Firework Night: top tips for cat owners
Bonfire Night and firework season is many pet owners’ least favourite time of year. The loud, sudden noises can be very stressful for cats - and no owner likes to see their beloved companion scared or uncomfortable.
Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to make your cat feel much more relaxed during the firework season.
A brief summary...
- Keep your cat company during firework season
- Make sure your cat stays inside at night
- Provide your cat with a comfortable hideout
- Act calm around your cat and try not to smother them
- Use music, TV, treats, toys and enrichment games to distract your cat
- In extreme cases, use a calming product like Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety
- Try using sound therapy to desensitise your cat to loud noise
Is your cat stressed, or scared of fireworks?
Signs of firework phobia include:
- Your cat is visibly startled by the noises
- Running away
- Going to the toilet indoors
- Reduced appetite
- Pacing or circling
- General restlessness or change in demeanour
Humans expect fireworks at this time of year, so they’re not that big of a shock. To cats, however, they’re just sudden, unexpected and very unpleasant!
Your presence at home will help your cat feel a lot safer during this loud season. Think about missing the festivities and staying home with your cat instead. Or if there are several people in your household, why not nominate 1-2 of you to stay behind and keep your cat company?
Fireworks are unpredictable - especially if your neighbours are hosting their own event in the garden. To prevent your cat coming across any dangerous fireworks, keep them indoors during the night.
Make sure your house is fully secured so your cat can’t escape. If they’re frightened, they may try to run away - get their cat flap securely closed, plus all doors and windows. It’s also a good idea to get your cat microchipped - if they do run away, your chances of being reunited with them are much higher if they have a microchip implant. Read our guide to microchipping your cat.
Since your cat is spending their nights indoors for the next few days, make sure they have access to a clean litter box.
Your cat will feel safer if they have somewhere comfy to hide. You could use their carrier, or even an old cardboard box lined with warm blankets.
In general, cats feel safer when they’re high up. They like to be able to assess their surroundings and keep an eye on what’s going on. If you can, store their makeshift hiding place somewhere high, like the top of a bookshelf.
If you’re flustered by the firework noises, your cat will sense it and it’ll add to their fear. If you remain nice and calm, you’ll act as a calming presence for your cat - which is a great help to them.
It’s also important to let your cat come and go as they please. They might visit their hideout, then another hideout (under your bed, for example), then check in on you every now and again. Let them operate in their own way, be there to provide cuddles and reassurance if your cat comes up to you, but avoid picking them up and smothering them as this may make them feel worse.
You can make the fireworks less noticeable by:
- Closing the curtains
- Turning up the TV or radio
- Playing loud music or background noise
It’s also a good idea to take your cat’s mind off the noises outside. To do this, provide food, treats and their favourite toys. Try playing your cat’s favourite enrichment game to keep them busy!
Increased activity indoors will also help make up for the outside exploring your cat has missed during the nights and evenings surrounding Bonfire Night.
Use a calming product
If your cat is exceptionally scared of firework noises, try giving them a calming product. We recommend Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety - it’s designed by vets to help both dogs and cats feel calmer during stressful situations, and reduces unwanted behaviour as little as one hour after being administered.
To get a better idea of the therapeutic products available and which one would be better suited to your cat, have a chat with your local vet.
Better luck next time?
You can desensitise your cat to the sound of fireworks using sound therapy. The process is simple but it can take a few weeks to complete. It works by slowly getting your pet used to certain distressing sounds i.e. fireworks, thunderstorms. Start off by playing the sounds on a really low volume, and increasing the volume day by day - so long as your cat is comfortable.