This Thanksgiving, as you’re preparing the family feast, don’t forget about your favorite feline friends. There are a number of human foods that are safe for cats, but many others that are best left out of a food bowl.
Safe Foods for Cats
Cats respond best to natural foods, cooked for better digestion. These include:
Apples: A great source for antioxidants and fiber, cut apples into small pieces and always remove the peel and seeds before serving.
Bananas: In some parts of the country, fruit salad is a popular Thanksgiving dish. No fruit salad is complete without bananas, which are also a safe and healthy snack for cats!
Bread: Fine for felines, but limit to plain varieties without nuts or seeds. In fact, limit kitty’s amount of bread as a whole: a few small pieces are a nice treat, but too much, like in humans, causes weight gain. Also, never, ever feed your cat raw yeasted dough, which can cause ethanol poisoning.
Broccoli: Steamed or boiled broccoli is full of antioxidants and one of the best vegetables your can feed your cat.
Potatoes: The flesh of regular or sweet potatoes can be given to cats in moderation as long as they’re cooked. Never feed a cat under-ripe or raw potatoes, which contain solanine, a compound that can damage the nervous system.
Pumpkin and Squash: When cooked, these quintessential fall gourds are great for your cat. Add puree of either (or both!) to dry or wet food.
Turkey or chicken: Lean meats, like turkey or chicken, are great protein sources for your cat. Be sure to remove any skin or extra fat.
NEVER Feed to Felines
While there are plenty of foods perfectly healthy for kitty, some should never be fed to felines, such as:
Alcohol: Alcohol and animals don’t mix. Even small amounts of booze can result in ethanol poisoning with symptoms that can include lethargy, seizures, heart attack, lung failure, and death.
Bones: While giving your cat bones with a bit of meat might not seem like that big of a deal, you should think twice. Cooked bones can splinter and, if swallowed, they can become lodged in your cat’s throat or cause tears in the esophagus.
Canned fish: Fresh tuna or salmon are excellent protein sources for cats, but their canned counterparts are loaded with sodium. Wet cat food is a much better choice.
Chocolate: Even in small quantities, chocolate can be toxic or, even, lethal to cats. The darker the chocolate, the higher the risk of an extreme reaction. Symptoms of cholate poisoning can include seizure, heart palpitations, and sudden death.
Coffee, tea, or any caffeinated drink: Caffeine is dangerous for cats and can cause hyperactivity, heart palpitations, trouble breathing, and muscle tremors. If left untreated, caffeine poisoning can cause death.
Grapes and raisins: Highly toxic to cats, grapes and their dehydrated cousins can cause gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and kidney failure.
Milk and dairy products: People often think of milk and cats going together like peanut butter and jelly, but that’s simply not the case. While some cats have no problem digesting dairy, many others are intolerant to lactose, which can cause a host of stomach issues. Best to keep the milk and cheese away.
Mushrooms: A common ingredient in stuffing and other Thanksgiving sides, mushrooms are a favorite of cats, but you should resist sharing. Depending on the variety, mushrooms can be highly toxic causing gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage. Reaction to digestion can be delayed up to 24 hours so watch your cat closely if you think they might have gotten their paws on a stray toadstool.
Onions: Depending on the amount consumed, onions (and all members of the Allium family) can cause symptoms ranging from mild stomach upset to anemia.
Raw meat or fish: Always cook meat or fish before serving to your feline friend. Raw meat or fish can transmit food-borne pathogens, like salmonella, which can make your cat sick.
Unless instructed by a veterinarian, the core of your cat’s diet should be food specially made for felines. This doesn’t mean though that there isn’t room for the occasional treat and what better time for a little food-related love than on Thanksgiving?