Cats Terrified by Noisy Fireworks

My cat and I have just endured 30 minutes of the noisiest fireworks I have heard in a long time. It must have been a firework display at a local club about 500 yards away (as the crow flies). The loudest of the modern fireworks go off like bombs. The windows rattle. I feel I am in a war zone here in Central London. I couldn’t even watch TV. I did this post instead!

Charlie, my cat, is in terror of the window shattering firework bombs that make a dull and shocking sound. He is scuttling around the apartment looking for somewhere to hide. At first he came to me on my bed and cuddled up on my lap.

Then he moved again and again in search of some sort of respite, a hiding place from the scary eardrum busting blasts. He has that look of terror on his face, which I hate to see.

Fireworks Terrify Cats
Fireworks Terrify Cats. Main photo by Amani Hasan
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

When fireworks are this loud and close by I think the people who put on displays are creating a public nuisance. They are also inadvertently abusing domestic animals. I know the word “abuse” is harsh but if you watch a cat terrorized by fireworks for half an hour I think abuse is about right.

I have come to believe that fireworks are a nuisance and no one who puts on displays seems to have a regard for domestic cats. In places like London where people live close together almost any firework display is going to be close to homes. That means lots of scared cats.

And what of cats that are outside? Are they going to run away or do something silly and dangerous?

My personal view is that there should be some sort of accountability. These people don’t have a regard for others. Perhaps they think that everyone in the area can watch the display for free and aren’t we lucky. A lot of people don’t like fireworks. And all cats hate them. Cat are also confused by the noise. They don’t know what to make of it. I say to him it’s just people being people.

In Britain firework displays take place well before Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) on 5th November. Sometimes you might hear them a fortnight before the 5th November. And regularly from then on.

I know there is probably nothing anyone can do about this perennial problem. I just feel there should be a bit more concern for the animals. I don’t think it is wise to try and pick a cat up under these circumstances. It is best to let him find his safe place and make some comforting sounds and perhaps stroke him until it is over.

12 thoughts on “Cats Terrified by Noisy Fireworks”

  1. If people are shooting off fireworks without a permit, then they are imposing their choice upon others. When a municipality issues a permit for the local 4th of July fireworks show that is different. I live near State Fair Park and listen to noisy cars racing around the track, music so loud I can understand the lyrics from my back yard and on occasion, fireworks. I would not say people can’t have their fun because I don’t like the noise. We chose to buy a house near the park. We all have to live together, and sometimes that means putting up with other people having fun with something you don’t enjoy or aren’t able to enjoy at the time. I grew up in a tourist town, so I guess that’s just normality to me– the noise of other people having fun while I am not. So once in awhile I get to have some fun, and it’s about time if you ask me.
    I disagree with Marc that fireworks are not creative. The man in charge of one of our bunkers (where the company stores product) puts on a really great show for the employee party every year. We do a clean out the bunker show, for which the company also sends up some product just for us. (We call it a party but work our butts off all day.)That show is shot electronically and I’m always so impressed with what he comes up with. Some shows are just random shells put up. But some people really are creative geniuses in that medium. It’s always fun to hear guys critique shows by our competitors. Now I’m starting to see what makes a great show and what isn’t great.
    Almost all our product comes from China. If you go to convention you can learn to make a shell, make it there and fire it (electronically) there. I find mostly we should leave it to the Chinese, because usually the stuff amateurs make doesn’t go off right. Also, making it is more dangerous than working with the finished product. Our company manufactures no product, but goes to China and tests product. If one thing fails out of a batch the whole batch is rejected. I feel safe shooting a safe product, but we lose some shows because our prices are a little higher. However, the companies that skimp on product safety are losing shooters, because although pyrotechnicians might seem like crazy lunatics, we don’t actually want to die.

    • You make a good point about creativity. I suppose I mean the non professionals – the people who just go out and buy them privately. I find that to be very uncreative entertainement. If anything the people who make them are creative – or people like yourself who put on choreographed shows. Its an important differentiation to make.

  2. My husband and I work for a fireworks company, so I feel a bit differently about this subject. Noise is cheaper than color, so that’s probably why the show was so noisy.
    I don’t like the noisy shows either, but I don’t think it would be fair to ban fireworks, because obviously a lot of people do like them. Around 100,000 people come down for Milwaukee’s lakefront show every year. However, the Class C stuff bought by private citizens and shot off without the benefit of a permit– that can all go away. There are plenty of professionally shot shows to attend and if someone really wants to play with that stuff they can come work with us. High end consumer grade fireworks can easily kill stupid and drunk people. If you think you’re smart enough to handle it or that you’ve been doing it for years– well, that stuff doesn’t really care about that. It will still take you out if you are complacent.
    Most shows we shoot are out in the country, not near any homes. Wild animals will run away, which is good because then they will be safe. We wouldn’t be close enough to homes for it to be louder than thunder, probably wouldn’t be as loud. It probably booms a little harder in those high rise apartment buildings by the lake. The show is shot from barges on the lake, so it’s easy to follow distances, except for the idiot boaters always trying to get too close.
    I find most people are the opposite of PoC readers and want to get too close. Keeping the public out of the area where we set up is hard. Local police and fire departments help.
    I think my presence in Jeff’s crew has had an influence on safety. I was widowed once, it’s not happening again. All salutes are now shot electronically by our crew, since that is a shell that will kill you if it goes off in the mortar. I’ve discouraged some of the biggest noise effects at times, or had Jeff rethink their placement.
    I actually enjoy shooting shows now. I did it at first because Jeff was in a bind. I used to just help set up. Now I really like it. I’m hooked. Maybe because that intense sulphur smell and especially the mix of the evening dew as we clean up and the residue in the mortars is one of the few things I can actually smell. I hardly ever can smell anything, but as Jeff always says, “I love the smell if sulphur in the morning!” It’s weird, I know. I also just like being on the firing line with my flare in hand with the other guys back there, the burning stuff falling all around us, as we stand with our backs to the mortars. When you shoot you stay low, below the level of the mortars. You don’t see the show, you only hear it. We do wear est protection. I like that our company even now is working on designing mortar racks that will be safer when we have to hand fire. Wiring things in for the shows shot by computer is tedious, but it can be fun. As all the guys are sitting on little stools by the racks wiring shells it always reminds me of when my mom used to host quilting parties for ladies from church and they’d all sit working around this quilt held in a frame. Funny that all those pyrotechnicians at work would remind me of a quilting bee. There are good and bad in every industry, but I think Jeff and I work for a great company with a really fun but safe group of “guys.” There are a few women, but most are in it because a man in their life got them started at it.

    • “Noise is cheaper than color, so that’s probably why the show was so noisy..”

      That is a nice observation that I missed. Perhaps firework manufacturers are making noisier fireworks because of the recession. We did not have fireworks this noisy when I was young (1960s). I don’t mind fireworks if they are staged professionally and a good distance from houses. That arragement lets people who want to see them enjoy them while not imposing themselves on others who want quiet including cats. What upsets me is that the people who want to see fireworks impose their choice on people who don’t, like playing loud music, which incidentally is a nuisance in law in the UK.

      Thanks for the great comment Ruth. Very useful.

      • Blue is the most expensive color to make. It can spontaneously ignite in the presence of moisture. Similar to sodium, but I’m not sure which element it is. It’s from the same column as sodium on the periodic table of elements.

  3. Poor Charlie,our old cat Ebony used to be terrified for weeks every year, she had a bed in a kitchen cupboard where she went to feel safe. We live on the edge of a housing estate and for weeks again now fireworks have been banging away further in the estate even though the law says they shouldn’t be set off in public places, but the police have no chance of catching the culprits. It gets worse every year, the fireworks bigger and louder. The 2 cats we have now don’t seem too frightened unless a rocket type comes very close whizz then BANG because they’ve heard them for the 11 years of their lives. Local shops are selling them half price, but even so, they are very expensive. It’s mostly unemployed youths around here who do this. How do they afford them? How do they justify sending money up in smoke paid for by other people working and paying taxes? I worry about outside cats, ferals and also wildlife, birds, hedgehogs, animals in fields etc. Also old people, we have some OAP bungalows not far from us and some of these people lived through WW2 with bombs dropping, it must make their blood run cold to have to endure bangs night after night, sometimes in the daylight too!
    I sign every petition going to get fireworks banned but that will never happen as it’s as usual, all about making money for some people who don’t care who suffers through that.

    • I am pleased we think alike on the subject of fireworks. Perhaps fireworks are for the young. If that is the case there should be more respect for the older citizens and their cats 🙂 Charlie is OK now. He came to bed with me – bless him. He snored all night. I’m tired!

      • Yes fireworks are for the young I suppose and I wouldn’t begrudge them having ONE day to enjoy them, but November 5th is Guy Fawkes DAY it’s NOT Guy Fawkes month. It was a day we looked forward to as kids, we had those bonny fountains and Catherine wheels and sparklers and a bonfire and all the kids would come and our parents supervised. Next day we went around and picked up all the used fireworks and that was it. Now we have bangs louder every year,for weeks on end, then again at Christmas and then New Year’s Eve. It is forcing the noise on people who don’t want it, yes just like loud music by people with no consideration for others. A couple of years ago yobs pushed a lit firework through an old man’s letterbox, he and his cats all died in the resulting fire. Yesterday I saw a news article with a picture of a 10 year old boy with horrific burns by an ‘onion bomb’ firework exploding in his face, every year children and animals are injured, property burned down, fire fighters injured. Dangerous fireworks should NOT be on sale to the public,but they are! Organised displays well away from anyones homes might be OK for people but outdoor animals and birds and wild life still suffer. Yet still it goes on, enjoyment for the selfish, fear and harm for the innocent.

  4. I worry alot about outdoor cats and animals doing silly things out of fear and getting themselves run over for example, or locked inside a garage having run in under a slowly closing door. I agree its terrifying for indoor cats too. This summer we had some serious thunder and the kittens got very scared – but after a few times they started getting used to it. Although initially scared they would then calm down and go look out the window. The same will go for fireworks no doubt. When they get louder and closer the kittens will get scared and then I expect they will slowly get used to it. Now Charlie is much older and I dont know if he grew up with these sounds. I think for an older cat who is not used to it, its a much different experience. Although initially scary as would be for kittens I think an older cat will not get used to it so quickly, if ever. I also personally dont particularly like fireworks because its a form of entertainment that others are forced to experience, in many ways like graffiti is, just involving sound. I have never felt that it is ok for me to enforce my creastivity upon others by force, and I think fireworks are not even very creative in that sense. Talk about cheap thrills that cost alot of money and last a short time. I’m sure people who love fireworks also probably love a rollercoaster ride. These are all the most passive forms of entertainment in that physically they are so crazy you dont need to do anything to experience them. These are not for animals however. We humans have often such dulled senses but animals are still in touch with themselves and nature, and such things are just complete insanity and totally senseless (i.e.: sense impairing) – they leave a damn ringing sound in your ear. I believe Rudolph is in some cases right – younger animals will become used to this and will not even care about the sounds after a few times. But it is quite different for the ones who are not used to it or much older.

  5. According to my experience, cats and dogs get accustomed to noisy fireworks.My locality in Mumbai has one of the highest decibel systems of fireworks during festivals of Deepavali, Dushera and Ganesh Chaturthi, to name the most prominent celebrations.Initially the cats got frightened of the noise and hid in corners of the house but with age seem to have got accustomed to the same. Before cats, my dogs also got accustomed to fireworks.Parakeet mitto has been living in my balcony since the last 20 years, absolutely accustomed to fireworks.Only be sure that your house doors are closed during fireworks celebrations as all animals initially get frightened and run into openings or corners of the b house.In an enclosed flat the pet is safe within the confines of the house but the same may not be true for outdoors cats or pets.

    • I agree Rudolph. Cats will be accustomed to almost anything, just like people. With fireworks happening once yearly they come as a shock to a cat and a nuisance to some people.


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