Check out the list of cat toxic foods below. These foods often are part of side dishes or appetizers we serve during the holidays. For example, most stuffings include onion or garlic. The gravy contains too much fat, probably butter, and possibly more onions or mushrooms. Grapes, raisins, and guacamole are often part of holiday snacks. Many people leave alcoholic drinks sitting around at parties, including things like Bailey’s, White Russians — or spiked eggnog! And it seems there’s always something chocolate. Plus, weight-conscious hosts may offer items using the artificial sweetener xylitol. This is another good reason to consider keeping the cats in their own room, with their own holiday meal. (See below for ideas.)

And, please, keep your cats from the dairy products including butter, yogurt, sour cream, and cheese. While cats will drink milk and eat dairy products, most adult cats are actually lactose intolerant. Dairy won’t usually kill our cats, but it often leads to upset stomachs, vomiting, or diarrhea. None of which is pleasant — especially during the holidays.

I’m fortunate that none of my current rescue cats eat people food. (Okay, yes, since they were abandoned behind a McDonald’s they do get excited by fast food bags.) For abandoned, rescue cats mine are extremely picky eaters. But many of my past cats were real dumpster divers and trash trawlers. So I’ve been trained to check everything.

Cat Toxic Holiday Foods:

  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy (*not actually toxic but often upset digestive systems because adult cats are usually lactose intolerant)
  • Fatty foods (*another food on the avoid but not actually poisonous list)
  • Grapes
  • Mushrooms (*again, not toxic but some parts can cause digestive issues)
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol artificial sweetener (often found in sugar-free and low-cal foods)

So stuffing and gravy are out. So is the guacamole, the cheese plate, and charcuterie or antipasto plate. No on the mashed potatoes with butter and cream. No to the over fatty and rich sweet potatoes. The green bean casserole? Assuming your cat would even touch it, no. And forget a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

And by all means, never feed your cat popcorn! If you are stringing the stuff for decorations, keep an eye on the bowl. Aside from chamomile, our slightly-neurotic rescue cat, Belladonna, loved popcorn. We thought it was cute having her sit with us on the couch watching a movie and eating popcorn — until she became seriously constipated. I tried some home remedies including pumpkin (see below) and tuna oil. It didn’t work. She ended up getting a kitty enema at the vet and we got an earnest lecture on why cats should not have popcorn. Trust me, I don’t embarrass easily but having to get a kitty enema left me beet red.

Is there anything our cats eat to join us in the holiday feast?

An illustration of turkey, corn and pumpkins in front of a farm house representing safe, non-toxic holiday foods for cats.
The turkey and the corn are both safe holiday foods for our cats but there are many more treats we can safely prepare.

A Cat-Friendly Holiday Feast

Cooking a holiday meal for your cat is easier than cooking one for your family. Seriously. For one thing, most of what you will serve will have a single ingredient.

First, you never have to worry that your cat will complain that your turkey is too dry. Cats love cooked turkey and it’s good for them, especially the dark meat and the organ meats. Oh, my gosh, you mean there’s some use besides giblet stuffing or gravy for that bag you may have forgotten inside the turkey one year? Yes. Even if you don’t want to make giblet gravy or stuffing, cook it up for your cats. Just like you, they will enjoy several days of leftovers. So feel free to cut up a plate of the bits of turkey most folks don’t want.

Don’t Forget the Vegetables!

Save a bit of potato before you add the butter, cream and other seasonings for your cat. Many cats love lapping up some mashed up potato. And you only need to separate a tablespoon or two for your cat before you finish the rest. No one will miss it.

And you can do the same with sweet potatoes or yams. Many cats love sweet potatoes and yams. (They are actually the same food genetically but just different varieties with different names.) Sweet potatoes have lots of fiber so they help with digestion. But go easy. You know what happens when you suddenly have too much fiber…

Potatoes with no gravy? Sacrilege. You may have appropriate canned gravy in your cupboards. No, not that can (or jar) but the canned cat food that comes with gravy. Dribble some of the gravy over your turkey and potatoes. Or take some chicken or turkey stock and cook it down, thickening with a little corn starch if you wish. Just leave out the salt, pepper, butter, and other bits.

Cats Should Skip the Pumpkin Pie — But Not the Pumpkin

Pumpkin, without all the spices, eggs, cream, sugar, and other pie ingredients is terrific for cats. Again, just keep it to small doses because the fiber can act as a laxative. Conversely, it is often used to help with diarrhea. It seems to balance the digestive system and is loaded with vitamins and low-fat carbohydrates as well. Even big cats like pumpkin!

If you aren’t cooking your pumpkin from scratch (or even cooking your own pie), simply get a small can of pureed pumpkin and spoon out a couple of spoonsful to add to your kitty’s plate. The leftover pumpkin puree can be used to make delicious pumpkin soup, souffle, stew or even pumpkin bread for the humans who need a break from leftover turkey dinner.

Voila! A holiday feast fit for out kitty overlords. Let the festivities begin!

Give Your Cat a Holiday Treat!

If you want to add some enrichment activity to the feast, try making Kitty Stuffed Potato. Boil a small baby potato (without salt or other seasonings), dig out a portion in the middle and stuff the hole with some turkey or your cat’s favorite treat, and offer it to the cat (preferably not on the carpet). (Sure, Big Cat Rescue uses raw potatoes but their cats are considerably bigger and we don’t want our cats chipping teeth.)

Be sure to check out the entire video for a heartwarming story and some fun with pumpkins, potatoes, Christmas trees, and other kitty life enrichment ideas starting at 1:21.

Be sure to share what you do for your cat during the holidays in the comments.

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