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Can Cats Have Turkey?

For your little carnivore, Thanksgiving is sure to be an exciting time of year. Your cat will most likely spend the day eyeing the turkey in hopes of sneaking a bite while you’re distracted by guests, or begging your family members for scraps with those Puss in Boots eyes. While holiday meals have some health hazards for cats, you can safely include your four-legged family member by keeping these tips in mind.

Can My Cat Have Turkey Giblets?
The goodie bag that comes with the turkey usually includes the liver, heart, gizzard, neck, and kidneys. Organ meats are packed with protein and antioxidants, and they’re a staple in most raw diets for cats. However, they’re very rich and can cause diarrhea when given in high amounts or when your cat is not used to eating them.
You can give your cat the turkey organs, chopped or whole, raw or cooked, in small amounts as a snack. You can also make a stock or puree to use as a meal topper. As with any novel foods, it’s best to introduce these organ meats gradually. Though they’re safe for cats to eat, a cat with a sensitive stomach may suffer gastric upset if they eat rich organ meats.
As for the turkey neck, it’s unlikely that your cat will be interested in it. Raw meaty bones are an important part of a raw diet, as they provide calcium and phosphorus. If you’d like to cut the turkey neck into cat-sized pieces, you’ll need to slice it along the joints so there are no sharp edges, and supervise your cat while they eat it.
It’s always best to talk to your veterinarian if you’re considering switching to a raw diet, or just want to give your kibble-fed cat a special treat once in a while. Thanksgiving might not be the best time to experiment, but you can always freeze those giblets so your cat can try them another day.

Can Cats Have Turkey?
While turkey is likely a regular part of your cat’s diet in the form of kibble or wet food, Thanksgiving turkey is a bit different. That crispy, golden skin contains a high concentration of fat, especially if you have buttered the bird before roasting.
While dogs are prone to an acute pancreatitis attack after a fatty meal, this does not seem to be as much of a concern for cats at Thanksgiving. Even so, excessively fatty cuts of turkey can still cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.
Thanksgiving turkeys may be brined with a lot of salt or marinated with seasonings that are toxic to cats, such as onions, garlic, or shallots. While seasonings are toxic to cats in high amounts, a small amount of turkey is unlikely to contain a high enough concentration to harm your cat.
Cooked bones are not safe for pets to gnaw. Once cooked, bones become hard and brittle, and break into sharp, splinter-like pieces when chewed.
To be on the safe side, only offer your cat small amounts of white meat with the skin removed, or just forgo giving your cat turkey altogether. Instead, your cat can enjoy a festive meal of turkey wet food.