Remember, remember the 5th of November…
…. The firework season is upon us, with peak activity now (Bonfire night) and another burst on New Year’s Eve. For most of us a joyous time, for others a more troubling celebration as their feline friend is terrified.
Generally, most cats struggle with fireworks. They may cower or hide behind the sofa, soil the house, try to run away or escape, overgroom or show restlessness. Any of these behaviours can indicate that your cat may not be coping.
The earlier we can put some coping mechanisms in place, the easier our friend will get through the firework season. In terms of behaviour modification, we try to control the impact of fireworks by playing music and keeping the cat inside, etc. If the anxiety isn’t extreme, by the introduction of classical counter-conditioning we try to create a positive association with fireworks by giving high-value food rewards; playing games or offering a food puzzle. Or, we can teach our friend a coping response, ie retreat to a safe place until the frightening thing ends.
Safety first, ensure your cat is microchipped, even indoors can bolt and escape if frightened. Tags and collars can be lost. If your cat is already microchipped, make sure the details are up to date.
A few top tips for calming your cat during fireworks:
Keep your cat indoors
Stay at home if your cat is frightened by fireworks
Don’t leave windows open, make sure the cat flap is securely closed
Close curtains and blinds before fireworks begin
Provide a safety spot for your cat where they have has access to a litter tray and water bowl
Create a cozy cat cave – ideally at least 3 weeks before the start of the season and place it in the safety room. Remember, cats feel more comfortable up high; think 3D.
Create a sound buffer – play music (classical) or put the television on, not to drown out the fireworks, but at comfortable volume, to create noise distraction
Comfort your cat but let her set the pace
Use a calm voice and display calm body language
Offer fun and playtime for your cat
Use Feliway in your cat’s safe room – ideally start using prior to the season
If your cat has a history of being absolutely terrified at this time of year, talk to one of us at the Oxford Cat Clinic. We might feel a nutriceutical supplement such as Zylkene or a prescription only anxiolytic is necessary.
Always try to prepare ahead!