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The 4th of July is probably a cat’s least favorite holiday. I know it is at our house. Even Ruby, who was not afraid of thunderstorms, became unsettled when fireworks started going off in our neighborhood. Allegra used to be terrified during fireworks. Thankfully, the last few years, she’s handled the noise better. What makes dealing with fireworks so challenging is that the noise usually begins a few days before the holiday, extending the stress for cats beyond just one single day.
A cat’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours, and all the noises associated with the holiday are much more intense for them. Add to that the lack of understanding of what is going on, and you can have a very scared cat on your hands.
These tips can help your cat cope with fireworks:
Create a safe room or safe hiding places
If there’s a room in your house where the noise from fireworks is the least noticeable, you may want to designate that as a safe room during the holiday. Put beds, food, water, toys, and cat trees and scratchers in the room. Leave a radio or tv on in the room; this may act as white noise and block out some of noise. “Igloo style” cat beds can also be a good option. If you keep these types of beds in areas where you and your cats spend a lot of time, they may use them to hide from the noise rather than hiding under the bed.
Close all the windows
Close windows and lower shades and/or draw blinds to at least lower noise levels somewhat.
Play some calming music
Don’t try to drown out the sound of fireworks by blasting the music. Choose soothing classical music, or calming music especially designed for cats.
Natural calming remedies
Remedies such as Rescue Remedy, Stress Stopper or Storm Soother can help keep kitties calm. Pheromone plug-ins such as Comfort Zone with Feliway can also help – use in the area where your cat tends to hide during storms.
Our cats pick up on our emotions, and if we’re anxious, they’ll be anxious as well. Even though some experts claim that trying to comfort your cat when she’s scared will reward and reinforce her fear, I disagree with that advice. As long as you don’t overdo it and just act like you normally do, you’ll reassure your cat that everything is fine.
If your cat has reacted very badly to fireworks in the past, you may want to talk to you veterinarian about prescribing anti-anxiety medication.
Photo by Walt Eis, Flickr Creative Commons
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This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.