Expert Q&A: Fireworks
For most cats, loud and unexpected noises would come top in a list of things that make them unhappy.Their super senses are quick to pick up on the strange sounds that accompany fireworks, which can cause them to bolt for safety.
But there are ways you can help your kitty survive fireworks season.
Our veterinary expert Dr. Alexandra Beck explains exactly why your cat finds fireworks SO unappealing and shares her top tips on how you can help them tolerate the bangs, fizzes and pops…
My cat is terrified by loud noises — why is this?
Festive and exciting for humans, cats (and most other animals) are unimpressed by the colourful explosions that fill the sky during firework season.
“Cats like to feel calm and be in control, which is why fireworks are a big no-no in your kitty’s books. The bangs and booms are loud, disorienting and certainly not part of their perfectly planned daily routine.”
Cats have super sensitive hearing. They hear things we can’t, and much louder.
“Cats have one of the widest ranges of hearing amongst mammals, enabling them to hear the very high pitched sounds made by mice and other small rodents.”
If your cat can hear a mouse rustling in a bush 30 feet away imagine what the bang of a firework must sound like! Probably not dissimilar to someone blasting an air horn in your ear.
To make matters worse, fireworks are also highly unpredictable. Think of them as the kitty equivalent to someone sneaking up on you and shouting “BOO”. Unpleasant, right? That’s what a firework feels like to your kitty.
“Cats can become accustomed to a sound if it is predictable. In other words, if it is always the same, occurs at regular intervals and nothing harmful is associated with the sound. Fireworks, however, occur randomly throughout the year, not giving your kitty a chance to prepare.”
How do can I tell that my cat really doesn’t enjoy the bangs of fireworks?
Cats like to keep you updated on how they’re feeling. So, If your cat is a little frazzled by fireworks, it’s likely that they’ll tell you about it — all you need to do is pay attention!
“Cats show their discontent in a number of different ways: whimpering, hiding under blankets and in furniture (cupboards and wardrobes) or attempting to escape”.
It’s particularly common for cats to try and flee when fireworks are going off outside your home. The sight, the smell, the sounds — they certainly didn’t sign up for this!
Other signs of unhappiness to look out for include: panting, scratching and over-grooming.
How can I keep my cat calm when fireworks begin going off?
Unlike humans, the ‘face your fear’ routine doesn’t work so well for cats. As we’ve established, their preferred solution is to RUN & HIDE!
So, to ensure your kitty doesn’t end up sprinting into any trouble, it’s best to try and keep them indoors. After all, the bangs are only going to get louder outside.
“Make sure all cat flaps, doors and windows are kept shut when fireworks start going off. If you haven’t already had your cat microchipped, it may be time to think about it!”
Combat any grumpiness you may receive from your cat for not letting them out by creating a cosy and secluded den for them inside. Entice them into this hideaway by plugging in a FELIWAY CLASSIC diffuser beside it.
“The combination of a warm, comfy bed and FELIWAY’s ‘happy messages’ will leave your kitty feeling calm, content and happy.”
You can also attempt to try and distract your kitty from the commotion going on outside.
“In addition to having all windows and curtains closed, put on the TV or radio to help mask the sound of the fireworks.”
Remember, loud noises are your kitty’s kryptonite, so don’t punish them if they start acting up. Instead, try and comfort them.
“Talk to them with a calm voice and stroke them gently if they appear to want affection.”
Finally, make sure your cat has access to an indoor litter tray.
“Fireworks may frighten your kitty and result in them needing to use the bathroom. If you have a kitty who spends the majority of their day outside, it’s easy to forget they need a toilet inside too!”
Is there a way to help my cat get used to fireworks?
Your cat is never going to LOVE fireworks. You’re never going to walk into the front room and see them perched on the windowsill gazing up at the colourful explosions. This just isn’t going to happen!
There are, however, ways you can help desensitise them to the strange sounds and smells — this is particularly important if you live in an area where firework displays are common.
“Find a good quality video or audio recording of fireworks. Start playing it at a low volume, enough to be heard, several weeks before fireworks season. If your cat seems to tolerate it then you can gradually increase the volume. The goal is to reach a volume similar to what your cat would experience when real fireworks are going off.”
This will help prepare them for the real event — your kitty will be a firework pro in no time!
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