5 Ways to keep your cat calm during Fireworks season
Because we all love cats, we all understand the fear that cats have when they hear a loud sound such as fireworks. Their hearing is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human. Imagine this, a loud bang goes off, you get such a fright you jump. What would this sound like to cats? This sound is ten times louder, more frightening to them than it is to us. Here are ways that you can minimise this stressful time for your kitties.
If you have a cat that roams outdoors, ensure that on the days you are aware there will be fireworks, such as Diwali, Guy Fawks day, New Year’s eve (to name just a few) make sure you close your cat in on these days. You don’t want to have your kitty roaming outside when the big bang starts. The risk here is that your cat will try to escape what he fears is something threatening, he will crawl into a hole or into a tight space and get stuck, he will jump up a tree, too high to get back down, or just run until he is too far to find his way back home. There are so many cats that get picked up by the Animal Shelters during this time that sadly don’t all get claimed. It is your responsibility to make sure your cat is safely indoors well before the fireworks begin.
So you have your cat safely indoors, but you know your cat. Like me, particularly with Travis who hates thunder, let alone fireworks, when he is scared he looks for me. He will jump up and try to crawl into any space behind me, behind my harms, anywhere where he can hide, but as long as he is with or close to me. Because I know that he is like this, I make sure I am home on the days that there will be fireworks. If I cannot be home, I make sure he has something that at least smells like me (a blanket or shirt for example) and I make him a little spot where I know he hides when I am not around, so that he can smell me as well. This brings me to my next point.
As mentioned above, if I cannot be home with my boys when there will be fireworks, I always make a spot for each of them. Each cat has their own place. I generally set it up in the spots they like to lay most of the time. I will set up this spot with blankets, their favourite toys and even a bit of catnip. Even if they don’t use it, at least they have the option. Trust me, they probably will use it and feel better with the added effort from you. In turn, you too will feel better knowing they have this space where all their favourite things are placed, and they feel secure.
When you have set up a cosy little corner for your kitty the next step is to try to minimise the sounds that will be frightening from the outside. By closing your windows and curtains / blinds, putting on a radio or TV, immediately the sound will be minimised. By creating a sound barrier your cat won’t be sure what he is hearing when the fireworks start. This is the best time to cuddle up on the couch, put on a good movie and enjoy the night in with your kitty. He too will not even realise what is going on around him, other than “my human is here, I’m happy!”.
I have learned from experience that the best way to get your frightened kitty to forget about what is frightening him is to distract him from the situation. We all know that cats love food, so what better way than to keep treats on hand during the dreaded firework display? Simple things like a handful of pellets or even some catnip will make your cat forget why he was scared to begin with. Another great way is to distract him with toys. You might as well combine the two, make it into a game! Put the food and catnip into box, cut out some holes and watch your cat go mad. He will be so distracted trying to fish out the food and catnip that he won’t even realise there was anything to be scared of.
We all hate fireworks, but unfortunately we cannot stop them. They are a part of life but as the human in your cat’s life it is your responsibility to make sure that when the fireworks are due, you are aware of the dates, and you are ready to tackle them head on. If you put in the effort with the above steps, coupled with some calm meds (chat to your vet about which are best), your cat will be one content kitty! For me, the most important thing is that your cat experiences as little stress as possible during this time. After all, he doesn’t understand that it is not going to hurt him, but we can show him that it won’t, as long as we are in control! Take control and beat the firework fear in your home!