Every year American families (including my own) look forward to seeing the 4th of July Fireworks together. It is great entertainment and a time of pride for ourselves as a nation. Still, our cats don’t share our enthusiasm for such celebrations. I have 4 great tips for helping your furbaby through the 4th of July celebrations, but first a quick explanation.
Wait, why are cats so scared of fireworks?
As far as hearing goes, humans got the short end of the stick. Cats can hear frequencies that are both higher pitched and lower pitched that what you and I even know is there. Their hearing is also sharper than ours – a cat can hear a mouse rustling in the bushes 30 ft (9.2 km) away!
There are also psychological reasons for the fear of loud noises in cats. Fireworks and thunder are sounds that happen suddenly. Admit it, they’ve made you jump once or twice. The difference is, you have the psychological ability to justify the noise as 1) familiar and 2) not harmful (“whew just a firework”). Your cat is not quite so lucky in that department.
Tip #1: Provide A 4th of July “Safe Zone”
There is a good chance that during the fireworks (or during the party if you are having guests over), your cat will just want to hide. Figure out where your cat’s favorite hiding spot is and make this the “Safe Zone” for the 4th of July. If your cat’s favorite hiding spot is not ideal for a Safe Zone, create a place where your cat will be comfortable. Don’t allow guests in the Safe Zone if at all possible. Make sure that your cat has all the necessary supplies in or near their Safe Zone to make it through the night: food, water, litterbox, etc. Close doors and windows if possible to muffle the noise from the fireworks/party as much as possible. You may even choose to leave a television or radio on in the Safe Zone area playing at a normal volume to muffle the noise even further and bring some familiarity to the situation.
Keep Kitties Indoors During Fireworks
It is best to keep your cat indoors for their own safety during the fireworks. During moments of high anxiety, cats can become confused and behave in unusual ways. Even if you are having a party at your own house, make sure that you keep the doors closed and your guests know to do this as well. On nights of great celebration, such at the 4th of July, it is very easy for a cat to get lost or hit by a car. I hate to say it, but these also tend to be the times when people with bad intentions are out doing their rounds because they know there will be a crowd to hide in.
Use Calming Products
There are tons of products that exist for the purpose of helping your cat stay calm during unavoidable high anxiety situations. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what products will be best for your cat. They may prescribe certain medications that will calm your cat. Please do NOT give your cat any human medications or alcohol and be check with your veterinarian before using any medications sold over-the-counter.
If you are a more holistic person like me, you may prefer a non-medication method of calming your cat. Here are a few helpful products:
Pheromone diffusers by Feliway– These work by releasing synthetic cat pheromones into the air (they same ones your cats releases when they rub their cheek on something). Cats find it very calming. Humans can not smell this, nor are they or any animal other than cats, affected by these pheromones.
- Calming coats –
- The Thundershirt version works by giving your cat a gentle hug. In essence it is the same comforting feeling you give your baby when you swaddle them.
- The Rein Coat version is a looser fitting coat that only puts gentle pressure on the nape of the cat’s neck (just like mommy cat did). These are custom ordered to fit your cat just right.
- Calming collars by Sergeants – These work using pheromones just like the diffusers mentioned above, but can last for 30 days.
Mind Your Own Behavior
One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to be careful about how YOU behave. If you are in the home with your cat during the fireworks, stay calm so that your cat can see that you are not disturbed by the noise. If your cat feels the need to hide, don’t force them out of hiding or punish them for being afraid. Doing those things will only make your cat more afraid. Please don’t let your guests (including children) do these things either.
Any unusual smells that you have picked up will be much more potent to your cat. If you have been drinking heavily, the smell of alcohol on your breath and in your sweat may be disturbing to your cat. The same goes for being near cigarette smoke (if you don’t smoke), campfire smoke, and any drug usage that you don’t frequently take part in. My advice is to shower and/or let the smells wear off before entering your cat’s Safe Zone.
Should your cat decide to hang out with you rather than hide, make it a positive experience – play a fun game with them, give them treats, pet them, etc. Go at your cat’s pace and don’t push them to do anything they aren’t in the mood to do. Just have a little empathy and imagine how you would feel if you though bombs were falling all around you.