Firework season is one of those times of year which can be pretty terrifying for our cats. As sassy and independent as they would have us believe they are, there are few things that can get their eyes as wide or their shackles raised like fireworks and loud noises can. And as we all know, fireworks don’t just go off on 5th November! It extends right up until New Year, where as well as fireworks, our pusses have other challenges to deal with. For example, parties at home, leaving your cat thinking: “Who are all these people in MY abode?”.
We spoke to Dr Paul Manktelow, well-known TV vet and Itch advisory panellist, and asked him to reveal the secret to keeping our feline friends chilled and happy. Paul says:
“Cats are creatures of habit and they love a routine and environment that is consistent, predictable and familiar. Tick all the boxes and they will be super chilled and purring for days! But cats are one of nature’s keenest risk assessors, which means they are constantly on high alert for any new encounter or potential threat. If something in their world isn’t quite right, they can go from cool to cranky very quickly.
“With the upcoming season inviting new smells, sights and sounds into our homes this can throw us and our cats off balance. It’s good to learn how to recognise the subtle signs of stress in your cat and more importantly how to restore the calm.”
How to tell if your cat scared of fireworks
Though dogs may show clear signs of distress, it can be trickier to tell when your cat’s scared. If you notice any changes in their behaviour it could be a sign that they’re unhappy and afraid of the loud noises.
Here are some tell-tail signs your cat might be scared of fireworks:
- Hiding or withdrawing
- Dilated pupils
- Hissing or low grumbling
- Eating or drinking less than usual
- Arching their backs
- Pinning their ears back
- Moving slowly
- Pacing, circling or restlessness
- Excessive grooming
- Urine marking
How to help your cat if they’re scared of fireworks
Here are our tips to help your kitty feel safe, happy and relaxed – your cat will ap-purr-eciate it:
Keep them indoors after dark
If you have an outdoor cat, bring them inside while it’s still light during firework season. This way, you can feel confident they won’t be roaming about outside if things start to kick off. Even if they’re yowling like a good ‘un, trust us when we say they’ll thank you in the long run for keeping them in.
Plan for escapes
It’s a fact: cats are basically hairy little Houdinis. They can wriggle out of the smallest nooks and crannies so make sure all doors, cat flaps, and windows are impenetrable! Also block up any tight spaces that lead behind walls or into basements – if a cat gets spooked they could end up hiding in a spot that’s hard to get them out of.
Make sure you’ll be able to keep your cat behind a closed door at times when someone needs to come into or out of your home
If your kitty isn’t already microchipped make sure they are before the start of firework season! New legislation is being introduced which will make cat microchipping compulsory, so you might as well get it done now. Double-check that all of your contact information is up to date, including the info on their collar’s ID tag.
Make sure they have a safe space to hide
Cats usually have a favourite hiding place where they feel safe, like on the top of a wardrobe or under your bed. Make that space as welcoming as possible for them by adding some blankets and toys.
It’s also a fact that most cats enjoy the dark embrace of a cardboard box, so you could pop one of those next to your cat’s chosen hiding space and dot a couple of others around your house. Throw a blanket over them and line the inside with anything comfy or fleecy to make them feel right at home.
Don’t shut your moggy in a confined space as they might panic and hurt themselves trying to escape – give them access to all of the safe areas of your home.
Consider calming supplements and pheromone diffusers
Calming supplements increase feel-good hormones which will help to reduce your kitty’s anxiety. They take a few weeks to kick in so stock up on some in advance of firework season (or any other event which may cause your puss stress). Itch Health Calm Capsules come in a sprinkle capsule format for stress-free administration – simply sprinkle over your cat’s food and let them chow down.
These capsules have a whole heap of well-being benefits for your cat that will work wonders during stressful events. Ingredients include:
- Valerian Root Extract – traditionally used to ease anxiety
- L-Theanine – an essential amino acid found in tea leaves, used to promote a sense of calm
- Ashwagandha – a source of withanolides to help reduce stress
It’s also a great idea to start using a pheromone diffuser in the room where your cat likes to hang out most. They release natural chemicals that have a dreamy, calming effect on stressed out pussycats and have been proven to help reduce anxiety caused by fireworks.
Create background noise in the home
Drown out the sound of exploding gunpowder by sticking on the telly and turning it up a notch or two. If your cat prefers the radio, go for it!
Dampen down noise outside the home
Once it’s dark, close all the windows and curtains. This will help to drown out the scary sights and sounds, creating a more pleasant environment for your kitty.
Act normal around your cat
They’ll think something’s up if you start acting more affectionate towards them or follow them around more than usual so just act normally. If your furry mate sees that you’re unbothered by fireworks they’ll feel more reassured that nothing bad is going to happen to them.
Speak to them in a calm, upbeat voice, and let them do their thing. Don’t force them to interact with you or try to pick them up because this might stress them out, but if they come to you for a snuggle, snuggle away!
Let them hide if they want to hide
If your cat does hide – don’t try and tempt them out. You might think you are providing reassurance, but in fact you could be stressing them out even more. Just leave them to it.
Stock up on cat treats
We all need a bit of TLC when we’re stressed out, and pussies are no different! Buy yours a new toy, make that fish dish they like, or even give them a few calming treats. Itch Calming Treats are vet-approved and formulated with Lavender and Camomile. Not only that, they contain added prebiotics to keep their tum happy too.
In short, spoil your furry friend rotten!
What you can do to make fireworks less frightening for all animals
As well as helping your kitty around firework season, there are lots of ways that you can easily help other animals at this time of year…
Only go to organised events
Although organised events are less popular this year, there may still be some COVID-secure events happening near you.
If you can’t attend an event, try to avoid setting off your own fireworks if you live in a busy residential area. More houses mean more pets – and the closer proximity to all the loud noises could be even more unsettling for animals than normal.
Help owners prepare their pets by only letting off fireworks on the traditional dates
Diwali, Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year are the dates when owners know to expect fireworks. By sticking to these dates, you’re giving owners time to prepare their animals and help them cope.
Buy low-noise fireworks
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you ARE hosting a display, try and use fireworks which create less noise.
NEVER set off fireworks near livestock
Frightened animals – especially large ones like horses or cows, can accidentally hurt themselves when startled
Always check bonfires for wildlife before lighting
Unlit bonfires are the perfect cosy habitat for wildlife such as hedgehogs, voles or mice to curl up and hibernate. Give it a check for animals before lighting.
Take your rubbish home with you, and dispose of it properly
Make sure to collect any firework litter after it has cooled down, and dispose of it properly. Firework litter can harm animals if ingested.
We’re here to help
If you have any questions at all, our Customer Service team of pet wellness warriors are here to help! Many of us are cat parents ourselves, so if you need a listening ear and any further advice, we’ll be more than happy to help. We’re available 7 days a week between 8am and 10pm, and you can reach out to us in the following ways:
- Call 020 3370 0905
- Email email@example.com
- WhatsApp +44(0)7425 347173
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