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Happy, Safe Thanksgiving to You and Your Cat

Counter surfing may be fun, but it’s not healthy for your cat or you

Guest post by Leslie Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Dogtime

Although holidays often buzz with fun and commotion, they can be scary, or even downright dangerous, for cats.

However, a host can make a Thanksgiving Day celebration safe for cats relatively easily with a few simple precautions.

Giving your cat a safe haven

While some cats are fairly social and get along well with guests, many others are not that comfortable and will be anxious and edgy, perhaps springing out the door if the opportunity arises. In deciding whether to let kitty participate in the Thanksgiving festivities, consider the following (in addition to the cat’s temperament):

• how many guests are coming

• will the doors frequently be opened and closed

• will children be running in and out

• how do the guests respond to cats

In many cases, you will find it simpler, and more calming for your cat, to put him in a bedroom or den and keep the door shut for the duration of the action. The garage and outdoors are not acceptable options for safety reasons. It may be helpful to feed him first to prevent whining. Give the cat access to a litter box, water, a couple of toys, and a place to snuggle and she will be fine.

Putting a “Thank You for Not Entering – Cat’s Room” type note on the door can help prevent unwanted visitors who may inadvertently let the cat out. You might check on kitty a few times during the event to make sure he is okay and to give some TLC, especially if it becomes a long day or night.

Timing matters

It’s rumored that in some households the cat may take the liberty of walking across the kitchen counters or dining room table. Although the host may not even notice such activity anymore, it is really not a good practice for health reasons (those same little feet spend time in the litter box) and your guests may be grossed out. Thus, counter-walking cats should be kept out of the kitchen during preparation and during dinner when the extra food is just sitting there calling, “Fluffy, come have a snack!”

If kitty cannot be kept off the dining table, you may need to wait to set the table until you move the cat to the day’s safe haven. And definitely do not light candles while the cat has access to the table. Many a kitty whisker has been singed, or worse, by cats investigating candle flames too closely.

Save the leftovers for yourself

While it may be tempting to cut up some turkey leftovers for the cat, the safest and most predictable course is to skip it and stick with the cat’s regular diet. Unless your cat is accustomed to a diet of table scraps, feeding her Thanksgiving leftovers may very well upset her stomach. Even worse, onions are toxic to cats so any dish that contains onions is strictly off limits. If you do opt to give her some turkey, remember not to feed her the any bones.

Finally, don’t forget to take a moment to thank your cat. Where would you be without the friendship, love, and laughs?