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Should You Feed Your Cat Thanksgiving Leftovers?

With the holiday season approaching and the inevitable bounty of leftover food, you might be wondering if it is okay to feed your cat table scraps. Before your opt to serve King Kitty a Thanksgiving feast, you need to be aware of a few safety precautions, including choking and poison hazards.

Carnivorous Cats & Table Scraps

While most manufacturers of prepared cat food want us to believe that no kitty should be served human food leftovers, the reality is that a cat is a carnivore and it needs meat to survive. In the wild (even if the wild means the ally between two convenience stores), a cat will seek out meat (mice, insects, and discarded meals).

Likewise, your house cat still has the instinctual desire for meat. So, if you routinely consume a sensibly healthy diet of lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables, and that is the source of your table scraps for kitty, then your cat should not have a problem with those foods. In fact, those high quality sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals may actually enhance her nutrition.

Precautions for Feeding a Cat Table Scraps

To put table scraps in perspective--be they from Thanksgiving dinner or any other meal--remember that cats don’t do well on vegetation. So the leafy greens and fruits on your table should not be served to your cat. Additionally, you should be mindful of the following precautions when it comes to table scraps for cats:

  • No Bones About It. Though a street cat may catch and kill a live mouse for their supper, your house cat isn’t quite as skilled with skins and bones. Be sure that the protein (fish, poultry, or meat) is free of bones and skins before you place it in the cat’s supper dish.

  • Warning: Digestive Distress. Offer table scraps in small amounts and combine it with their regular food. Offering the cat straight-up table scraps may cause digestive distress as their system is not use to those foods. Better to keep things light rather than have a cat with nausea, diarrhea, or a digestive medical crisis.

  • Always Place Food in a Food Dish (Never feed scraps from the table). Cats will delight in the ‘real food’ you feed them, but feeding from the dining table or near the stove will lead to a problem. Your cat will habituate to where those tasty table scraps are served and may start jumping onto surfaces where they expect to find food. The last thing you want is your cat landing on a hot stove or in the middle of your mashed potatoes. Always place table scraps in the cat’s food dish while it is placed on the floor.

  • Dairy Myth: Cats and Milk. Despite how often we have seen a cartoon character or asit-com star serving milk to a cat, the reality is cats don’t do well with any kind of dairy product. So please, skip the milk!

  • Food Poison Hazards foII Catarlic, onions and shallots are poisonous to cats! Onions and garlic damage red blood cells & can cause hemolytic anaemia. If you’ve cooked a meal using onions and garlic then those table scraps are off limits for kitty. Become informed about the many other human foods that are hazardous if consumed by a cat.

Safe, Smart Holiday Meal for Your Kitty

When the precautions above are heeded, appropriate and high-quality table food can be fine for your cat. Too much table food, however, can cause a cat to rapidly gain weight--and with obesity being a huge concern among pets, that presents a whole new level of health concerns for your beloved kitty. So be safe and be smart about treating your cat a festive holiday meal.

Learn More Can “Cats Have Table Scraps?

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