Cats and Fireworks
Halloween, Bonfire Night (that now rolls into Bonfire Week) and even New Years Eve – there’s something special about watching fireworks with loved ones, all wrapped up in the cold. Our kitty’s, however, do not appreciate fireworks this year nor any previous years! With super-sensitive hearing and connecting loud noise with danger, there’s no surprise they can become irked. So listen to their behaviour, needs and get prepared with our tips below for when things go bump in the night…
In the run-up to firework season…
Do this well in advance as some products need to be in use ahead of the ‘event’, while others can be deployed ‘on the night’. Luckily there is a wide range of non-prescription cat calming and anti-stress products. Select the ones you want to try well ahead of time and test them. This test is both to see if they have the desired effect and so that you’re sure how to use it!
A more holistic method to prevent your cat from becoming stressed around firework season is to play a video or audio of fireworks. Playing this a few weeks before will get them used to louder sounds and allow them to prepare for the real event. Start playing at a low volume, gauge their reaction, and gradually increase to a similar level that they will experience on the night.
There are pheromone-based products (Feliway) which emit calming smell signals to make cats feel safe and protected and come in the plug-in, spray, tablet and collar formats. Milk protein-based products (Zylkene) which are added to food, or come in a chewy treat form, are intended to foster the sense of protection felt while feeding from mum as a kitten. A natural range (Pet Remedy) comes in an array of products which are all suitable to all animals – so ideal for multi-pet households. There is a range of other tablets, gels and liquids, none of which are sedatives, but all just aim to take the edge off any stress.
So have a proper think about what your cat will use or take to. If they don’t do tablets, then consider drops you can add to their food or a pheromone collar or diffuser? Be sure to read the instructions carefully, as to the doses, frequency and start dates.
While you aren’t legally obligated to have your cat microchipped (as is now the case for dogs) it is wise to pop down the vets and get it done so if they do decide to go AWOL, you’ll have more chance of being reunited. Already have them microchipped? Double-check that all contact details are up to date.
Feliway Diffuser for cats acts as a synthetic copy of feline facial pheromone, relaxing cats in stressful situations.£29.32 £17.50
As it gets dark
- Keep cats inside, lock cat flaps, doors and windows. Make sure they have access to a litter tray.
- Switch on the TV, radio or put a play list on your smart speaker. This background noise may help to muffle the sound of fireworks, but don’t go crazy on the volume, especially if you’re normally a quiet house.
- Close the curtains to mask flashes and sparkles.
- Build your cat a ‘den’ or hidey-hole. You know where they are likely to head when they get spooked, so make sure that this space is accessible and maybe throw an old item of clothing in there for them – to reassure them you’re close.
- They’ll drink more when stressed, so top up their water bowl fully at bedtime.
Stress and behaviour
If they want to pace, let them. The same for yowling. It will be annoying but let them do what they need and don’t chase them around fussing.
Try to keep a calm face on. If your cat is worried the last thing they need to see is a worried owner. This can easily become a negative feedback loop, where you make each other increasingly edgy.
Give lots of praise for good, calm behaviour. Don’t shout if they urinate inside or try to coax them out of their safe space as this will exasperate the issue. If they are in their den or behind the sofa, just leave them be.
This article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.
If in doubt contact your veterinary practice
And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!