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Can cats eat turkey? These are the Thanksgiving foods your cat can eat safely

Want to celebrate Thanksgiving with your cat? Here are the safest foods

A Himalayan cat eating a treat outdoors surrounded by fallen leaves
freestocks-photos / Pixabay

Our cats are more than just furry roommates; they’re members of our family. The holiday season is a time of gratitude, togetherness, and good food. With Thanksgiving upon us, you may be asking yourself, “Can cats eat turkey?” While there are plenty of foods you won’t be able to share with your feline friend, many common holiday staples make it onto the approved list.

We’ve researched the best Thanksgiving foods safe for cats. Stick to the ones on our list, and your fur baby will have a happy Thanksgiving this year.

A black and white cat lying on a cream knitted sweater. Thanksgiving decorations are placed artfully nearby.
Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock

1. Turkey

Have you ever wondered, “Can cats eat turkey?” The answer is “yes.” While you don’t want to serve your cat the crispy skin from a Cajun-fried turkey that’s been heavily seasoned with spices, a few bites of meat provide your fur baby with a protein-packed snack. But don’t give your cat more than an ounce of turkey in one sitting or you could hurt her digestive tract.  

A cat eating out of a food dish
sweetlouise / Pixabay

2. Broccoli

Antioxidant-rich broccoli is yet another holiday favorite that your cat can safely enjoy. Because cats are lactose intolerant, you should serve the broccoli steamed, without butter, and unsalted. Broccoli is also high in fiber, making it a great snack for cats who suffer from occasional constipation. You’ll want to start off slowly if you’ve never fed your cat this veggie before. While it’s generally well tolerated, broccoli may cause flatulence, stomach cramping, and diarrhea in some cats. 

Cat licking lips over food bowl
Laura Chouette / Unsplash

3. Apples

Your cat is in for a treat if an apple pie is a must-have on your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Just like us, cats derive nutritional value from the pectin, calcium, and vitamins found in apples. Apple peels also boast phytonutrients, which combine with other nutrients to improve their efficacy. Slice an apple into tiny bites — no cinnamon and sugar for your kitty — and your cat will be able to enjoy a sweet and tasty snack this Thanksgiving (remember, no seeds). 

A fluffy gray cat perches in a windowsill surrounded by autumnal decor
Shutterstock / Maria Moroz

4. Dinner rolls

While bread has no nutritional value for cats, a few morsels of a fully cooked dinner roll won’t cause any harm. Please refrain from giving your cat undercooked bread, as uncooked dough releases alcohol and carbon dioxide into the bloodstream. Uncooked yeast also causes swelling in the stomach, which can have potentially life-threatening consequences.

A black and white kitten sits beside decorative Thanksgiving foods
Bogdan Sonjachnyj / Shutterstock

5. Pumpkin

We don’t advise feeding your fur baby a slice of pumpkin pie, but roasted or pureed pumpkin make excellent snacks for cats. Pumpkin contains lots of fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamins, and water, so it’s nutritionally dense and hydrating. Some vets actually recommend pumpkin to help cats with digestive issues, so your fur baby shouldn’t suffer any gastrointestinal upset from this brightly hued snack. 

Orange tabby cat eating from an orange bowl.
Okksi / Adobe Stock

6. Bananas

Fruit salad is a common Thanksgiving dish in certain parts of the United States, especially in the South. You’ll want to skip this treat if your cat suffers from diabetes. While bananas are rich in potassium and fiber, they’re also high in sugar. You should also note that the banana’s high fiber content may cause digestive issues in some cats. When in doubt, give your fur baby a tiny bite to make sure she can digest it easily. (And remove all the stringy bits left behind by the peel; they can be a choking hazard for your kitty.)

A tabby cat eating a treat.
Danielle Donders / Getty Images

7. Potatoes

Whether you boil them, bake them, or mash them, potatoes are a Thanksgiving Day essential. Luckily for your cat, she can eat them, too. Make sure your potatoes are thoroughly cooked before you feed them to your cat. Uncooked potatoes contain a chemical called solanine that is toxic to cats, so take precautions to properly dispose of uncooked potato peel when you’re prepping for dinner. Cats can also eat sweet potatoes, provided they aren’t drenched in butter and sugar before you serve them.  

Two cats being fed a treat by their human
Westend61 / Getty Images

What foods can’t cats eat?

We’ve established that some classic feast foods will give you one happy kitty, but others should always stay off the list. On the ingredients side, avoid all spices, sugar, and lactose, including milk. These make food delicious to us, but have no place in a cat’s diet and won’t sit well in her tummy.

Other things to avoid include any cooked animal bones, grapes (and raisins), stuffing, and products that contain Xylitol. Some of these will just give your cat a bit of a bellyache, but others, like turkey and chicken bones, can require an emergency vet visit. Don’t hesitate to follow up with your feline doctor if she does ingest something you aren’t sure about.

Our cats are part of our family, and what better time to celebrate family than during Thanksgiving? Not all holiday foods are safe for your feline friend, so make sure to consult a list of what you shouldn’t feed your cat just to be on the safe side. When in doubt, speak to your vet before feeding your fur baby human food. Your vet knows anything in your cat’s medical history that could make human food a no-go, and they can recommend serving sizes if your cat is able to share in the family feast. 

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Mary Johnson
Contributor
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
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