Thanksgiving is nearly here, with all the fun and frustration that entails: delicious food! Family feuds! Online sales! Repeated cries at your cat of “not the turkey!” and “get down from there!” Oh, your cats are better behaved than mine? That’s cool.
(To be honest, it’s only Daenerys that does this, and she singlemindedly goes for the rolls. There’s a reason she’s named after the Queen Who Takes What Is Hers. Also, I’ve never met a cat more obsessed with bread than her.)
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So, you have a house full of cats – or just ruled over by one. You also want to create a charming table centerpiece for your Thanksgiving gathering. Can these two realities coexist? Can you be trendy and elegant without risking your cats or your centerpiece?
YES. And we’re here to tell you how.
If you’ve been hanging out on Pinterest, you’ve seen the centerpiece trends. Gourds and plants are popular, as are candles and poky pieces like branches. There’s also a heavy rustic influence, with tablescapes incorporating tree cross-sections (complete with bark!) and decorations made from leaves (spray painted leaves!).
Clearly, there’s a ton of elements there to concern any pet owner. Don’t worry! We’re going to give you a few guiding points to get you through this, all focused around a few inspirational Pins.
RUSTIC, PLANT-IFUL CHARM
This type of tablescape makes a bold autumnal statement, while still allowing you to talk to your family across the table. It’s warm and organic and captures the plenty of Thanksgiving – and it’s not very cat friendly. There’s way too much plant material for your cat to chew on, and the evergreen and berries featured are probably toxic to your pets.
Don’t despair! Just get creative, and play it smart: the first step in doing that is to be familiar with what plants (and flowers!) are poisonous to your pets. The ASPCA has an excellent resource for this, so get to clicking: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. You can filter that list by pet type, and also use the non-toxic list to brainstorm some safe flora to feature on your table. And remember: this also applies to any HERBS you may wish to use as table accents.
If that’s too much trouble? Take a trip to the craft store and get some artificial greenery, berries, and more.
GOURDS UNDER GLASS
The good news is that most gourds or vegetables you may use in tablescape decoration are not inherently poisonous to your cats. (Though, as always, you should check yourself before you wreck your… cat. Vets Now has a good summary of human foods bad for cats.) The double good news is that there’s a brilliant hack for using cat-unfriendly items in your decoration – just put a cloche on it! Besides opening up a whole vista of holiday-appropriate dioramas, this is an elegant display method at home in any centerpiece.
No glass cover? Not a dealbreaker, although you still don’t want your cat gnawing on decorative gourds. It’s not good for your tablescape, even if it doesn’t bother your cat. Some gourds are preserved with a thin layer of wax as well. To discourage your cats interacting with these decorations, consider using citrus oils – a refreshing scent for humans is an “OMGWTFNO” signal for cats. (You can also use this on artificial greenery to keep your cats away from them too.)
This tablescape lets candles do the heavy lifting, providing an elegant stage for the most important message – “give thanks” – and drawing your family together with intimate candlelight. The flowers in the center provide a focal point, and you’ll want to make sure you follow our directions for flowers above – select nontoxic plants, or go artificial. But what about candles and your cats?
I have only one piece of advice for you. It’s the same piece of advice anyone gives everyone about fire, and it’s common sense at its most basic. Ready?
Don’t leave burning candles unattended.
That’s it. Unlit candles waiting in your tablescape are no big deal. Once they’re lit, there better be people in the room right now, and you’ll easily be able to keep your cats out of the danger zone.
Sometimes, you just don’t have a lot of time to prepare. You want to pick up a couple gourds at the grocery, grab some likely greenery, and throw it all together with a tea light and fresh fruit. You won’t even be able to decorate your table until Thanksgiving day, because you’ve got way too much to do. And there’s your method for protecting your cats, even if you use potentially toxic decorations.
Putting your table decorations out last minute means people will be gathered in that room, and present to keep your cats off the table and away from the centerpiece. If that’s not the case, and you’re worried about their exposure, you fall back on the golden rule: when in doubt, keep them out. Shut the dining area off from feline access, or temporarily limit your cats to whatever space in your place CAN be cordoned off. (Make sure your feline friends are party-ready with our guide.)
With these Pins to get you started, along with our tips, you should be well-prepared to tackle the safety aspects of your favorite Thanksgiving tablescape inspirations. You’ll soon have a safe, smart, and beautiful centerpiece to enchant your guests and protect your cats. That’s a win-win, and a great start to any holiday.