How to Help a Cat Who's Scared of Fireworks

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Holidays and other fireworks seasons are often scary and overwhelming for our cats. The loud noises associated with firework displays can cause distress to our cats. Unfortunately, this can lead to cats becoming frightened and sometimes darting outside and getting lost.

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Comforting your cat

Some people believe the myth that by comforting a fearful cat (or any pet) that it will reward the anxiety and will increase the frequency, but that isn't the case. If you have a cat that is fearful about fireworks, it's ok to do whatever you need to in order to keep your cat safe and comfortable. Your cat is looking to you for support and it's always ok to comfort a scared cat (or any other pet in your home) who is upset about the fireworks. If you know your cat is worried about fireworks it's a good idea whenever possible to adjust your schedule for the day to allow you to be with your cat providing pets, cuddles and supervision to ensure they are safe.

Safety first

Regardless of if your cat has demonstrated anxiety about fireworks in the past or not, it's important to be prepared. Anxieties or fears can develop at any time so it's important to be prepared with strategies to keep your cat safe. Make sure that your cat is wearing a collar and a tag with updated contact information. If your cat has not been microchipped, this is a good opportunity to have a conversation with your veterinarian if the time is right for your cat or kitten to be microchipped. If your cat already has been microchipped be sure to check with your microchip provider to ensure that your contact information (address, phone number and email address) is accurate and updated.

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Keeping kitty confined

The loud sounds of fireworks are often scary to cats. Fireworks can cause cats to get startled and run out open doors or windows and get lost. (The AKC points out that more pets go missing on July 4th and 5th than any other days of the year.) It's safest for your cat to always be inside, but if you do allow your cat to go outside sometimes be sure to close all cat doors and keep your cat confined inside your home during the days leading up to any holidays where there will be fireworks. Similarly, if your cat regularly has access to an enclosed catio, it's a good idea to limit access to the catio during fireworks to prevent your cat from becoming spooked by the loud noises and flashing lights.

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When fireworks are happening, it's safest to keep your cat safely confined to a small, contained area of your home. In addition to not intentionally allowing cats to go outside it can be useful to keep cats from having access to rooms with doors that open to the outside, as well as any windows that might get opened to prevent your cat from unexpectedly bolting. An easy way to do this is to keep your cat confined behind closed doors in a bedroom, or even a bathroom. This way your cat will be secure if people are going in and out or you get a delivery.

Create a safe space

Cats who are worried or afraid generally feel most comfortable if they can hide or nest in a small area. Many cats naturally will find themselves small, dark, and out of the way places to hide when they are worried, like behind toilets, under cabinets, or between and under couches, chairs, and beds. If you anticipate your cat being concerned about fireworks, it can be helpful to proactively create a small nest/fort/safe space for your cat in a quiet, secure, and out of the way area of your home. Make sure that your cat has access to a litter box, food and water nearby to where you encourage your cat to seek shelter from the loud noises. It can also be helpful to bring your cat and treats into your cat's safe space to help comfort and distract your cat from the loud noises outside.

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Treating kitty anxiety

If you know that you have an anxious cat, or a cat who has previously struggled with the loud sounds associated with fireworks, you may want to purchase Feliway, which comes in both a spray or a plug-in and releases pheromones, which may help calm and soothe frightened or anxious cats. If your cat is still distressed by the sound of firework displays, it's a good idea to talk with your vet, who may recommend prescription anti-anxiety/sedative medication to help your cat cope with the fireworks.

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