By Kit Marsters
Fireworks and cats… they just don’t mix. At best, you end up with a baffled cat sitting in the windowsill and wondering what is going on. More likely, you’ll have a cat hidden under the bed, unwilling to surface for a good time to come, or a cat manically running around the house looking for shelter far, far away from all this noise.
New Year’s Eve, Bonfire Night, and other occasions where fireworks are used are stressful times for cats. It doesn’t help that there are always people who start lighting fireworks well before the special date set for their use. Not to mention those who just cannot seem to stop and carry on lighting them for a long time afterward.
If your cats have access to outdoors, make sure to keep them inside on special nights when fireworks are expected. It is a worrying thought to have your felines outside on a hill, hiding in the bushes because they are too scared to dash back home. Luring them inside with a treat a good amount of time before the worst is expected to start, and then locking the cat flap, will give you and your cats some peace of mind as to their safety.
If you happen to have a good relation with your neighbours, it doesn’t hurt to have a word with them. If you kindly ask them not to light fireworks when they can see the cats are out and about, I am sure they will be considerate. Especially if you mention that you will have them safely indoors on the actual night. It’s a fair deal, after all, and most people love pets and would not deliberately hurt or frighten them.
On the night itself, you could play some soothing music. Alternatively, you could turn on the television. Background noise can help distract your feline from the big bangs outside.
Close the windows and, if possible, close the curtains. This will help your feline to feel shielded away from what is going on. Talk to them, pet them, try to reassure them that everything is alright.
This doesn’t mean you can’t go out and enjoy yourself. You can light fireworks yourself if you like doing so (and if it is allowed where you live, of course). If you do want to light fireworks, try to keep it brief as you can. And it is preferable to go for the prettier fireworks such as rockets and fountains, rather than those that sound like big explosions.
If you are going away during those times, ask a family member or friend to turn on the lights when it gets dark. Or leave them on yourself, if you are only out for the night. Have the radio on, softly enough to not disturb the neighbours, but loud enough to provide background noise. Make sure the litter tray is clean, and that there’s plenty of food and water available.
If your cat has a certain hiding place, it can be helpful to place the food, water and tray nearby. That enables your feline friend to make a quick dash for them when needed. It can eliminate the risk of any scared soiling of hard to get to places.
The best thing to do, of course, is to keep your cat company during those hours and to provide them with some comfort. Your presence will automatically reassure your feline that everything will be alright. After all, if you’re okay and calm, they will be, too.