How to Keep Your Cat Calm During Storms and Fireworks
Fireworks are great and all, but they can be scary for the pets in our life. Dogs may be able to vocalize their fears with barking and yelping, but most cats are equally as terrified of firework shows (along with other loud, sudden noises).
Think: Humans know that fireworks are coming, but our furry friends? There’s no way to warn them about what’s to come. With each boom, rattle and sizzle, your cat may become more and more terrified, causing them to get a case of the cat zoomies, become aggressive or go to the bathroom outside of their litter box.
Fortunately for you and your loved ones, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up your fireworks tradition altogether. There are so many tips and tricks in place to keep your cat calm during stressful moments, whether it’s a noisy fireworks show or a loud family gathering.
It’s your call: You can find ways to encourage your cat to embrace the noise, give them an out or turn to medication or other calming methods to ease their nerves. As long as you’re keeping your cat’s health top of mind, there’s no wrong choice.
Here, we’ve outlined seven easy ways to keep your cat calm, along with tips on how to spot your cat’s anxiety on the day.
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Frightened During Fireworks and/or Storms
Every cat will react to loud noises and flashing lights differently. Some may scurry to their secret hiding spot at the slightest noise (tucked in the back of a cabinet, snuggled underneath a blanket, cornered behind a couch, you get the idea), while others may kick back and enjoy the light show.
Even though most cats haven’t perfected their poker face, it may be hard to tell if your cat’s behavior is a result of stress or not. Before the stress really sets in, please pay attention to their tail: Some cats twitch the end of their tail as a warning sign that they are feeling anxious. At the same time, they may extend their claws.
When frightened, cats may also exhibit the following anxious behaviors:
- Constant meowing or shrieking
- Excessive grooming
- Aggressive behavior
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Diarrhea or other bathroom issues
- Failure to properly use the litter box
If you think about it, their anxious behaviors align with what their human counterparts may experience in anxiety-ridden situations.
How to Keep Your Cat Calm
Fortunately, there are ways to make everyone in your household happy during fireworks or storms. Here are some of the best ways to keep your cat calm during the fireworks display (or any particularly stressful situation).
Train your cat to handle loud noises better.
Part of the thrill of fireworks is the surprise — you never know when it’s going to come until it’s there. That very idea may be off-putting to many, including your furry friend. In the days leading up to July 4, prepare your cat for what’s ahead by playing recordings of fireworks. If they stay calm during the recording, reward them with cuddles, treats, and playtime to indicate that this noise is a good, not bad thing.
The same can be done with cats who are afraid of other humans: Leaving the TV on in the background, for example, may even help them become familiar with voices from outside the household, making their interactions with strangers less scary.
Distract your cat with other sounds and games.
Before the fireworks start, make sure that the doors, windows and curtains are fully closed so that you can muffle the “booms” as much as possible. Turn the TV on, play music or switch on a fan to help block out the noise. Even with all this noise, your cat may still be focused on what’s going on outside. If they aren’t ready to face the fireworks just yet, then distraction may be essential. In that case, whip out their favorite toy or sprinkle catnip on their scratching post, so they can keep busy while you enjoy the light show.
Create a safe escape for your cat.
In an ideal world, you would be able to enjoy the holiday with your cat snuggled up on your lamp. Try as you might; your cat may still run off at the sound or sight of fireworks, so you might as well make sure that they have a cozy spot to escape to. Warm-up their go-to hiding spot with blankets, bedding and a few of their favorite toys. If there isn’t a litter box nearby, move one closer to their designated hiding spot to avoid accidents. If possible, plan to hide out with your cat or at least in the same general area. They may not want you to touch or cuddle them when they’re stressed, but your presence will undoubtedly calm them down.
Keep calm — yes, you!
Often, pets mirror their owner’s behavior. If your cat can sense their panic, then it may cause them to spiral even more. Check-in on your cat, but don’t try to hold them or force them to cuddle. Let them come to you on their own time and follow their lead when the time comes.
Lock all the doors and windows.
You know the zoomies your cat gets from time to time? They may reach new heights during a time of panic. Ensure all of the screens, windows and doors are nice and secure to prevent your cat from making a quick escape. As you know, cats are very sneaky, so if there’s a will, there’s a way. Try to think like a cat and close off any space that may be dangerous to your pet.
Dress your cat in calming collars or shirts.
Sometimes, you have to invest in the right products to help your cat stay stress-free. Calming collars contain pheromones, which are known to ease a cat’s nerves.
There are also pheromone sprays, plug-ins and diffusers so that you can fill your house with a calming scent in the weeks leading up to the big fireworks show. If they’re willing, you can dress them in a compression shirt, which gives a hugging sensation to help them feel more secure. Think of it as a weighted blanket for our feline friends.
If all else fails, talk to your cat’s vet.
If this is a regular occurrence, then it might pay to have your vet check your cat to see if there’s a more effective solution. Depending on the severity, they may prescribe anti-anxiety medication or sedatives to use in certain situations. If you’re heading out of town, hire a cat sitter.
Maybe you won’t even be home to watch over your cat this July 4. In that case, hire a cat sitter or ask a neighbor, friend or family member to check in on your cat if you think there may be fireworks in your area.
Show love to your cat through Skoon.
Sure, cat litter isn’t going to make fireworks less scary. But, choosing a healthy cat litter that’s dust-free and better for the environment will improve your kitty’s life. (And frankly, yours, since you will have less of a mess to clean up!)