Cat-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods & What to Avoid

Don't let your cat fool you — learn which Thanksgiving foods are safe (in moderation) and grab our Thanksgiving leftover cat treat recipe!

Published October 26, 2023
Cat and houseplants in the kitchen

With Thanksgiving around the corner — and pushy kitties at our sides — the topic of Thanksgiving foods and treats for cats keeps coming up. After all, there are so many leftovers, and they're family. We should share, right? Unfortunately, while a few human foods are safe for cats to eat, it’s important to know that “safe” doesn’t really translate to “healthy” — especially with Thanksgiving.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet should consist mostly of meat. The cat food you feed your buddy is specifically formulated to give them all the nutrients they need. If you really want to give your cat a little Thanksgiving treat, keep their natural diet in mind. Only give your kitty a little of one of these human foods and always consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat anything they aren’t used to.

Cat-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods Infographic

Thanksgiving Foods Cats Can Eat in Moderation

A little goes a long way with these Thanksgiving people foods you can feed your cat. 

Turkey Meat

Turkey meat is a great source of protein and other vitamins and minerals that cats need. It’s usually fine to give your cat a tiny treat of turkey meat, so long as it hasn’t been cooked with seasonings, onion, or garlic, or doused in oil. Offer your cat only a small amount of turkey (less than 1 ounce) to keep them from getting an upset stomach.

Quick Tip

Turkey skin and drippings are way too high in fat and could make your cat sick, so leave them off the menu.


This fall staple is loaded with fiber and other healthy nutrients, which can benefit your cat’s belly. Only feed them plain pumpkin puree that’s free of seasoning or spices. Don’t exceed one to two tablespoons, or your little one could end up with runny stool. 


Cats can safely eat green beans, corn, and potatoes, but it’s crucial to consider their preparation. Avoid feeding cats anything containing onions, oil, butter, seasonings, or salt, as these are unsafe. Keep in mind that cats are usually more discerning eaters compared to dogs, so don’t be shocked if your feline friend chooses turkey over mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving Foods Cats Cannot Eat

Several foods on your Thanksgiving table are potentially dangerous for cats. Keep these dishes out of their reach to ensure their safety.

  • Turkey bones: Cooked poultry bones can splinter and cut your cat’s mouth or cause a blockage in their intestines if swallowed.
  • Ham: Ham is a really salty meat and can have a serious impact on your cat's metabolism and health.
  • Stuffing: This Thanksgiving dish is loaded with seasonings, onion, and butter, which are toxic to cats.
  • Cranberry sauce: The sugar in cranberry sauce can affect blood sugar and cause gastrointestinal upset in cats.
  • Alcohol: Just 1 teaspoon can cause alcohol poisoning in most cats.
Need to Know

If your cat gets into toxic Thanksgiving food, call your veterinarian right away or the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline for the next steps.

Thanksgiving Cat Treat Recipes

Have leftover turkey? Whip up a (small) batch of tasty Thanksgiving treats for your feline friend.

Fast Fact

Keep in mind that treats should make up no more than 10-15% of your cat's overall caloric intake. 


  • ½ cup finely chopped turkey (boiled without seasoning)
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • Water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix in turkey, beaten egg, and pumpkin puree.
  4. Add small amounts of water until you form a soft dough.
  5. Roll the dough on a non-stick surface, then carefully cut it into tiny pieces using a cookie cutter, or score the dough using a knife to create a sheet of treats.
  6. Transfer the treats to a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Transfer the treats to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.

Thanksgiving-Safe Cat Foods

Cats can definitely take part in the holidays, but it’s usually best to keep them out of the Thanksgiving feast. Because of their unique carnivorous diet, they don’t need many carbohydrates, which is what most holiday dishes are loaded with. Your best bet is to give them something designed specifically for cats and let them think you’re eating the same. Your secret’s safe with us.

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Cat-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods & What to Avoid