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Plan Ahead for a Safe Thanksgiving

By Dr. Lorie Huston


Thanksgiving is just around the corner. If you’re planning a Thanksgiving get-together at your home, you’ll want to take the necessary precautions to keep your cat safe during the celebration.


Let’s talk about some of the dangers the holiday can pose to your cat.

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Cut Flowers, Plants, and Bouquets

Bouquets and collections of cut flowers make wonderful centerpieces and decorations for a Thanksgiving celebration. Unfortunately, many of the most beautiful plants and flowers are also quite deadly to cats. Lilies are a prime example. All parts of any of the true lilies are toxic to your cat and can be fatal even in very small doses.


Though lilies are among the most dangerous of plant poisonings for cats, many other plants and flowers are problematic as well. The ASPCA maintains a database of plants that are toxic. If in doubt, either leave the plant/flower out of your design or place the ornament or bouquet out of your cat’s reach.

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Candles, Tart Warmers, and Fireplaces

Curious cats may burn themselves on open flames, such as those found in candles or open fireplaces. Further, these items can also pose a fire hazard should your cat accidentally knock over a candle or pull burning embers out of the fireplace.


Tart warmers can also pose a threat either due to an open flame or to hot liquids, both of which can cause injury for your cat.

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Potpourri contains herbs and oils that may be toxic to your cat if ingested. Keep them out of your cat’s reach.   

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Table Foods

While some cats may do fine with foods from the table, others may be more sensitive and may become ill. In addition, there are some foods that are toxic to your cat. Use caution and make sure your guests know what, if anything, they are allowed to feed your cat as well. Be especially cautious with turkey bones.

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Strings and Other Linear Foreign Bodies

Strings and other similar types of linear foreign bodies (ribbons, thread, etc.) can cause serious problems for your cat. These items can become caught in the intestinal tract, sometimes causing irreparable damage. At Thanksgiving-time, special dangers exist in the form of the strings that are commonly found securing your holiday turkey or ham. These items can be especially tempting to your cat because they retain the odor from the food.

Image: Windell Oskay / Flickr


Your Thanksgiving celebration may find you welcoming a group of people into your home. Your cat may take this opportunity to slip out the door unnoticed, or visitors may not realize that your cat is not allowed outdoors. Inform all of your guests that your cat should remain indoors.


In case of escape, make sure your cat is wearing a cat collar or harness with an identification tag. Microchipping your cat is also a good idea and could mean the difference between your lost cat finding his way home or remaining lost permanently.

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Cats can be easily stressed or become anxious with changes in routine. Thanksgiving and the celebrations that often accompany the holiday are, for many cats, a big change in routine. Because stress can cause disease for your cat, you’ll need to take steps to minimize the stress for your cat.


Make sure your cat has a private area where he can retreat from the celebrations, if desired. For particularly skittish cats, restriction to an area of your home where celebrations are not taking place may be worth consideration. Your cat may be more comfortable and safer away the commotion.

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Proper Planning Will Save the Day

Thanksgiving should be a time to enjoy the company of family and friends. Nothing can ruin the holiday faster than an unplanned visit to the veterinarian because your cat is ill or injured. Fortunately, many of the common illnesses and injuries common to the day are predictable and can be avoided with proper planning.

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