Felines Fear Fireworks!

Felines fear fireworks…! It is at least an annual problem for cats. We know what causes the noise and therefore understand it. Despite that fact, a lot of us still dislike the noise of  fireworks and they can still frighten people, especially the huge bombs that cause window panes to rattle.

Ironic that in America Black Cat Fireworks are a major supplier. Photo by Bill Rogers (Flickr) creative commons.

But cats have no idea what the loud noises signify. They are likely to signify danger to a cat. Your cat will want to hide. Somewhere to hide, incidentally, is useful for all domestic cats at all times as it allows natural behavior when a cat is stressed or anxious for whatever reason.

The 5th of July, the day after the 4th July Independence Day celebrations in the United States, is a time when shelters have a spike in activity.Cats have fled their homes in terror and gone missing. Owners go in search and start at the nearest animal shelter after scouring the neighbourhood. The dreaded hour is approaching. Cats don’t know it.

What do you do to reassure your cat under these frightening conditions? I…:

  • Keep my cat inside – I think this is the most important thing to do.
  • Talk to him reassuringly.
  • Check he is alright.

That is about it for me. Is there anything else that can be done? Well, my boy is not so frightened that he needs somewhere to hide but some cats will need a place such as under a bed. These places should be available.

For people who are partying and who keep a cat, it would seem sensible to to keep your cat temporarily locked in a room with some provisions etc. And a little check from time to time wouldn’t go amiss would it?

In the UK, traditionally, we have fireworks on November 5th, Guy Fawkes night. However, the fireworks can start well before that date and can go on regularly almost nightly until the 5th.

Dogs are also frightened of fireworks. The same rules apply. I think a key factor if you are not participating in the firework displays is to make sure you are around to provide reassurance.

We don’t know how fireworks sound to cats and dogs. We know that hearing is well developed in both cat and dog. Cats are able to hear sounds to a very high frequency. It may well be the case that a cat hears loud noises more loudly than we do. I know my late lady cat could hear sounds that I missed such as a stray cat coming through the cat flap very silently indicating great sensitivity of hearing.

Finally, some sort of tranquillising drug might be contemplated as a remedy by some cat caretakers. Personally, I don’t think they are an option.  However, there is one mild but effective calmer, Bach Rescue Remedy that people use and which veterinarians sometimes prescribe for cats. This is the only treatment I would use other than music! Calming music can might be a good idea. Worth trying if your cat is particularly nervous. Elisa has written about this: Music For Cats And July 4th Fireworks.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Where we live Guy Fawkes day(5th November) is more like Guy Fawkes months, the fireworks are banging from early October until late November. Then again at Christmas and New Year. So our cats are more or less accustomed to the noise unless one of those bomb type flying bangers comes too near where we live. Why do some people have to have loud noises to enjoy themselves? When I worked at the vets we always had a rush on for sedatives for cats and dogs for Guy Fawkes Day, which in those days WAS mostly just a day, but really music or the TV on a bit louder than normal, is the best solution. The 2 cats we have now are very brave about the bangs apart from New Years Eve when we are all in bed and asleep and suddenly at midnight the bangs start. I feel for animals in fields, wild creatures and birds as it must be terrifying for them, most people don't give them a thought, to them it's all about enjoying themselves at any cost to other species.

  • Pets should be left at home when people go to fireworks shows. I wrote before about how we had a dog run right into the staging area of a fireworks show we were putting on at a Lutheran summer camp. My husband is really good at what he does-- he was the crew chief on the show-- and he radioed to stop the show when he spotted the dog. The dog's human was trying to run right in there after the dog, but the firemen stopped her and caught her dog for her.

    I once had a friend's cat in my home while she was away and the cat was so frightened at the sound of all the class C stuff being set off in neighbor's yards that he wouldn't come out to use his litterbox and pooped on my carpet instead. Even the consumer grade fireworks are dangerous. You're supposed to have a permit and obey minimum distances from property and spectators. If you can't do that, don't buy it. Leave it to the professionals. Or become one. Crews are always looking for help from people without felonies (you can't get a letter of clearance from the ATF if you are a felon) who are willing to complete the training and work their butts off. Professionals work with the really dangerous stuff and yet most of our injuries are from box cutters or bumps and bruises from lugging equipment around. Very seldom is anyone burned or hurt from the actual explosives. Many more people get hurt from the little stuff, probably because they don't respect it. Also, we have absolutely no alcohol allowed on shoot sites. I think people drink and get stupid and then injuries happen. Sadly, those hurt are often children or pets.

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