Foods to Keep Away from Your Cat During the Holidays

It is natural to want to include your cats in the celebration during the holidays, but before you do, be aware of what foods are safe and what foods are not. Cats are part of the family, so you want to keep them safe but still include them in the festivities.

Cats should not consume turkey meat that has been seasoned with herbs and spices. Many herbs and spices used to marinate the turkey are often toxic to cats. You should not give your feline pumpkin pie or alcohol.

human food to not feed your cat

You can make some of these foods safe for your cat by simplifying them, except for alcohol and chocolate. Pets should never consume these foods. There are, however, safe ways to include your fur baby in the holiday celebration.

Read the following facts to find out what foods to keep away from your cat this holiday season.

What Holiday Foods are Bad for Your Cat?

Holiday foods (see video) can be dangerous or toxic to cats. Even though there are a few exceptions, it is generally best to keep them away from the dinner table altogether unless the food is perfectly safe and free of seasoning and other ingredients.

The following are some of the foods that your cat should not consume during the holiday festivities:

Seasoned Turkey Meat or Turkey Skin and Bones

The seasoning on turkey is not good for cats. Often, the herbs we use to make our Thanksgiving foods are loaded with ingredients such as:

  • Onions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Garlic

Often, it is hard to know what herbs and spices will harm your pet, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You should avoid feeding your cat meats with seasoning or oils because this can make your cat ill.

Turkey skin can cause a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. When cats eat turkey skin, it can trigger a large production of enzymes in their body, which can cause the pancreas to malfunction, and the outcome is that the enzymes digest the pancreas.

Some of the signs of pancreatitis include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Cooked turkey bones are also dangerous for cats. The bones can get stuck in the throat or intestines, which causes a life-threatening emergency. Most pet emergencies that take place during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, involve turkey meat or bones.


Thanksgiving dressing is typically made with dangerous ingredients such as onions and garlic. These foods can cause life-threatening anemia in your cat. In severe cases, garlic toxicity can lead to organ damage, organ failure, or death.

Even though onions are toxic to your pet, garlic is about five times worse for cats.  A cat’s weight, overall health, and breed all influence their susceptibility to garlic poisoning. Some of the indications of garlic toxicity in cats include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • High respiratory rate
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Oral irritation

If you think that your feline has consumed garlic, seek medical attention for them right away. After your cat eats garlic, it can take up to two to four days for signs of toxicity to appear. Be mindful of that if you notice anything unusual in your cat a day or two after a family dinner.

Do not give your cat any turkey with stuffing this Thanksgiving.

Salads with Grapes or Raisins

There are many festive salads around the holidays, such as ambrosia and fruit salad. Grapes and raisins are poisonous to felines, and you need to be vigilant to keep those foods away from your fur baby. Grapes and raisins can lead to fatal consequences, as they can cause kidney failure.

Grapes are toxic to pets because they are unable to metabolize the following:

  • Specific elements of the grape, such as the tannins
  • Toxin or pesticides that may be present on the skin of the grape
  • Chemicals within the grape that can lead to kidney damage
  • The juice within the grape

If you believe your cat has eaten grapes or raisins, do not hesitate to take them to the emergency vet. Ensure your pet can not access grapes or raisins and do not feed them as treats.


There is a chance that you’ll enjoy a glass of wine with your Thanksgiving meal, however, alcohol is not safe for cats. Their bodies are so much smaller than humans, and even one teaspoon of alcohol can be lethal for your cat.

A teaspoon or two of alcohol can render your cat comatose, and larger quantities will end in death for your cat. These are all examples of the amount of alcohol that is lethal to cats:

  • 12 -ounces of beer
  • 4 -ounce glass of wine
  • 25 shot of whiskey

All the above contain enough ethanol to kill your cat. Most pets who have ingested alcohol show symptoms within thirty minutes to several hours after consumption. The following are symptoms of alcohol poisoning in cats:

  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Staggering
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If you see some of the above indications in your cat, immediately take them to the emergency vet. Your cat could lose their life in a matter of hours if not treated.

Chocolate Desserts

Chocolate is toxic to cats, and darker chocolates are more harmful. Chocolate contains the ingredients theobromine and caffeine, and both are toxic to cats if they consume a large enough amount of it. Some of the symptoms of chocolate toxicity in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hyperactivity

The toxic dose of theobromine in cats is about 200mg. Different types of chocolate include different amounts of theobromine. The worst kind of chocolate for your cat to consume:

  • Baking chocolate
  • Semi-sweet chocolate
  • Dark chocolate

If you notice any of the above signs or find out your cat has eaten chocolate, you need to get them emergency treatment right away. Cats could have trouble breathing, and they could even die from chocolate toxicity.

What Holiday Foods Can Cats Eat?

As above, there are quite a few foods your cat should not have; however, your feline could be dining along with you during the holidays with a few adjustments.


Plain turkey without seasoning or fatty skin is safe for most cats to eat. Cats are natural carnivores, and they need plenty of protein to develop healthy muscle and provide energy. Besides being a good source of protein, turkey also provides nutrients such as:

  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Niacin
  • Selenium
  • Choline

The tryptophan can also help with your cat’s mood and sleep. Fresh, lean, roasted turkey breast is safe for your cat. Many commercial cat foods contain turkey as well. Please do not give your cat turkey that has been cooked in herbs or seasonings, and do not give them skin and bones.


Pumpkin is good for your cat’s digestive health, as it provides a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Pumpkin also contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

All the above can help improve your cat’s immunity and overall health. Zinc also helps to keep your cat’s coat healthy and shiny.

A canned pumpkin is the best option for your fur baby. Pumpkin is also in some commercial cat foods.

However, pumpkin pie and pumpkin seeds are not good for your cat. Pumpkin pie is full of sugar, and it also contains nutmeg, which is harmful to cats.

Contact Your Vet for More Info About Foods Cats Can and Can’t Eat

Many holiday foods are toxic to cats. If you want to include them in the festivities, feed them plain turkey with no seasonings, bones, or skin. Pumpkin is also suitable for them but not pumpkin pie. During this holiday season, keep this list of foods that are toxic to your fur baby in mind.

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