Dear Readers: It looks like Fluffy and Fido are leaving their mark, but not on your carpet! The pet industry is rapidly growing, and so are supplies, foods and services that cater to these four-legged friends. If you are looking for something special to give a friend during the holidays, think about his or her pet. Here are a few pet gift ideas from Heloise Central:

Decorate a plastic or ceramic bowl by personalizing it with the pet's name.

Make a blanket and write the name of the pet on it with permanent marker.

Decorate a plain leash and collar by using craft paints.

Get some pet-grooming supplies and put them in a personalized stocking.

Purchase a gift card from a pet store; some stores let pets in so they can choose their own toys, treats, etc.

Take a paw print of your friend's pet with washable ink and make copies on pretty paper for stationery.

Offer a coupon for free pet-sitting for when your friend goes out of town.

All these ideas can really make the holidays uniquely special for your friend and for his or her four-legged family member. — Heloise

Dear Readers: Hortense Cook of Winslow, Maine, sent in a sweet photo of her great-granddaughter's 7-week-old kitten, Precious, drinking from a pet baby bottle. When Amanda Duquette first got Precious, the kitten wouldn't eat but took to the bottle. She now runs from the fridge to the microwave when it's time to eat. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I finally found a solution to prevent our dog from getting on the love seat and chewing on the cover. I put a plastic tablecloth protector on the love seat and then put the love seat's cover over it. He won't go near it because he is afraid of plastic bags (this makes a "crackling" sound if he steps on it — Heloise). Worked for me, and I thought it might work for someone else who has this problem. — Judy Scofield, Cibolo, Texas

And here's a hint from Carolyn of Ohio on keeping kitties off the furniture. She says: "I have three indoor cats, and cat hair is maddening. For years, I used sheets to cover the sofa and chairs in the living room to keep the cats off the upholstered furniture.

"I knew that cats do not like aluminum foil. So, I bought some foil oven liners and placed one on each seat cushion and put a piece of aluminum foil on the chair backs that were their favorites. Instant success! Not one cat has been on the furniture since.

"When guests drop in, I can whisk the foil away in a flash. No cat hair to deal with. It has made my life less stressful." — Heloise


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