Your cat has a strong aversion to loud noises, and you know the upcoming fireworks displays for July Fourth will be stressful for them. Our team at Just Cats Clinic wants to suggest tips to mitigate your cat’s distress and keep them safe during the celebration.
#1: Tag your cat
Ensure your cat is wearing a snug collar with accurate identification tags. If they live solely indoors, they may escape during the commotion associated with the July Fourth festivities. Consider having your cat microchipped as well, ensuring you keep your contact information current with the microchip registry. This is the best way to be reunited with your cat should they escape. Also, take a photo of your cat so you can post current pictures if they are lost.
#2: Keep your cat indoors
Your cat will be safer and happier in the comfort of familiar, enclosed surroundings. If your cat typically lives outdoors, acclimate them to being indoors for the holiday. The sudden, explosive fireworks noise can cause panic in cats, and they may run into traffic or become lost. Unfortunately, some people find your cat’s fear amusing and will deliberately chase them with firecrackers. Keep your cat indoors to avoid undue stress and potential injury. If you are hosting a party, ensure your cat does not slip out as you go in and out. Post signs on your doors to alert your guests to watch for your cat and not allow them out.
#3: Prepare a safe zone for your cat
Securing your cat in an inner room of your house will prevent them from slinking out a door when you are distracted by party guests. This is also a good plan if you will be away for the evening. Ensure your cat has access to food, water, and a clean litter box. Give them treats in a food puzzle toy to help distract them from outside commotion. Place your cat’s favorite toys, scratching post, cat tower, and bedding in the room to make the space comforting and familiar. Commercially available pheromone diffusers can be calming for some pets, and soft music can help mask outdoor noises.
#4: Do not feed your cat party food
You may feel sorry about leaving your cat all alone in their safe room and want to treat them with some yummy party food, but a sudden change in your cat’s diet, especially with rich, fatty foods, can cause gastrointestinal upset. Also, many human foods are toxic to pets. After your party is over, ensure your cat cannot access leftover goodies or garbage containing prohibited morsels. If your cat ingests toxic food, contact our team at Just Cats Clinic or Animal Poison Control.
#5: Use behavior modification to lessen your cat’s noise aversion
Your cat can hear noises in ranges three times higher than you can, and they can detect sounds four to five times farther away than you. These abilities make your cat extremely sensitive to and fearful of loud noises, but behavior modification techniques can decrease their response.
- Record or download fireworks noises.
- Play the sounds at a low level while your cat is calm and relaxed. As long as they do not become anxious, feed them a high-value treat, or begin playing with their favorite toy. The sound should predict the reward. Continue the activity for several minutes and try to incorporate several sessions each day.
- Over several days or weeks, gradually increase the volume of the sounds. If your cat becomes anxious, lower the volume back to the safe zone until they are calm again, and reward them with a treat or playtime. Start the next session at the safe volume, and make incremental increases in volume.
If your cat is acting fearful, do not hover over them, attempting to reassure them. Your cat will pick up on your anxiety, which will only exacerbate their own stress levels. Your cat is not misbehaving when they exhibit a fear of loud noises, and punishing them is counterproductive. Forcing your cat to endure the experience is also counterproductive, and may cause them to become aggressive to escape the situation.
#6: Stay at home with your frightened cat
If your cat is fearful of loud noises, your presence can be calming. Without showing excess attention, act normally, and stay in the room with your pet. This will allow them to approach you if they need comforting. Offering treats or playtime with a favorite game can distract your cat during a stressful situation.
#7: Determine if your cat is a candidate for medication
If your cat becomes excessively stressed and fearful, and your attempts to mitigate these fears have not been successful, ask our team at Just Cats Clinic if a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication may help them cope during the holiday. Never administer your cat over-the-counter or prescription medications without speaking to a veterinary professional.
You will enjoy the July Fourth celebrations more if you know your cat is safe and stress-free. If you would like to discuss anti-anxiety options for your cat, do not hesitate to contact our team at Just Cats Clinic.