Cats and Fireworks - Not a Great Match

The 4th of July is a fun day of picnics, friends, pools ... and fireworks!  While we enjoy their color and drama each year, our cats (and dogs, too, for that matter) may not.  Loud noises frequently frighten animals who, in the wild, associate them with danger.   It's not just fireworks that are loud and can scare pets, the same is true of thunder.

But the 4th of July is nearly here and you may have noticed that the loud noise has already started since fireworks (where legally sold) are on the market and going fast.

Cats need special care and consideration this time of year.  If your cat has a history of being afraid of loud noises, then you may already have a plan in place or have even tried some behavioral therapy to help your cat deal with the fear.  There are several recommended steps you can take before the celebrations start to be sure your cat is safe.

First, make sure your cat's identification tag is up to date and that he or she is microchipped.  Your microchip contact information should also be up to date. With both of these steps taken, if your cat should bolt outside and disappear, the chances are much better that she will make it back to you.  If your cat's world includes a secure outdoor yard area, double check it to make sure it is escape proof but don't leave outside in the yard during fireworks.

The best options for helping your cat get through fireworks or loud storms are common sense!  First and foremost, the best thing you can do is to keep your cat inside your house if fireworks are going off nearby. (Lock your cat door!) Cats will typically hide if they are startled or frightened so a good plan is to create a safe space your cat can go to.  A great place for a cat during fireworks is an interior room of your house with few or no windows. (If there are windows, close the curtains or shades.) Putting your cat's favorite bed and blanket there, or even a covered crate, and adding some soft music, TV or the "white noise" of a fan will help make your cat feel safer.  If you use music or TV, don't turn it up too loud.  No need to add to the stressors for your cat.  There are also CDs available that feature sounds and music designed to calm pets. Keep the lights in the safe room on so the flashes of the fireworks are less visible.  If you can, staying with your pet during the fireworks is also a good idea.

Other suggestions include making sure your cat gets some exercise before the fireworks begin and using a pheromone spray like Feliway as a calming agent.  If your cat has more intense anxiety, you may have tried desensitizing training in consultation with your vet.  For severe cases your vet may recommend medication.  Before the fireworks start, you and your vet need to determine and test the proper dose for your cat.  Never give your cat more than the vet-recommended amount.

If you are the person in charge of the fireworks, never allow your pets to get near them.  Animals are curious and, even when unlit, fireworks can be dangerous for them since they are made from a variety chemicals and heavy metals.

When the fireworks are over, spend some time making sure your cat is ok and not showing any signs of still being frightened, like trembling, panting or not eating normally.   If these signs continue, call your vet.

You know your cat better than anyone else so you'll know which of these options will work best.  Or try several!  Let's keep our cats and dogs safe and happy this Independence Day!


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