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10 Usual Suspects at Thanksgiving & How to Save Your Pet From Them

Because you really need to stop Aunt Beth from trying to give your cat wine.

by Sean Zucker
November 19, 2021
thanksgiving person hugging cat and dog

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Thanksgiving. A time for gratitude, personal reflection, and binge eating. While it sounds great in theory, the event is only as enjoyable as those you share it with. And more often than not, that involves a collection of characters you wouldn’t choose to regularly share a meal with. But before you start planning/daydreaming about the gallons of wine it’ll take to get through the evening, recognize that you are not the only one suffering. As much as you may loathe coming face to face with the various personalities that inevitably derail turkey day — it’s worse for your pet. For them, Thanksgiving is scarier than fireworks, the vacuum cleaner, and nail clippers combined. So just as our pets save us from loneliness, boredom, and a life without meaning, we too must protect them from our irritating friends and family, if only for one day.

The Drunk Aunt

You might be mildly annoyed by her way-too-loud-for-three-thirty-in-the-afternoon energy, but no one will seem to notice your sauced aunt is smushing your pets face. There are a couple of strategies to attempt here. First and least likely for success: bring your aunt some water and try to sober her up. When this inevitably fails, distract her with something else like a fidget spinner or crayons. 

The Clingy Uncle 

When your uncle who never had children (nothing wrong with that, of course) projects that unfulfilled paternal yearning onto their brother-in-law’s cat, it’s less charming. So if you’re dreading your uncle forcing you to watch another video of his favorite German flute player on Facebook, understand that your pup is at dire risk of being kidnapped and paraded around town in a stroller. Best to come prepared with a GPS collar, just in case. 

The Cuddly Child

Conversely, the actual child at this party isn’t exactly the adorable ally you’d expect. Everyone thinks it’s so cute when the kid who can barely walk hugs the cat or dog, but they haven’t learned about suffocation yet — or how easily you can cause it. Babies are stronger than they look, so as you and your family are taking 800 pics of the “heartwarming” experience, know that your most dedicated friend is elbows deep in a Ronda Rousey-inspired arm bar. Simple fix — sub yourself in and take some pics with the kid. You’ll be freeing your pet’s poor lungs, while also creating some solid social media clout building content because, again, people love babies.

The Superstitious Gambler 

The yearly NFL slate of action is one of the few redeeming qualities of Thanksgiving. But as with everything associated with the holiday season, some people take it too far. They’re so deep in so many parlays, it’s not clear if it’s even mathematically possible for them to make a profit on the day. And yet the series of games are full of apparent life-changing triumphs and retirement-draining losses — both of which are being accredited to your pet. So as they anxiously watch the Cowboys teeter around covering the spread, your poor dog’s being used as a proverbial rabbit’s foot. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to use this dude’s superstitions against him. Just make a comment about how the last time his team scored, no other living thing was near him, inspiring him to quarantine himself in the garage until dinner. 

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The In-Law Who’s Allergic to Animals

Imagine the pain of tip-toeing around the house with the burden of someone else’s well-being tied to your own existence. Exiled in your own home, afraid to show your face for fear of making someone sneeze a little bit. That’s no way to live. However, subtly planting bottles of Benadryl around the house — that’s forgivable. 

The All-the-Feels Freshman

They just came home from their first semester at college and are a smorgasbord of adolescent emotions. But no one else understands — no one, except your not-so-bald little Dr. Phil. So as you sit and meditate on all the places you’d rather be during “Grace,” this freshman is hiding in the bathroom crying all over your cat over their casual-fling-gone-wrong Instagram history. Even if they qualify as an emotional support animal, they’re not a therapist. Though, there is one emotion every college student shares, and that is the desire to black out. Quickly redirect them towards your drunk aunt and those two will occupy themselves with a fidget spinner rave for hours.

The Cousin Who Chews with Their Mouth Open 

Did you know that a dog’s sense of hearing is about four times stronger than ours? Given that, if you’re being bothered by someone chewing with their mouth open at the table, consider how it would feel to listen to all those chomps and slurps through two Dolby Surround Sound speakers duct-taped to each side of your head. This is a challenging problem to confront. The only option is seating them as far away from your pet’s domain as possible. And, for the love of god, keep them away from the sweet-potato casserole.

The Late Arrival 

Showing up late equals staying late, which adds up to increased tension for your pet. It’s their least favorite math equation that nearly guarantees prolonging that moment of zen when the last guest walks out the door. As someone who comes from a long line of leisurely Irish folks, I can tell you with confidence that the best course of action here is lying. Tell those prone to tardiness that the party starts two hours early — this way they’ll only be a few minutes late. 

The Early Arrival 

Alternatively, Aunt Carol showing up two hours early while you’re still in a bathrobe can only result in one of two things: Too many cooks in the kitchen (but you’re too savvy to let that happen. Or, your pet stepping up and entertaining as you scramble to finish prepping. It’s going to be the latter, so thank them in advance for taking one for the team. For this, simply flip the strategy above and tell them that dinner is a couple of hours later than it is.

The Mooch

There is but one saving grace in these large holiday events for your pet: unattended or disregarded leftovers. Just as your mother would tell you that tossing perfectly edible food away is disrespectful to those starving across the world, securing all the table’s leftovers is disrespectful towards those suffering across the room all day long. Luckily, there’s a simple solution — save some pet-safe goodies (turkey meat (no cooked bones), sweet potato, green beans) for your pet. Show them their pain was not in vain.

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Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker is an editor at The Wildest whose work has also been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He recently adopted a Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and behavioral issues rival his own.