We pet parents might look forward to the Fourth of July, with the backyard BBQs and fireworks displays that come with this time of year—but our cats are likely dreading it.
“Kitties can absolutely be afraid of fireworks—they just show it a little differently,” says Dr. Katy Nelson, Chewy resident vet. “They might not eat, they might go outside of the litter box, they might hide—so give them a safe space just like you would a dog, complete with their litter box, a comfy bed, some food and water.”
Cats are sensitive to loud noises, so the loud bangs of fireworks can cause them serious stress. And that’s not even considering the flashes of light they create, or any party guests or visitors you’re expecting at your home during the 4th of July celebration. Any combination of these things is a recipe for cat’s anxiety.
Follow these top tips to help your feline friend stay happy and calm during fireworks season.
1 Keep Your Cat at Home
Even if you have an adventure cat, now’s not the time to let them wander outdoors. Even for experienced outdoor cats, the noise of July fireworks can turn the most confident, well-acclimated kitty into a frightened cat who’s prone to running away. Plus, with guests coming in and out of the home, it increases the risk of your cat slipping outdoors. And the last thing you want to do is spend the night of July 4th looking of your missing cat in the hopes they turn up.
Don’t risk it—keep your cat securely at home this Independence Day. If you have a cat flap or cat door leading outside, make sure it’s locked. (Silver lining? If you’re not a party animal, you can always use your cat as an excuse to stay in and cuddle.)
“If it is an option, I do recommend bringing your outdoor cats inside during the fireworks. They can get scared, they can run into the road, they can get hit by a car. It is very dangerous for them out there right now, so definitely bring them indoors,” Dr. Nelson says.
2 Take Pictures
Juuust in case you haven’t taken a photo of your cute cat recently (what, is your phone broken or something?), it’s a good idea to have up-to-date pics of them on hand in the unfortunate event that your scared cat does go missing.
Make sure your photos show any distinctive markings.
You can use recent photos to share with local shelters and rescues, print out on missing posters, and share on social media to enlist others in looking for your kitty cat.
3 Check Their ID
If you haven’t already, get your cat both a collar with ID tag and microchip. Holiday barbecues usually means a house full of guests who might not notice a curious cat trying to make a break for it.
Without the collar, your pet cat looks like a feral cat. Without a microchip, your cat is completely without identification should your cat somehow lose his or her collar.
If you already have your cat microchipped, check to make sure that their account is still active with your microchip provider.
4 Don’t Feed Scraps
Visitors to your home might think they’re being sweet when they try to feed your cat party scraps—but when it comes to common BBQ fare, like onions and garlic, they might actually be poisoning your pet.
Make sure all guests know that the cats have been fed by you (even if they act like they haven’t eaten in days), and that they should not, under any circumstances, get more food or drink.
5 Create a Safe Space
Pick the quietest room in your home and make a comfy, cat-safe place for your cat to hang out during the fireworks.
Many cats like hiding places, like caves or closets; if you can provide one of those in this quiet room, that might just become their new favorite hideout.
Include favorite toys and comforts, perhaps a cherished treat and their litter box.
6Use Soothing Scents
Consider using relaxing flower essences such as Rescue Remedy to keep your cat calm.
If your cat is normally anxious, consider Feliway pheromone plug-ins, diffusers and sprays to keep them relaxed.
“Pheromones are a scent hormone that is emitted from the mother cat that has comforting qualities,” says DVM and veterinarian to the stars Dr. Jeff Werber. “Pheromones bring cats back to the sensation they experienced when they were with their mother.”
7Play Some Calm Music
You might play some soft, soothing music to block out the sound of fireworks to distract your cats such as classical or music composed specifically to keep cats calm (yes, this does exist!). This soothing background noise can do wonders for your kitty’s nerves.
8Try a TV Distraction
Cats are incredibly perceptive creatures, and they can be sensitive to your emotions. So even though you know this might be a stressful time for your kitty, try not to get too wound up about it.
If you remain calm and relaxed as the fireworks explode, your cat will be more likely to do the same.
“The days following the 4th of July are some of the busiest every year for shelters around the country, so prevent your pet from becoming a statistic by bringing them inside, keeping them safe, and keeping them off the streets. It’s scary out there, so make sure they stay home,” Dr. Nelson says.
By following the steps above, you’re sure to have a fabulous celebration—and a happy 4th of July—while knowing your cat is safe and comfortable as well. What more could you ask for? Happy Independence Day!
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