When we think of the Thanksgiving holiday, we think of food, family, friends and celebration. Did I mention food? This should be a time of feasts and fun, whether you are enjoying your holiday in a big or small way. One thing you don’t want to have to deal with on Thanksgiving is a trip to the pet emergency clinic so here are 12 simple tips for keeping your cat safe so everyone, including kitty, can enjoy the holiday.
1. Protect your cat’s tummy
You and your guests should enjoy all the holiday food but don’t feed any to your cat. Most holiday foods are too rich and fatty for cats. Stick to your cat’s regular diet because rich foods can cause gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea and uncomfortable gas. You probably will have that one guest who can’t resist sneaking a little tidbit to your cat so it’s best to advise everyone in advance not to feed the cat no matter how cute and irresistible she may look.
2. Stuff the turkey and not the cat
Keep the turkey stuffing away from your cat. Stuffing often contains onions, garlic, raisins and spices. These are all toxic to cats. The aromas from atop the kitchen counter can be too hard for a cat to resist so be very mindful while you prepare and stuff the turkey.
3. Keep tabs on the front door
It’s easy for a cat to dart out the door when guests come and go. Make sure your cat has a collar with ID and is microchipped. If you have a cat who tends to door-dart, keep her in a separate room, away from the door.
4. No raw turkey for cats
Don’t feed raw or undercooked turkey to your cat because of the danger of salmonella bacteria. Thoroughly wash all cutting boards, prep areas and utensils that have come in contact with the raw turkey because your cat can easily sneak up on the counter and start licking contaminated areas.
5. Hazards of food wrappings
Any wrapping that contains the smell of food, such as aluminum foil, plastic wrap, waxed paper, strings used to tie turkey legs or plastic cooking bags, can be very enticing for your cat but can also pose a serious choking hazard. Don’t leave these items on the counter or exposed in an open trash can. Dispose of wrappings immediately and don’t be tempted to toss a crumpled up aluminum foil ball for your cat to play with.
6. Don’t leave the turkey carcass or other leftovers out
Cooked turkey bones can create an emergency situation if your cat chews or swallows them. Cooked poultry bones easy splinter and can get caught in the throat or esophagus. They can also cause intestinal blockage or perforation which can lead to infection. Turkey gristle also poses a choking hazard.
7. Keep your cat away from the trash
Make sure trash cans are either covered or stored in cabinets to prevent your cat from diving in there and gaining access to bones, gristle or other dangerous trash. If you have quite a few guests over and are celebrating throughout the day, take the time to empty the trash several times.
8. Chocolate is toxic to cats
Keep chocolate away from your cat. All chocolate is highly toxic and can even be fatal. The toxic ingredient is the caffeine-like theobromine and is present in all chocolate. Baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate and semi-sweet are the most deadly if ingested by pets. After your guests leave, do a careful check around the area for any pieces of candy that may have dropped on the floor. Cats don’t typically have a sweet tooth but some cats do develop a taste for them if they’ve been offered enough by cat parents.
9. Provide a quiet place for your cat
While you may enjoy lots of company, it can be stressful and confusing to your cat. If she’s typically timid or you feel she may become too stressed, keep her away from the chaos by placing her in a room with some toys, her litter box and a few hiding places. If she gets very stressed by the noise and chaos, play some soft classical music or play “Through a Cat’s Ear” in the room to help buffer the noise and provide a soothing environment. For distraction, offer a couple of puzzle feeders for her to keep her busy.
10. Stress management for you and your cat
Thanksgiving can be stressful for everyone, including the cat. Take time to do some interactive play sessions. It can be easy to forget to do daily playtime with your cat, especially if you’re distracted by visiting family, but playtime is a huge help in relieving stress. It may also be helpful to you to take a few minutes to unwind by playing with your cat.
11. Keep your cat’s schedule as normal as possible
If you think you may forget, set a timer on your phone so you don’t miss a cat’s normal mealtime or medication schedule. If your cat is used to receiving lots of attention and you know you won’t be able to interact as much during the holiday, offer a puzzle feeder to keep your cat occupied.
12. Home alone cat
If you’ll be traveling for Thanksgiving and plan on leaving your cat home, be sure to hire a professional pet sitter or have a very reliable friend check on your cat at least twice a day. Don’t leave your cat home alone. The other option is to reserve a spot at a boarding facility for your cat but in most cases, cats are much more comfortable staying in their own familiar environment. If you do arrange for a pet sitter or friend, make sure you also have a back-up plan in case of bad weather. Talk to a trusted neighbor who would be willing to come in and care for your cat if the pet sitter is unable to travel to your house.
Need More Information?
For more specific information on cat behavior, health or training, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett. Pam’s books are available at book stores everywhere or through your favorite online book retail site. Books can also be easily purchased through our website.
Wishing you and your cats a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Please note that Pam is unable to answer questions posted in the comment section. If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian.