As you might imagine, cats and fireworks are not the best of friends. That’s why certain times of the year, like New Year’s Eve and the approaching Bonfire Night, can be sources of stress for your cat. In order to give your cat, the best chance of surviving the next few weeks with their nerves intact, then it’s important to consider how best to manage the situation.
Why are Fireworks scary for cats?
It might not be obvious why animals consider loud noises like fireworks to be quite so terrifying. After all, we humans quickly get used to it. Though animals are indeed capable of ‘getting used to it’, they’re unable to do so when the stimulus is so infrequent. Since fireworks generally occur only once or twice a year, it’s difficult for a cat to get used to the bangs and flashes typically associated with Bonfire Night. And, since we’re unable to explain to them exactly why fireworks aren’t such a big problem, we’re unable to prepare them for the experience in the same way we might explain it to a child.
With that in mind, how might we go about protecting our cats from the terror of a fireworks display?
Shield your cat from the fireworks
If you’ve got doors and windows open during a firework display, and your cat is panicking, then they might make a bolt for freedom. If a cat is already agitated, then this will only make the problem worse. Be sure, then, to close all of the doors and windows and physically prevent your cat from leaving.
This strategy will carry the added benefit of shielding your cat against the booming sound of the fireworks. It’s almost always best to close your cat in a single room while the fireworks are going on. Be sure to select a room that’s your cat is comfortable in.
You’ll want to be sure that the room is as well-shielded against noise as possible. Choose a room with double-glazing, and with heavy curtains that can block out the sound (and sight) of explosions in the sky.
Make sure your cat is reassured
A fireworks display will be a scary experience for many cats, and we can help to limit this fear by making sure our cats are reassured. When they’re frightened, many cats will resort to hiding.
This behaviour is natural and shouldn’t be interrupted – just make sure that your cat has a place where they feel comfortable hiding. This might be underneath a bed or some other item of furniture. You might want to provide a den such as a cat basket in their favourite room, with a blanket and toys to ensure that the animal is especially comfortable and feeling reassured.
Provide soothing noise
One good way we might have to limit the impact of a fireworks display is to play some other sound that’ll drown out the noise of the fireworks. While cats probably won’t appreciate Mozart in the same way that we humans will, they’ll appreciate it a great deal more than fireworks. Human conversation might prove a better bet: playing talk radio or putting on the television might be a strategy worth pursuing.
Alternatively, a long-term strategy may be to try and desensitise your cat to the sounds of fireworks using behavioural therapy. It is worth speaking to your vet or an animal behaviourist about strategies that can be used – including specialised CDs of firework noises.
One way to keep your cat calm is using behavioural products, such as pheromone diffusers and sprays. These products, such as Feliway contain a synthetic copy of the pheromone which makes your cat feel safe and reassured. By using the products in the area of the house your cat is most likely to frequent during stressful times such as Bonfire night, can help to provide extra reassurance to your cat and reduce their stress levels.
Watch our video for handy hints and tips to help your pets cope with the firework season here