8 Ways to Have a Cat-Safe Thanksgiving

Colder weather and the fall and winter holidays, such as Thanksgiving, pose unique problems for cats. You're obviously thankful for the companionship of your cats, so keep them safe during the holiday with these tips.

  • 01 of 08
    Photo of Cat Eating a Thanksgiving Meal of Canned Cat Food
    Cat Eating a Thanksgiving Meal of Canned Cat Food. photo © Getty Images / Michael Bodmann

    Traditional Thanksgiving dinners are often loaded with ingredients that can make cats very ill, such as onion-laced stuffing and gravy, vegetables with rich sauces, and that butter-basted turkey itself. Allow kitty to join in the celebration with a thin sliver or two of turkey breast or giblet. Better yet, feed him a nutritious meal of canned cat food before the family dinner, along with a teaspoon or two of plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) for a later "dessert."

  • 02 of 08
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    Marser/Moment Open/Getty Images

    Cats will hide up in the wheel well of a car or seek the warmth of an engine if left outdoors during cold weather, and unspeakable things can happen to them should an unwary motorist start up the car with a cat under the hood. Ideally, cats should be kept indoors year-round, but especially so during the colder months.

  • 03 of 08
    511944213CatLyingUndefCar_Yamaki-Yur-EyeEm.jpg
    Cat Lying Under a Car. Getty Images / Yamaki Yur-EyeEm

    You may be tempted to put your cats in the garage to keep them out of the way when your Thanksgiving visitors arrive. This is not a good idea for several reasons.

    Anti-freeze is both attractive and deadly to cats. Anti-freeze and caustic chemicals stored in the garage spell certain disaster if a cat comes in contact with them. Although it may seem like an attractive idea to keep a normally indoor-outdoor cat in the garage over the winter, please keep them in the house. If you need to keep your...MORE indoor-only cats away from the festivities, consider a "Safe Room," as discussed below.

  • 04 of 08
    Photo of Winter Holiday Candles
    Winter Holiday Candles. Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto / Joe Brandt

    If you must decorate with candles, keep them unlit unless cats are securely locked in a bedroom. A cornucopia or attractive bowl or basket filled with fruit makes a beautiful table decoration. If you like the effect of lights, there are some very attractive LED candles on the market now - less messy and just as cheerful as real flames.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    Roast Turkey Dinner. Photo Credit: © iStockPhotos / Joe Biafore

    Let's face it: some foods are just too rich for cats and will cause tummy upsets, sometimes even diarrhea. Cats with specific medical problems should eat the special foods prescribed for those problems. Giving them table scraps will only ruin their appetites for the foods they really need.

    On the more serious end of the scale, certain foods are downright toxic to cats and should be avoided at all times. That gravy-slathered turkey likely contains onions, which are highly toxic to cats. The...MORE bottom line is that it may be okay to give kitty a tiny scrap of roasted turkey (in the kitchen, not at the table), but avoid encouraging "cats as dinner guests," if you get the gist.

  • 06 of 08

    Cats may feel neglected when a crowd of visitors consumes your time. Try to set aside 15 minutes to spend some quiet time with your cat an hour or so before guests are due to arrive. Ask Aunt Mabel to stir the gravy while you give kitty more lovies just before dinner. You'll both be more relaxed, and you can enjoy your friends and family without guilt.

  • 07 of 08

    Think "Safe Room"

    While some cats thoroughly enjoy visitors, many cats do not. It may be better to confine those cats to their "safe room" for the duration. It should be similar to the safe room you'd provide for a new cat. At least, be sure to provide litter box, fresh water, and "play-alone" toys so they feel comforted rather than ignored.

  • 08 of 08
    Bach's Rescue Remedy
    Bach's Rescue Remedy. Photo Credit: Courtesy of PriceGrabber

    An overly-nervous cat may be substantially helped by the use of natural remedies, such as flower essences, herbal remedies, or other holistic aids for stress. I'd suggest starting them a day or two prior to the holiday, as some of these remedies take longer to become effective.