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What Can My Cat Eat at Thanksgiving? 16 Vet Reviewed Do’s & Don’ts

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

What Can My Cat Eat at Thanksgiving? 16 Vet Reviewed Do’s & Don’ts


Dr. Joanna Woodnutt Photo


Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

MRCVS, Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Anyone who thinks dogs are the biggest beggars of food in the pet world clearly hasn’t met a cat! However, not all people food is good for our pets.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, you may want to celebrate with your four-legged pal by giving them a taste off your plate. But is it safe? What can cats eat at Thanksgiving?

There are a few items that are okay for them (in moderation!), but several that aren’t. Below you’ll find the dos and do nots of feeding your cat some of your Thanksgiving dinner.

divider-catclaw1 The Do’s

Here you’ll find the food items that are safe for your cat to have a nibble of (safe, but not always healthy for them). As long as you’re limiting your pet in what they’re trying off your plate, it should be fine, though. And remember that just like people, not all cats will like or even show interest in all of the following foods!

1. Apples

cat smelling apples
Image Credit: HelloRF-Zcool, Shutterstock

Apples are not only perfectly safe for your feline friends but offer some health benefits, too, as they are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, as well as calcium and fiber. However, cats shouldn’t consume the seeds, leaves, or stems, as these parts of the apple are toxic because they contain cyanide. So be sure to remove these parts of the apple before giving it to your pet. You’ll also want to chop the apple into small cubes for easier eating.

2. Bananas

Image Credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay

If you have fruit salad at Thanksgiving that contains bananas, you can safely give your cat a bit of the banana. They aren’t great for your pet to eat much of, but they aren’t toxic either, and they do contain a few nutrients and minerals your pet needs.

3. Bread

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, pixabay

Bread is one that’s safe for your cat to eat but nutritionally isn’t that great. Cats don’t really need carbs, as they’re obligate carnivores, so bread only offers empty calories — calories that can lead to weight gain if your pet eats too much. If you give your kitty a piece of bread, make sure it’s only plain white or wheat—no seeds, raisins, or nuts.

4. Broccoli

Credit: ImageParty, Pixabay

It’s unlikely your favorite feline will want broccoli , but it is safe to feed them as long as it’s unseasoned and boiled or steamed. It can provide your pet with antioxidants and aid in keeping the digestive system working as it should. Just keep in mind you should always be careful when introducing new foods to your pet.

5. Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce on wooden background
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Cranberry sauce isn’t toxic to cats, but it is quite unhealthy for them due to the amount of sugar. So, if you want to give your pet some, give them an incredibly small taste.

6. Green Beans

green beans
Image Credit: Pixabay

When it comes to veggies you can feed your cat, green beans are a great option—provided they’re plain and haven’t been prepared with butter, spices, herbs, or alliums like garlic and onion. Plain green beans won’t be toxic, and they’ll even offer your pet an excellent source of fiber. You can even use green beans in the place of traditional kitty treats for a healthier snack!

7. Pumpkin

cat pumpkin
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

Plain, cooked pumpkin is delicious, non-toxic, and good for the kitty’s digestive system. In fact, it may even soothe upset stomachs in your pet. Pumpkin being safe, though, doesn’t mean giving your cat pumpkin pie! Pumpkin pie is an entirely different creature that contains sugar and possibly dairy, neither of which are good for your pet. If you do give your cat a bit of pumpkin, we suggest trying it as a puree or mash.

8. Turkey

Image Credit: Andmonk, Shutterstock

Our feline friends are obligate carnivores, so they’ll love having some Thanksgiving turkey! And it’s safe if you ensure it’s plain turkey with no skin, fat, bones, gravy, or spices. Just give your pet a small piece of meat without all that so they can sample it (and don’t let the kitty go hog-wild!). Remember, moderation is key!

Cat ball divider 1The Don’ts

And here are the foods you should never, ever feed your cat as these foods can make your pet quite ill.

9. Alliums

garlic and onions
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

What are alliums? They are members of the Allium family of plants, which include garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, and similar vegetables. Any veggie from the Allium family can be deadly for your cat, as alliums do damage to red blood cells in felines, leading to anemia. Signs of anemia can include weakness, high heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting, and collapse in cats. And felines are more sensitive to alliums than dogs and other animals; in fact, it’s been reported that anemia symptoms can occur after they’ve consumed less than a teaspoon of cooked onions.

10. Bones

chicken bones in a bowl
Image Credit: achirathep, Pixabay

You might think that bones are relatively safe to give to the cat, but they absolutely aren’t! Bones (especially those that are cooked) can splinter or crack, leading to tears in your pet’s mouth, breaking of teeth, choking, and gastrointestinal obstruction. Then there are any possible bacteria that could cause illness to worry about. As safe as it may seem, keep bones far out of your cat’s reach.

11. Chocolate

Image Credit: Alexander Stein, Pixabay

If you’ve been a pet owner for a while, then you should already know that chocolate is a terrible idea for our furry friends. Chocolate is incredibly toxic to cats (and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is!) due to not only the caffeine it contains, but also the theobromine. Your pet consuming chocolate can lead to vomiting, muscle tremors, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, and seizures—it might even lead to death.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t give your pet anything else with caffeine—that means no coffee!

12. Grapes/Raisins

Image Credit: Pixabay

For pets, eating grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure. Even a tiny amount of either of these (or related dehydrated fruits like craisins) can result in illness that includes continuous vomiting, stomach distress, and hyperactivity. Some felines might not have any of these symptoms after eating grapes or raisins, but it doesn’t mean you should risk it by continuing to feed them to your pet. Keep these far out of reach!

13. Gravy

gravy in a bowl
Image Credit: victoria., Unsplash

Gravy might seem like another food that would be on the “Do” side of the list—after all, plenty of cat foods contain gravy, but it’s best not to indulge kitty with this one. Gravy isn’t toxic, but it is salty and fatty, two things cats don’t need a lot of in their diets. And the levels of salt and fat in gravy could cause felines with heart problems to have further issues. If your pet sneaks a lick of gravy, no need to worry, but don’t mix any in with their food.

14. Milk/Dairy

Image Credit: Pixabay

Many think nothing of giving a kitten a bowl of milk, but this is actually a bad idea. Turns out, many felines are lactose intolerant! That means giving your kitty anything containing milk or other dairy products runs the risk of them ending up with a stomach ache, gas, or diarrhea. So, stay away from dairy and give your cat something on the “Do” list instead.

15. Raw Meat or Fish

raw meat
Image By: webandi, Pixabay

Raw meat and fish are similar to bones in that they can carry pathogens (E. coli, Salmonella) that may make your pet ill. The only exception is if you’ve discussed a raw diet for your cat with your vet. Overall, it’s best not to feed your pet raw meats and fish to avoid gastrointestinal upset and other serious illnesses.

16. Stuffing

onions and garlics
Image By: Pixabay

Many Thanksgiving stuffings contain alliums of some kind, such as garlic and onions, which, as we’ve discussed, can be deadly for your cat. But even if you know for a fact that stuffing doesn’t contain alliums, it will likely still contain rich ingredients such as turkey grease that can cause your kitty to develop an upset stomach. Stuffing won’t be deadly, but it’s not nutritional and could wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system.

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

If you want to share some dinner with your favorite feline this Thanksgiving, there are several foods that are safe to serve (in moderation!). However, there are many foods that you absolutely should not give your pet as they can cause illness and even death. As long as you’re careful with what you feed the kitty, though, you can both enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Featured Image Credit: Alexander Prokopenko, Shutterstock

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