Last Updated on August 3, 2021 by Julia Wilson
Thanksgiving dangers to cats at a glance
- Open doors
- Turkey bones and stuffing
- Table scraps and food packaging
- Ribbons and string
Thanksgiving is a time spend with family and friends, and while we may Thanksgiving, it can come with some risks to our pets.
Guests arriving and leaving increase the risk of escapee cats, instruct visitors (especially children) to keep external doors closed at all times.
Welcome and say goodbye behind closed doors, don’t keep the door open longer than necessary.
Make sure all pets have a microchip, with up to date information, and a collar with ID, so if they do escape and somebody finds them, they can be quickly reunited with you.
Cut flowers are a beautiful addition to the thanksgiving home, but many are toxic to cats. Lilies, in particular, are deadly and should not be in a home with cats. Other flowers can range in toxicity from mild to severe.
Where possible, select cat-friendly flowers, if you do have toxic flowers in the home, keep then out of reach of cats.
Cats can safely eat turkey meat, but not the skin or stuffing. Stuffing contains onion and garlic, which are both toxic and can cause Heinz body hemolytic anemia which is a life-threatening disease in which the red blood cells are destroyed due to the formation of Heinz bodies.
A small amount of skin won’t hurt a cat, but it is high in fat and often contains seasoning, which is not good for cats.
The biggest risk from the roast turkey is cooked bones, which can splinter and cause damage to the cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
So, stick with a little cooked turkey meat, but remove the skin and never feed stuffing or bones.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are central nervous system stimulants. Dark chocolate has the highest levels, followed by milk chocolate; white chocolate contains almost no theobromine.
The high-fat content of chocolate can also cause pancreatitis, an extremely painful inflammation of the pancreas due to the inappropriate activation of digestive enzymes which begin to break down and digest the pancreas.
Cats are less likely to consume chocolate than dogs, but to be safe, keep it away from cats.
Keep candles out of reach of cats to avoid accidental burns or knocking the candle down — place candles on a sturdy surface that the cat can’t access. Never leave cats in the same room as lit candles without supervision.
String and ribbon
Butcher’s string and decorative ribbons can be appealing to cats but are not without risk. When a cat ingests a linear foreign object, one end can lodge at the base of the tongue or the pylorus. Wave-like contractions propel the free end along the GI tract but because the object is anchored and cannot move the GI tract creeps up the trailing part and becomes plicated (folded).
Never give string or ribbon to cats to play with, butcher’s string is particularly appealing to cats because it has meat residue on it.
If you want to give your cat a small thanksgiving treat, a small amount of cooked turkey won’t hurt (unless the cat is on a therapeutic diet or food elimination trial), but don’t share table scraps with the cat. We have highlighted the dangers of turkey and chocolate, but many other thanksgiving foods can cause dietary issues for cats which includes bread, potatoes and gravy.
Avoid anything with garlic, onion, raisins and alcohol and dispose of tinned foil and other food wrappers. Don’t leave food lying around, cover and store in a refrigerator. Before you go to bed, take the kitchen waste out to prevent the cat from raiding the bin when everybody has gone to bed.
Cats are creatures of habit and don’t like changes in routine which can be stressful to cats. Guests coming and going, noise, children can all be stressful to cats. Always give your cat a quiet area to retreat to which is off-limits to guests and don’t force a cat to interact with people if he or she doesn’t want to.
Make sure the cat has easy access to fresh food and water as well as the litter tray, where they don’t have to walk past strangers. If necessary, set up a room with your cat’s things. This should be away from guests, in a quiet part of the house.