Keeping a Cat Calm During Fireworks Season

cats anxious of fireworks

It’s that time of year again when the firework season is upon us! Whilst summer is a time for BBQs and Garden Parties, Autumn and Winter celebrations are all about fireworks, bonfires and indoor festivities!

Bonfire Night, Halloween and New Years are just a few of the celebrations we have to look forward to, and most people will celebrate with a bang!

The commotion of parties, fireworks and other festivals can be very stressful for a cat, so we have compiled a few tips on how to make these last few months of the year as stress-free as possible for your feline friend!

Cats have amazing hearing which is almost three times better than a person, so it’s no wonder they can become anxious when the fireworks start going off. Some cool cats won’t even bat an eye when the celebrations start, but if you have a scaredy-cat they may react in the following ways:

  • Body language:  hunkering low, darting movements, hiding away, outdoor cats may stay indoors more.
  • Excessive grooming or shedding (which can lead to fur loss)
  • Lots of yowling or ‘crying’
  • Lower appetite, particularly in pets that are usually good eaters
  • Toileting accidents in a previously reliably house-trained pet
  • Aggressive behaviour: a swishing tail, hissing, spitting or growling

Preparation is Key

It’s not just about planning for your upcoming party, but also preparing your cat for the event. When cats are anxious or afraid they can react in a variety of ways, so it’s up to you to decide how best to reassure them.

Bonfire Night, Diwali, Halloween and New Year’s Eve are the most common times of the year when fireworks are most likely to occur. Make a note of these dates, and the days surrounding them, on your calendar to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.

Familiarise your cat to loud noises

Cats are creatures of habit and usually don’t like it when their daily routine is interrupted – and a big, noisy party or the popping of fireworks is sure to be a disruption! Try and desensitise your cat to unfamiliar noises, like fireworks, by playing audio clips to them. By making these noises seem routine your cat is less likely to be afraid of them when they really happen. Training your cat isn’t going to happen overnight, so give your cat plenty of time before the actual event. Start off by playing firework or party noises at a low volume and slowly increase it over several days. Your cat will soon realise that there isn’t anything to be afraid of and go about its business.

Bonfire Night

In the days surrounding Bonfire Night, the number of missing cats goes up by about a third. It’s because during this time, cats frightened by unusual loud noises are more likely to hide in strange places or get lost.

Bonfires, especially those prepared in advance, are tempting for cats. These tall structures are great for climbing and exploring, and underneath where it’s secluded and sheltered is an attractive spot for a cat to nap.

Smoke from bonfires can also be harmful for your cat. If they get too close it can make breathing difficult and it also reduces visibility and your cat’s sense of smell.

A Quiet Night In

If your cat roams freely outside, the safest thing you can do is lock the cat flap and keep them indoors until the fireworks and bonfire displays are over. The danger of your cat getting spooked and running in front of a car or being injured by a rogue firework is too great a risk!

When it comes to fight or flight, cats are flighty animals. So, it’s best to keep your cat at home where you know it’s safe. The best thing you can do is make sure your cat has access to its preferred little hidey-hole, where it can snuggle up. Cat’s will often choose their favourite cat bed or cat den to hunker down. If your cat chooses to curl up and hide in a different location, don’t try and coax it to its usual spot – your cat is trying to find safety and shouldn’t be disturbed.

keeping cats calm relaxed

Keep Calm and Carry On

Although they may not always show it, cats are very susceptive to their owner’s moods and behaviours. If you’re running about in a mad rush frantically looking for sparklers, putting up last-minute decorations or trying not to burn the evening’s meal, your cat will pick up on it.

Cats are very perceptive and if you behave unusually, even by being more affectionate, your cat will sense something is up. Maintain your cat’s daily routine and do as you usually do – this may help decrease any anxiety your cat may have.

Don’t Make a Fuss

When the first firework goes off and you can see your cat is starting to get anxious, it can be very hard not to coddle them. Excessive stroking and extra attention can actually make your cat even more stressed. It sees your reaction as a justification for its fear, so even though it’s difficult, try to not treat your cat any differently.

Avoid picking your cat up for a cuddle or forcing them to interact with you. Let your cat decide if it wants your attention. 

Distract Your Cat

A new, exciting toy is great way of taking your cat’s mind off things. If your cat is motivated by food, then treat toys or handful of cat treats scattered throughout the house can help them forget about the bangs and booms outside.

Block Out the Noise

With all the commotion going on outside your home should be as peaceful an environment for your cat as possible. Make sure to shut windows and main doors to keep intrusive noises to a minimum. It isn’t only loud sounds that can worry your cat; flashes from fireworks can also be upsetting. Draw your curtains to block out those sudden flashes of light.

You can even try masking the noise of celebrations and fireworks by turning on the television or radio. Play some music or watch your favourite programme to try and muffle the hubbub!

Create a Relaxing Atmosphere

If you want to do even more to help your cat relax, you can also use special calming treatments. Synthetic pheromone treatments, such as Feliway or Felisept use feel-good pheromones to help your cat feel the safe and secure. They mimic a cat’s scent marking to create a state of familiarity and security in the cat's local environment.

These treatments are available in a variety of different forms, with diffusers, sprays, collars and natural calming supplements, like Zylkene so you can choose the one that best suits you, your home and your cat.

Don’t Leave your Cat Alone

Even if you know your cat is going to spend the entire evening hiding from you, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone. Cats look to their owners for comfort, and even though your cat isn’t spending time with you, it knows that you’re still at home and will feel safer for it.

Consult your Vet

If nothing seems to work and your cat seems to be constantly anxious or skittish, then let your vet know. They may be able to recommend cat food that can help your cat feel more at ease. There may also be an underlying health condition which is causing them to act this way.

When your cat is stressed, scared or anxious remember to be patient. Cats take a long time to calm down, so be a source of comfort to it, as it is to you! Keep in mind that cats can be very independent, so it’s only when they feel safe that they will come out of hiding – Just remember to be there with lots of brushes, strokes and loves when they do!

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