How to prepare for fireworks season
October 14, 2021
In a survey conducted by the PDSA, 40% of pet owners said their pets feared fireworks. Fireworks are no longer limited to the weekends around Bonfire Night (November 5th) and can cause distress on and off throughout the year.
Our head vet Patrick has some seasonal advice for cat owners in Cambridgeshire on how to help their pets cope with the risks posed by loud and sudden noises.
The problem with sudden noises, like fireworks, is that they put your cat into ‘fight or flight’ mode. More often than not this means they bolt off, increasing their chances of getting lost or injured. These behaviours are more prevalent at times of the year when sudden noises are everywhere, but they can actually be triggered at any time.
Use the tick list below and follow our advice to maximise the chances of your cat surviving a sudden noise scare in one piece.
- Encourage earlier meal times. We recommend introducing earlier mealtimes for your cat around the middle to end of October as it starts to get dark earlier. This should get them into the routine of coming back into the house before it’s dark and the noises start.
- Keep your cat indoors when it’s dark & noisy. When you know it’s going to be noisy, keeping your cat indoors at night reduces the risk of them getting injured if they bolt. Restrictions like this can be stressful for cats so you should let them back out to roam when it’s safe.
- Do not try to coax your cat out of hiding. If your cat has been spooked by the noise and is hiding, leave them where they are. Trying to scoop them out of hiding to reassure them may be counterproductive; it’s usually better to let cats ‘sit it out’ where they feel safe.
- Give them a treat. A stuffed chew-toy or a puzzle-ball can keep cats occupied for hours. Any novel stimulation can help take their mind off noise, which can significantly reduce stress.
- Tag and microchip. Ensuring your cat is both microchipped and wears an identity tag, makes it much easier for you to be reunited if the noise has caused them to run to un-familiar surroundings.
- Create a safe space. A natural reaction when any animal is scared is for them to retreat to their ‘den’. You should provide a safe, comfortable, and quiet space for every pet – including cats. This does not have to be fancy or expensive. A blanket covered tunnel behind the sofa, a cardboard box with a small entrance cut into the side, a fleecy blanket under the bed or on top of the fridge for those cats that feel safest up high would all suffice.
Pheromone diffusers can also be used to help calm stressed cats. Pheromones are natural chemicals produced by animals to aid communication and promote feelings of wellbeing and security. Diffusers contain a synthetic version of these chemicals and can help your cat to feel relaxed and calm at times of heightened stress. Diffusers can take a couple of weeks to take effect (they need to be plugged in and left on continually) so it’s important to start using them in advance of known noisy periods, or as soon as you notice your cat becoming anxious.
For cats that are extremely anxious, there are calming supplements that can be beneficial. Ask us for advice if you think this may be helpful.
Some cats may even benefit from some medication for short periods. Again, this is something we are more than happy to discuss with you.