Holiday treats abound during this festive season, and while you may want to include your cat in the celebration, not all holiday fare is safe for your feline friend. Our Just Cats Clinic team wants to ensure you avoid a holiday-related pet mishap, and we offer this guide for cat-safe holiday treats.

Holiday treats cats should avoid

Any sudden change in your cat’s diet can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) upset, and most cats do better if you maintain a consistent, well-balanced diet for their life stage. Holiday foods that are dangerous for cats include:

  • High-fat foods — High-fat foods, such as turkey skin and buttery mashed potatoes, can cause GI upset and lead to obesity, which increases your feline friend’s risk for numerous serious health problems, including arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, and hypertension.
  • Turkey bones — Turkey bones are fragile and can splinter, potentially injuring your cat’s face, mouth, or GI tract. 
  • Turkey twine — What cat wouldn’t be enticed by a juicy string of turkey twine? However, if ingested, the twine can cause a linear foreign body, requiring surgical removal.
  • Chocolate — Cats typically are not drawn to chocolate, but the caffeine and theobromine in this sweet treat are toxic to felines. The darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity risk.
  • Onions — Onions and similar vegetables, such as garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks, that are often used to season holiday foods can cause red blood cell damage, leading to anemia. 
  • Raisins — Raisins, currants, and grapes are known to cause kidney failure in dogs, and rare cases have also been documented in cats.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol (i.e., a sugar substitute) can cause serious toxicity in dogs. While the ingredient doesn’t seem to cause problems in cats, do not feed your cat xylitol-containing foods. 
  • Cheese — Your feline friend may hanker for a bite of cheddar or Swiss, but many cats are lactose intolerant, so avoid GI upset and keep the cheese out of your cat’s paws.

Cat-friendly holiday plate

If your feline friend insists on a seat at the holiday feast, you can make them a cat-safe holiday plate that includes small portions of these yummy treats:

  • White turkey meat — Poultry-loving felines will love unseasoned, skinless, white turkey meat. 
  • Green beans — Plain, steamed, or unsalted canned green beans are healthy options for your whiskered friend. 
  • Canned pumpkin — Some cats enjoy plain canned pumpkin, but you must ensure you feed plain pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Sweet potatoes — Plain mashed sweet potatoes may also entice your feline friend. 

Cat-friendly homemade treats

While you are slaving away in the kitchen, you may want to make some homemade treats to include your feline friend in the holiday festivities. Recipes to try include:

  • Crunchy tuna and dried catnip cookies — Tuna and catnip are two feline favorites.
    • Ingredients — You need 140 grams drained tuna, 125 grams oat flour, one egg, one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and one tablespoon dried catnip.
    • Preparation — Combine all ingredients until well blended and spread evenly with a rolling pin. Use a bottle cap to cut small biscuits and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Chicken cookies — These treats will be a big hit if your cat enjoys poultry.
    • Ingredients — You need 250 grams cooked and shredded chicken, 120 ml low sodium bone broth, 130 grams wheat flour, 150 grams cornmeal, and one tablespoon olive oil.
    • Preparation — Combine all ingredients until well blended and roll out dough with a rolling pin. Use a bottle cap to cut small cookies and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • Sardine treats — Use sardines for an extra smelly feline treat.
    • Ingredients — You need one can sardines in water, two tablespoons cooked, mashed carrots, and one-third cup cooked oatmeal.
    • Preparation — Combine all ingredients until well blended and serve immediately. 

Cat-friendly food alternative treats

While enticing your cat’s taste buds is a good way to treat them during the holidays, many other pampering options are available for your feline friend. Inedible treat suggestions include:

  • Window perch — Provide a window perch where your cat can watch the birds and squirrels in your yard. Consider placing a bird feeder outside the window to make the show more entertaining.
  • Water fountain — Many cats are mesmerized by running water, and a water fountain can not only entertain but also encourage water consumption.
  • Catnip — If your cat is susceptible to catnip, sprinkle some on their favorite resting area for a sensory treat. Keep the herb in an airtight container for maximum freshness.
  • Laser pointer — Encourage your feline friend with a laser pointer to run and jump as they chase the elusive red dot. 
  • Cuddle time — Curl up on the couch with your feline friend and give extra chin scratches while you watch your favorite holiday movies. They will enjoy relaxing with you during the busy holiday season.
  • Wellness care — The best treat you can give your feline friend is wellness care, which ensures they stay happy, healthy, and by your side for as long as possible.

Contact our Just Cats Clinic team if your feline friend experiences a holiday mishap or to schedule their annual wellness visit.