friend, but your pet’s Gotcha Day is the purr-fect reason to go above and beyond. After all, it’s the day your life together began!

Is Gotcha Day only for adopted dogs and cats?

Don’t worry, even if you know the exact day and time your pet was born, you can still celebrate their Gotcha Day. The excitement of bringing home a pet for the first time is a universal experience that every pet parent can celebrate.

Do pets think you're their parent?

Just because you’re not related by blood, doesn’t mean your pet can’t form an incredibly deep and meaningful connection with you as their pet parent. They may not be able to call you “mom” or “dad,” but your pet still communicates how they feel about you in their own special way.

Signs your dog or cat thinks of you as their parent

Just like human children, pets often look to their human caretakers for guidance, protection and reassurance. Here’s how to tell if your pet thinks of you as their mom or dad:

  • They follow you around. Does your pet follow you to the bathroom or constantly check in on you throughout the day? Perhaps you’ve caught them spying or tailing you from room to room. If so, this is a strong sign of how they feel about you. Not only does your presence provide comfort, but your pet may view you as part of their pack.
  • They bring you gifts. When you come home, does your dog bring you their favorite toy? Or if you’re a cat parent, has your kitty ever brought you something unpleasant like a small dead animal or bug? If so, think of gift-giving as your pet’s love language. It’s a sign that you’re someone very important in their life, and bringing you gifts is how they show their love.
  • They sleep or snuggle with you. Pets are at their most vulnerable while sleeping, so where they choose to sleep is a very important decision. They sleep in places where they feel safe, so if your pet likes to sleep with or near you, it means they feel secure around you.
  • They wag or curve their tail when they see you. For dogs, a wagging tail when you come home is a strong signal that they’re happy to see you. For cats, a curved tail is a friendly greeting and an invitation to show them some affection. They may also wrap their tail around your hands or legs, which is just another sign of how much they love you.
  • They make eye contact with you. Direct eye contact is a sign that your pet trusts you and is comfortable with you. By making eye contact with you, they’re simply showing you that they love you!
  • They lick you. Both dogs and cats typically give kisses to their favorite people. Licking is a way of grooming and showing affection, and you can return the favor with some head or belly scratches.

10 ways to celebrate your pet’s Gotcha Day

Now that you know the signs that your pet sees you as their parent, why not show your pet some love in return? Nobody knows your pet better than you, but we’re confident these ideas will help your BFF feel extra special on their Gotcha Day.

1. Throw a Gotcha Day paw-ty

Perhaps the most obvious, but when it comes to celebrating your pet’s Gotcha Day, the more the merrier! Throw a party à la Animal House-style and invite all your four-legged and two-legged friends to come over and paw-ty.

If your pet is more of a hermit than a party animal, you could meet your friends at the dog park or a pet-friendly bar instead. You could also host a low-key “yappy” hour at your place with a few of your closest friends.

2. Go on a “sniffari”

We have 6 million scent receptors in our noses, but dogs can have up to 300 million. As you might imagine, a dog’s nose is far more powerful than ours — their sense of smell is 50 times stronger.

You can give your dog a real thrill by simply taking them for a walk, but on their Gotcha Day, give your canine the freedom to stop and sniff every scent they please. A single sniff is like watching an episode of their favorite TV show, so let your dog binge!

For our feline friends who aren’t accustomed to walking on a leash, try catnip instead. Crushing the herb will help release more of the aroma, and you can either give it to your cat directly or sprinkle some over a toy. You can even “marinate” a plush toy in the same way you might marinate some chicken.

3. Schedule a playdate

You can’t go wrong with a little extra socialization and physical activity, so consider inviting your pet’s furry BFF over for a Gotcha Day playdate. As long as both pets like to share, you could even spoil your pet with some new toys for the occasion. They’ll be the envy of their entire pack.

4. Share your love on social media

Nothing says “Happy Gotcha Day!” like a photo montage on social media. It’s the modern-day way to shout your love from the rooftops. Profess your cat or puppy love to the world and share some of your favorite photos together. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire others to rescue a pet of their own, too!

5. Spend some quality time together

Just like people, every pet receives and gives love in different ways. And for many pets, there’s nothing better than some quality time with their favorite human. Your time and attention are truly all your pet needs on their Gotcha Day! That might look like a long snuggle session on the couch, an extra game of fetch in the backyard, a leisurely walk around the neighborhood — the possibilities are endless.

6. Spoil your pet with a long, healthy life

Above all, your pet’s Gotcha Day is a celebration of the special bond you two share. Every pet parent strives for a long and happy life with their pet, but it only takes one unexpected injury or illness to put that into jeopardy — along with your finances. Even if your pet is young and healthy, you just can’t predict what might happen to your pet or how much it might cost.

Pet health insurance is one way to help give your pet a longer and happier life because it’s no “treat” having to choose between balancing your budget and giving your pet the care they need.

Learn more about pet insurance for dogs and cats and how it can help today.

7. Treat your pet to their favorite treat

Whether it’s cheese or peanut butter, use your pet’s favorite yummy treat to tickle their palate! You’ll have your pet literally (and figuratively) eating out of the palm of your hand.

8. Dress your pet to impress

No matter the season, a new outfit may help your pet feel stylish and confident on their Gotcha Day. During the colder months, consider a cozy sweater and a pair of booties to help keep them warm all winter long. Likewise, buy a cute bandana and a new collar when the weather’s warm — your pet will be the coolest cat on the block!

9. Take a field trip to the pet store

A shopping spree at your local pet store can be a fun way to celebrate your pet’s special day. Walk through the different aisles and let them pick out a new toy or treat. They’ll be spoiled for choice, but remember to keep them on-leash!

By letting your pet pick their Gotcha Day present, you can rest assured that it won’t end up at the bottom of the toy pile.

10. Donate or volunteer at a local animal shelter

Your pet’s Gotcha Day is the perfect time to give back to a local animal shelter. Shelters are always in need of extra help and appreciate a lending hand. By donating or volunteering your time, you can do something positive in honor of your pet. Bonus points if you can give back to the same shelter where you adopted your beloved companion from!

No matter how you choose to celebrate your pet’s Gotcha Day, we wish you two a very long and happy life together.

Pet insurance products are underwritten in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company and ZPIC Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98108. Administered by Trupanion Managers USA, Inc. (CA license No. 0G22803, NPN 9588590). Terms and conditions apply, see full policy on Trupanion's website for details.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, its subsidiaries and affiliates, neither offer nor are financially responsible for pet insurance products. State Farm is a separate entity and is not affiliated with Trupanion or American Pet Insurance.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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