Cats and fireworks – how to keep your cat calm

It’s a noisy time of year with all the firework displays and it’s not surprising this can induce fear and stress for cats. The good news is, there are things you can do to keep your cat safe and calm during fireworks. From prescription medications, calming diffusers and supplements, to changes in the house and advice from a qualified behaviourist.
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How to help your pets stay calm during fireworks season

How to help cats that are afraid of fireworks

It’s a good idea to speak to a vet for advice on the best treatments to suit your cat. The vet can refer you to a clinical animal behaviourist for more support if needed. You can access instant advice from our vets and behaviour team through the Joii app. All from the comfort of your own home, without any stressful travel for your cat.

cats and fireworks

Are all cats scared of fireworks? 

Cats are sensitive animals and most will be alarmed by sudden loud bangs and flashes. After all, most cats prefer a quiet life! Some cats will be more anxious than others.

Cats that are more prone to stress and anxiety might be triggered by noisy events. They often show this stress with changes in behaviour and this can take them longer to recover after the event than cats with mild anxiety.

Studies show that chronic pain or some medical conditions can make noise phobias and behaviour issues worse. Especially in older cats, or where the anxiety is getting worse over time. It’s always a good idea to get these cats checked by a vet to see if they need prescription medication to help.

How can I tell if my cat is stressed by fireworks?

Cats can be good at hiding stress but behaviour changes often come first. Signs can be subtle such as licking lips, swallowing, hiding, becoming more withdrawn and acting more on edge. Some cats will become more aggressive, arching their back, hissing and spitting, whilst others may be more clingy or attention seeking. Excessive meowing, overgrooming and toileting or spraying in the house can also be signs. 

Body language changes that indicate stress include freezing, crouching and holding the tail close to the body. Cats will change their facial expression too with wide eyes and pupils.

Cat showing fearful body posture
Cat showing fearful body posture

Stress can trigger some medical issues such as tummy upsets and cystitis. Signs to look out for include vomiting, diarrhoea, off food, straining to urinate, urinating more frequently or blood in the urine. Speak to a vet straight away if you notice any of these signs.

Should I keep my cat inside during fireworks season?

Yes! It’s a balance because you don’t want to stress them out if they are used to being out and about. But keeping them indoors at night time and after dark during fireworks season is a good idea. That way, if fireworks get set off unpredictably, they won’t be frightened and at risk of bolting and getting lost or stuck somewhere. Be sure to provide them with litter trays in a quiet spot when keeping them indoors.

How to keep your cat calm and safe during fireworks

The good news is, there are lots of ways you can help your cat feel calmer and safe during fireworks season. From changes in the house, to supplements and calming diffusers. Some cats with severe anxiety will benefit from prescription medication from a vet alongside a consultation from a clinical animal behaviourist. 

Make sure your cat’s microchip details are up to date

If your cat does manage to escape and get frightened by the loud bangs, they may run off and get lost. If their microchip details are up to date, they can be scanned at the vets, easily identified and reunited with you.

Create comfortable hiding spots

Creating safe places for your cat to hide will help them feel more safe and secure. Pick the area of the house they like to spend time to create cosy hiding spots. A box on its side with a blanket over the top with their favourite bedding, treats and toys makes for a cosy den. Make sure there is an opening so they can come in and out as they please. Cats feel safe when they’re up high, so if you can position the box up high even better.

Block any unsafe hiding spots

When cats panic they may try and hide in unsafe places, risking getting stuck or lost. Block off any rooms or places they could get stuck. On fireworks night, to reduce their chance of escaping, make sure they can’t access the doors to the outside, especially if people are coming in and out. Remember to lock their cat flap too, cats are brilliant escape artists! 

Don’t confine your cat to a small space or room

Cats will feel more relaxed if they have free access to different areas in the house. Confining your cat could make them feel more stressed if they panic and want to escape. Put a few hiding spots in different places around the house. It also helps to have their resources such as litter trays, food and water bowls in quiet areas away from doors or windows where they can’t see or hear the fireworks as easily.

Give your calm calming treats or supplements

There are lots of calming supplements and treats on the market for cats with variable effectiveness so speak to a vet to find out the best one for your cat. ‘Zylkene’ and ‘Yumove calming care’ are supplements proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Either of these can be started before the noisy events. Speak to a vet before starting these as sometimes they shouldn’t be given with certain other medications.

Our Joii vets can advise you on the best products to help through the Joii app and have them delivered straight to your door.

Act normal around your cat

Try and act as calm and relaxed as possible on fireworks night. Your cat will pick up on any stress or anxious behaviour from you which could make them feel more on edge. Most cats prefer to hide when scared, but if they come to you for reassurance, comfort them with calm strokes and a gentle voice. Avoid any punishment for unwanted behaviour as this can make them feel more stressed.

Use a pheromone diffuser

The Feliway pheromone diffusers are clinically proven to help de-stress cats by releasing calming messages. Plug a diffuser near the place your cat spends most of their time, or their safe hiding place. The Feliway Help diffuser lasts for 1 week for temporary stressful events like fireworks night. The Pet Remedy diffuser is another calming choice. Speak to our Joii nurses through the Joii app for advice on the best calming diffuser for your cat.

Distract your cat with sounds and games

Distraction is a good way to help take your cat’s mind off fireworks before they feel too anxious. Have a range of toys and their favourite treats at the ready. For example feather toys on a string for a game of chase, and puzzle toys for hiding treats. Put on a calming playlist or classical music to help muffle out the bangs. Close the curtains or blinds to block out any flashing lights from the fireworks too.

Give your cat some space if they need it

If cats are feeling stressed, they often hide until they feel safe to come out. Giving them space can really help. If you try to interact with them when they are stressed, they may react aggressively. Instead, wait for them to come to you showing relaxed body language, before giving them attention.  

Explore medication or alternative therapy

For some cats with more severe anxiety, prescription medications may be needed to help them cope. Speak to a vet about the most appropriate medication to help your cat. It’s worth planning ahead to try the medication before the event. A vet can also advise you on the best calming supplements and diffusers to use.

Is your cat still scared of fireworks? Ask for help from a behaviourist

If your cat is still stressed despite the calming changes in the home, then it’s time to see a qualified animal behaviourist for advice. A vet can refer you to a suitably qualified behaviourist for advice to help desensitise your cat to fireworks and teach them not to be scared. At Joii we have a friendly behaviour team that can give you advice for your cat from the comfort of your own home. Speak to our vets through the Joii app anytime to book an appointment.

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Fear of fireworks can take time and patience to overcome. But with the calming measures mentioned and advice from our vets and behaviour team, your cat should feel more relaxed. Often a range of different treatments and therapies are needed alongside advice from a behaviourist to help in the long run. If fears are left they can get worse. So seek advice as soon as you can, to ensure stress free firework seasons for you and your cat in the future.

Our Joii vets and nurses are available 24/7 and can help you help your pet during this fireworks season.

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