Thanksgiving is a time to gather with your family and loved ones and reflect on all the things you’re grateful for. While it’s a heartwarming holiday for humans, it can be stressful for cats. Thanksgiving preparations usually disrupt the usual routine that cats are used to, and some cats may feel timid with having so many guests in the home.
Fortunately, you can do some things to help your cat feel more comfortable during the holidays. These practical tips will help you create a cat-friendly Thanksgiving and ensure that your cat enjoys the holiday season with the rest of the family.
The 6 Tips for Having a Cat-Friendly Thanksgiving
1. Store Ingredients Securely
Traditional Thanksgiving food typically contains ingredients that are harmful or toxic to cats. Some ingredients that are toxic to cats include garlic, onions, oregano, raisins, and alcohol. Some foods may not necessarily be toxic, but they can still be bad for your cat’s health or make them sick. Such ingredients include dairy products, sugar, fat trimmings, and cooked bones.
Since there are many ingredients that are unsafe for cats, it’s important to keep tabs on each one and ensure that your cat can’t get to them. Store ingredients in containers with secure lids, and don’t leave any food in your kitchen unattended.
2. Create a Cat Room
There are several benefits to creating a separate room for your cats to stay in during Thanksgiving Day. First, it ensures that they’re in a safe place while you cook and prepare, and you don’t have to worry about them getting into any food or holiday decorations. Shy cats will like having a secluded, safe space that they can retreat to when guests are over. Cleaning your home and keeping your cats in a separate room can also benefit your guests, especially if they have cat allergies.
When creating a cat room, make sure to include some cozy resting places, like blankets, pillows, and cat beds. Add a clean litter box and scatter some of your cat’s favorite toys around the room.
3. Create a Schedule
Getting your home ready for Thanksgiving when you live with cats takes extra preparation. Creating a schedule can help you stay on task and ensure that everything gets done while keeping everyone safe.
Some things to include in your schedule are food preparation, decorations, table placements, and cleaning up pet hair. Make sure to keep your schedule realistic. While it sounds nice to get all your prep work ready in one day, it’s more likely that you’ll tackle your to-do list in the span of several days.
4. Use Cat-Safe Decorations
Thanksgiving decorations can spark a cat’s curiosity. These strange structures and items may intrigue cats, and they may see them as things they can climb on or play with. Since it’s difficult to predict how a cat will interact with decorations, it’s often best to play it safe and choose cat-friendly decorations.
Avoid any decorations with sharp points or long garlands that your cat can get tangled up in or ingest. If you want to use candles, only set them out and light them on the night of Thanksgiving and always make sure your cat is supervised or in their safe space away from the candles.
5. Exercise Your Cat
Exercising your cat on Thanksgiving Day can help them stay calm. Cats with pent-up energy can resort to running around and causing chaos in the house, especially when their usual routines are being disrupted. So, set aside some time in your schedule to play with your cats before your guests arrive. You can also let them play with enrichment toys, like treat dispensing toys and puzzles, to keep them engaged and prevent boredom while you entertain your guests.
6. Use Cat Calming Products
Some cats respond well to calming products, like diffusers, sprays, and supplements. Synthetic feline facial pheromones are available in diffusers and sprays and these can reassure and comfort cats especially when there are changes in their environment. Calming supplements contain a variety of ingredients including L-tryptophan, milk proteins, B vitamins and valerian. Your vet can give you advice on choosing the best one for your cat.
It’s important to note, however, that not all cats will respond to these calming products. So, it’s best to test them out on your cat well in advance to see if they’re effective. It’s also helpful to use them on your cat after they’ve exercised and eaten. A content cat is more likely to stay relaxed than one that’s bursting with energy or feeling hungry.
Can Cats Eat Thanksgiving Food?
If you want to include your cat in the Thanksgiving festivities, you can do so by giving them special Thanksgiving treats. While cats can’t eat most Thanksgiving dishes, you can still set aside some ingredients that are safe for them to eat. For example, your cat will appreciate having a few pieces of unseasoned, fully cooked turkey, carrots, and sweet potatoes, as long as they don’t have any health issues such as food allergies or intolerances.
It’s best to refrain from giving your cat any gravies or soups. Soups can contain herbs and seasonings that are unsafe for cats. Gravies are often too fatty and can cause cats to feel sick and get an upset stomach. Eating fatty foods can also lead to pancreatitis, a painful and serious inflammation of the pancreas. As a general rule of thumb, check to make sure the ingredient you want to give your cat isn’t toxic, and give it to them fully cooked and unseasoned.
It takes a little extra work, but it’s very possible to host a cat-friendly Thanksgiving dinner at your home. It’s helpful to plan out your to-do list well in advance with a realistic timeline so that you have plenty of time to get all your preparation done.
Create a designated safe room for your cat to stay in, or retreat to, while you entertain guests. Make sure also to give your cat plenty of exercise and test out any calming products or supplements beforehand. Taking time to prepare your cat for Thanksgiving will be worth the investment and ensure that they remain stress-free throughout the holidays.
Featured Image Credit: Dikushin Dmitry, Shutterstock