Cat on dinner table
Hosting Thanksgiving this year? As you plan your menu and prepare your house, keep in mind that having a cat means you need to do a little extra prep work in order to keep your feline and your friends and family happy and comfortable.

Help your kitty be on her best behavior on Thanksgiving Day with these simple etiquette tips.

Give Thanks for Feline Good Manners

Get your cat’s coat under control. You’re probably used to cat hair on your clothes, but your guests may not be. A thorough brushing can help remove hair that’s waiting to be shed — which means less fur flying around when guests arrive. And just in case, keep a lint brush or hair roller on hand in case guests wind up with kitten fuzz on their fancy clothes. Leave it on the counter in the bathroom so guests can easily locate it. If possible, hang coats so that your cat doesn’t lounge on them. If you have to pile them on a bed, keep the door to the room closed.

Create a cat-free party zone. Carefully clean the areas of your house where your guests will be hanging out. If possible, keep your cat out of the kitchen and dining room, or any space where food is being prepared and served. Guests don’t need to worry that your kitty is walking on the counters or tasting the gravy. And even if kitty doesn’t have her elbows on the table while you are eating, some guests may be bothered if you are feeding her directly from the table. If you just can’t help but sneak her a cat-friendly treat from the Thanksgiving meal, do so in her own cat-specific eating area.

Establish guidelines for your guests. It will be easier for your cat to be on her best behavior if your guests are also on theirs. If your best friend is bringing her toddler, talk with her ahead of time and establish ground rules for interactions before your cat and her child first meet. And be sure guests know about any quirks your cat has, like not wanting to be petted or held. Always appropriately supervise interactions between your friends’ kids and your cat, and make sure your cat has access to getaway spaces where she can safely retreat for a break.

Help your cat be social. Cats inevitably have a knack for finding — and befriending — the least cat-tolerant individual in the room. This may be because people who don’t like cats tend to exhibit the least threatening body language (not making direct eye contact, for example). Protect your cat-averse guests by using treats and toys to redirect your cat. Or create a cozy cat-safe space in another room and stock it with all your cat’s favorite things: food, water, litter box, bed, climbers and toys.

Make guest rooms off-limits. For overnight guests, consider keeping bedroom doors closed to prevent your cat from lounging in your guest’s bed or rooting in her suitcase — and potentially ingesting something off-limits and dangerous. And unless your guest specifically mentions that she is OK with your kitty sleeping with her, direct your cat to an alternative resting space at night.

Maintain your cat’s routine. Cats are creatures of habit, and throwing off their routines can be disruptive and stressful for you and your guests. Ideally, feed your cat when and where she’s used to being fed. If your Thanksgiving Day plans mean she will need to eat in a different space (in her cat-safe room instead of in the kitchen, for example), make this change ahead of time and give her a few days to adjust to it.

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