While the family dog is more likely to end up with table scraps than the cat, you may be tempted to share Thanksgiving leftovers with your feline. The question is, which Thanksgiving foods are actually safe for cats? Let’s run through a list of typical holiday fare and learn more about Thanksgiving foods safe for cats.
First, a caveat
Sure, there are human foods safe for cats—but these should only be served sparingly. Experts recommend allowing your cat no more than 20 calories of safe human food per day. You should also consult with your veterinarian before regularly serving your cat human foods, even those considered safe. And not every cat will react positively: If your kitty has a small bout of upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting following consuming foods safe for cats, she may be a little more sensitive to human food than the average feline.
Thanksgiving foods safe for cats
Skinless, unseasoned turkey
For most families, turkey is a quintessential component of any Thanksgiving dinner. The fact that cats are obligate carnivores bodes well for this particular dish. Lean turkey with the skin removed can be a healthy (and likely favorite) treat for your cat. Just make sure the turkey is plain (unseasoned), as certain ingredients—such as garlic and onions—can be extremely toxic for your feline family member.
Do not give your cat: Turkey fat trimmings, turkey bones, gravy, or anything seasoned with onions, garlic, chives, scallions, leeks, and shallots.
Canned or cooked pumpkin & squash
Many Thanksgiving foods of the orange variety—including cooked or canned pumpkin and squash—are a healthy snack for your feline. For instance, pumpkin provides a lot of fiber that can help with constipation, hairballs, and weight control. 100% canned pumpkin is the best option (without additives, fillers, sugar, or spices).
Do not give your cat: Pumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, sweet potato casserole, or candied yams—all of these sweet treats are likely to contain sugars and spices that will upset your cat’s stomach.
Cooked peas, carrots, & green beans
Some vegetables contain the added nutrients, fiber, and water that any cat could use, particularly for digestive issues. Cook or steam peas, carrots, and green beans for easier consumption.
Do not give your cat: Green bean casserole (which usually includes onion and mushroom ingredients), green tomatoes, or any veggies seasoned with garlic, etc.
Peeled apples & blueberries
Even though cats don’t have sweet receptors, certain fruits can aid in digestive issues. If you find that your cat is interested in fruit, make sure it is peeled and without seeds. To improve the chances of your cat actually eating fruit, you may want to mix it into a small amount of plain, unsweetened yogurt.
Do not give your cat: Cranberry sauce or apple pie (too much sugar), or anything with raisins and grapes (even a small amount can cause kidney failure in cats).
Cooked grains & oats
Some cooked grains and oats are healthy Thanksgiving foods for cats, barring they aren’t seasoned with onion and garlic (we’ll remind you again and again!). These include cooked corn/polenta, couscous/millet, bread/breadcrumbs, or oats/oatmeal.
Do not give your cat: Stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, raw dough, seeds and nuts (think pecan pie), or cornbread.
Cottage cheese & plain yogurt
Contrary to popular belief, cats shouldn’t have a lot of dairy. A typical feline can handle small amounts of low-lactose foods that may show up as Thanksgiving sides. These include cottage cheese and plain, unsweetened, low-fat yogurt.
Do not give your cat: Macaroni and cheese, scalloped cheese potatoes, cheesecake, anything high-lactose, ice cream, or chocolate.
Thanksgiving foods safe for cats aren’t exactly plentiful. You’re much better off being cautious when it comes to table scraps and your cat. However, allowing your cat to indulge in a safe treat here and there is usually perfectly fine. From all of us at Litter-Robot, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!