If there’s one time of the year you can get away with stuffing your face without guilt, it’s Thanksgiving. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato pie… and on it goes. But while you’re eating your way into a food coma, spare a thought for your poor kitty. If you’ve simply cracked open their usual can of food before getting stuck into your own smorgasbord of treats, they’re probably feeling a tiny bit left out right now, especially with so many delicious smells wafting through the house. But while it’s tempting to throw them the odd treat from your own plate, beware. Not all human food is fit for cat consumption. Some of it can be downright dangerous. If you want to avoid any last-minute trips to the emergency clinic, it pays to know exactly what Thanksgiving foods are A-Okay with your cat’s digestion, and which ones are best avoided. If you want to cook the kind of Thanksgiving meal your cat can enjoy just as much as you, here’s how to do it.
Foods to Enjoy
When you’re making up your cat’s plate of food, be sure to load up on the following feline-friendly treats.
- Turkey – Cats are carnivores. It makes sense, then, that a bit of Thanksgiving turkey isn’t going to do them any harm at all. Whether they chow down on the skin, the breast, the leg, or the wing, they’ll be getting a big dose of protein and lots of lip-smacking flavors to boot. Just be make sure they don’t accidentally get any bones along with the meat: dealing with a turkey bone stuck in your cat’s gullet is not the way you want to end your day, trust me. Also be aware that garlic, onions, and shallots can be deadly to cats, so give them a miss and cook your turkey plain.
- Goose and Duck – Turkey might be traditional, but it’s not the only Thanksgiving bird in the world. Plenty of people like to base their meal around a goose or duck, both of which, you’ll be glad to know, are just as safe for your cat as turkey is. If your cat’s a bit on the porky side, do as catological.com recommends and skip the skin and liver (both of which are loaded with fat) and stick to the muscle meat. The same rule about avoiding herbs and dressing mentioned previously also applies here.
- Pumpkin – Although treating your cat to a slice of pumpkin pie isn’t wise, a spoonful of mashed, plain pumpkin is perfectly fine to feed your cat – it could even help them digest the rest of their meal. If your cat’s a pumpkin addict, treat them to a Thanksgiving Pumpkin Smoothie. As catingtonpost.com explains, it’s easy enough to make and is packed with fiber and vitamin A. Simply blend 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (or you can make your own if you prefer) with 1/2 cup of plain non-fat yogurt. Once it’s thoroughly blended, pour into 8 small paper cups. You can treat your cat to one straight away, and either refrigerate or freeze the rest for later.
- Green Beans – Let’s face it, cats aren’t exactly known for their love of green vegetables. If you happen to have an exception, a few green beans will make a healthy addition to their plate. Just be certain to boil the beans in plain water and avoid adding any big dollops of butter or salt.
- Potatoes – Although a great big pile of mashed potato isn’t going to go down well with your cat, a tiny teaspoon won’t do them any harm. Just make sure to prepare the potatoes plain – hold fire on adding any tasty additions like cheese, butter, sour cream, or salt and pepper until after you’ve served your kitty.
- Cranberry Sauce – If you can, make the cranberry sauce yourself so you can control the ingredients. If you can’t, buy whichever store-bought version you can find that contains the most amount of fruit and the least amount of sugar or other additives. Avoid all and any artificial sweeteners and don’t under any circumstances choose one with xylitol – even the smallest amount can be treacherous to animals. Providing you manage all that, giving a tiny little taste to your cat won’t be a problem.
And Foods to Avoid
No matter how imploringly they look at you, resist any temptation to offer your cat any of the following.
- Alcohol – You probably know already that giving alcohol to any kind of animal is a no-no. In case you missed the memo, then hear it is: never, ever give your cat alcohol. It doesn’t matter if it’s been watered down to extinction, mixed with cream, or cooked into a sauce – just don’t do it. As cattime.com explains, just one teaspoon of grain alcohol can induce alcohol toxicity in cats… and trust me, that’s not something you ever want to induce willingly. If you want your cat to have a little holiday buzz, treat them to some catnip instead.
- Onions, garlic, leeks, and other alliums – If there’s one thing that’s got zero place in a cat’s diet, it’s alliums. Although they might be great for us, it’s a completely different story for cats. Even a small amount can have a devastating effect on their red blood cells. Without prompt treatment, it can quickly lead to anemia. And even if they manage to avoid that, there’ll still be more than enough vomiting, diarrhea, and soaring heart rates to contend with.
- Stuffing – A big bowl of stuffing might be the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t be tempted to load your cat’s plate in the same way. Store-bought stuffing mixes are usually packed with salt, garlic, and other seasonings, none of which will do your cat’s health any good at all. Even if you make it yourself to exclude alliums and other nasties, it’s likely to still be too rich and fatty for your cat’s digestion to tolerate.
- Gravy – A tiny taste of gravy is fine. But anything more than a lick should be avoided. Gravy might be yummy, and your cat might think so too, but all that fat and salt lurking in its depths isn’t going to do your cat’s heart an ounce of good.