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Firework season is in full swing and the felines hate it!
I always used to think that fireworks were reserved for bonfire night and the week’s surrounding it but I’ve realised this is not the case. With better access to fireworks, we have found that they went off during Halloween, through to bonfire night and they are still going on now as we settle into December, running up to Christmas. Then, of course, is the New Year’s celebrations!
On one hand, I love fireworks and enjoy the shows, however as a cat owner, I hate them. This is because cats are quite sensitive and prone to anxiety and stress (which will inevitably mean they are going to wee in the house somewhere.) Plus, I have outdoor cats and the fear that they will get injured by a stray firework, used as a target (it happens) or be so scared they run off, get lost or hit by a car are quite a lot. I know I am not alone in this but at the same time, I don’t want to stop others celebrating in their own way!
So for the cat owners or even cat lovers, here are some of the ways to protect the cats during firework season:
1. Research Sunset and Call Them IndoorsWe know that the fireworks aren’t going to start until it gets dark because that’s the best way to enjoy them. So I look up the time of sunset which is usually when those with younger children will start and begin calling my cats inside about 30-60 minutes before. This is to give them enough time to get in and as I have 4 I make sure I do roll call so we aren’t missing any (3 black cats can look the same when sleeping on all my clean washing.) Usually, a food incentive does the trick!2. Stay InStaying at home with them allows you to judge how they are doing and adapt to them, as well as provide much-needed cuddles when they are scared. However, this can be difficult, particularly if you are enjoying the festivities as well so you might instead consider hiring a cat sitter that your cats are used to so that they have someone there to reassure them. Don’t try and introduce someone new because this can cause added stress. 3. Create A Safe Space
Some cats will try to retreat away and find a safe space and then will reappear when it is all over. Create them one by finding an area away from windows and doors, offering boxes, hideyholes or a comfortable bed or blanket to sleep on. Our cats like different things.
Hades prefers to sit on your lap and cuddle the fireworks away.
Zeus will hide in the wardrobe on all the clean clothes on a shelf at the back.
Diablo hides under the dining room table
Pheonix disappears into a crevice somewhere, we once found her in a box under the bed (even though we hadn’t opened the draws, no idea how she got there) That cat is liquid!
4. Avoid PunishmentsIt can be very frustrating to have your cat soil on your favourite clothes, chair or even on the bed, but try to remember that it is a fear response. Your cats aren’t punishing you and it doesn’t mean that usually they aren’t very good, it does mean that you can look into other ways mentioned to calm them down. Shouting or giving out punishments can just make the situation worse and damage the relationship between you and your cat. If your cat is prone to soiling when afraid, put towels or old sheets down in the places they frequent or on top of the bed to minimize the damage. 5. Behave NormallyIt is important for you to remain calm while your cat is in a scared state otherwise this can lead to aggression or other types of behaviour. Be calm, avoid shouting or harsh tones and try to avoid interactions with small children while your cat is scared. You could designate a room for them and have it off limits to your children so that anyone who goes in there knows they should avoid any large gestures or overreacting.6. Buy Natural Calming ProductsThere are several products you can get that contain natural extracts to help calm down your cats. We have used Feliway before and found it works quite well, plus they have a plug-in version or spray which you can use year-round if you have particularly anxious cats. 7. Close The WindowsEven if you have the door or window open ajar this can make a huge difference, particularly with a cat’s sensitive hearing. Many houses nowadays have double glazing which are very good soundproofers which can go a long way to stopping the loud bangs and pops that can be a large part of the issue with cats.
8. Make Sure They Are MicrochippedI am a firm advocate for microchipping your pets and this is an instance where it helps to make sure. If they go missing during the festivities you are more likely to get them back home safe and sound if they are microchipped! For more info check out my “Should You Microchip Your Cat?” post.9. Treat Them To Something SpecialThey’ve just gone through an ordeal so give them a little treat to make them feel better. Whether that is catnip, a special food, a new toy or blanket or even extra cuddle time or privileges like sleeping on the bed.10. Shut The Blinds or CurtainsIt’s not always about the sound but sometimes the sudden bright lights of fireworks are particularly disturbing or frightening for cats. With this in mind, cover the windows or doors by either closing your blinds or curtains.
11. Muffle The NoiseAs well as double glazed windows you may still be able to hear some of the louder sounds coming through and if you live near a local firework display event you could need to do a few extra things. Put the television or radio on to provide a natural sound your cat is used to to make them feel more at ease and muffle the sounds of the fireworks. 12. Seek A Vet's AdviceFor cats that have anxiety or behavioural issues, firework night can be particularly stressful or hurt their health. With this in mind, a trip to the vet’s for a checkup and some tailored advice to suit your specific cat could be in order.
Some Other Things To Consider:
Put a litter tray down – Even if you don’t usually have one it can take the pressure away from your cat, particularly if they are too scared to go outside. Plus, it minimizes any accidents to somewhere easily cleanable!
Strays – If you know you have local strays or feral cats in your area then help them out by opening your shed door as a shelter or placing a temporary bed or box in the bushes in your garden as an escape. This is a fun craft idea that you can make! (it would also suit outdoor cats too if you can’t get them inside.)
Remember the cat flaps – When making your house safe and locking it up to prevent a fearful escapee, don’t forget to lock the catflap otherwise the closed windows and doors are going to mean nothing!
Check for other’s cats – If you are starting a bonfire or fireworks in your garden, do a quick check in the pile or in the bushes so that the unthinkable doesn’t happen when you light it up. You may not have cats of your own but it can avoid devastating effects.