Fireworks - Keeping cats safe & calm

Cats can become extremely distressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks.

Fireworks no longer mark a one night celebration, but span a season lasting from October to December. Find out how to keep your cat safe and calm during fireworks season.

fireworks blog main image

We all know the old saying “remember, remember the 5th of November” but for pet owners, this date is marked in our calendars as a warning rather than a celebration. Many cats become extremely distressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks, so we’ve put together some tips to keep your cats safe and calm during this time.

Fireworks season now extends from Halloween at the end of October all the way to New Year’s Eve. It’s not just our pets that are distressed by fireworks. Horses, farm animals and wild animals including birds, and small mammals, also suffer from the psychological effects of firework explosions.

So, how can we put a stop to this suffering? The easy answer would be to ban fireworks completely, particularly for home use where there is no legislation. One alternative is to switch to ‘quiet’ or ‘low noise’ fireworks, which are now widely available. Collecchio in Italy has already passed legislation to ensure only quiet fireworks are used in their displays. There is also a current UK petition to make fireworks quieter, which would cause less disturbance to people and animals.

The switch to quiet or low noise fireworks may take a while yet, so for now follow these tips to keep your cats safe and reduce their stress levels during firework season:

Check your chip in advance

cat being scanned for microchipAhead of firework season, ensure your cat is microchipped and that the details on the chip are up to date. It’s strongly recommended to keep your cat indoors during fireworks, but there is always the chance they will get out! If this happens, they may get spooked by the noise, and run to an area they are unfamiliar with. So it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to be returned home if they get lost.

Keep cats indoors

Cats that are outdoors whilst fireworks are being set off can become stressed or disorientated, causing them to become lost, or to run into the road and get injured. Check the dates and times of local displays, and speak to your neighbours, so you know when to keep cats inside. Make your home escape-proof and provide a litter tray, even if your cat doesn’t usually use one.

If you can, stay home with your cat when displays are planned, to help him feel safe. Keep calm yourself during firework noise, as cats can pick up on our emotions. If your cat sees that you are chilled out, it can help to lower their own anxiety levels.

Soothing sounds

cat with radio in background

Fireworks can be extremely loud, and it’s usually this that frightens most cats, as they have very sensitive hearing. Turn on the TV radio, or some music to provide your cat with more familiar and therefore comforting sounds. Turning the volume up a bit higher than usual will help to mask the noise from outside.

Close curtains

As well as the noise, the bright and flashing lights from fireworks can be distressing for some cats, so make sure you close the curtains or cover windows.

Give them space

If your cat chooses to hide it’s best to just let them! Don’t try and force them out of their hiding place or pick them up, they will come out when they are ready. Make sure they have access to safe places to hide, such as under a bed or behind a sofa.

Distraction techniques

 cats playing with a jar of ballsDistract your cat with things they enjoy such as their favourite food, extra fussing, a new toy, tasty treats or extended playtime. This combined with the other steps above should ensure that they don’t pay too much attention to what’s going on outside. More ideas here: Keeping your cat entertained indoors.

Calming products

There are a number of products available to help keep your cat calm during fireworks season. Spot on calming treatments, food supplements and plugin pheromone diffusers can all have a relaxing effect on your cat, and can work wonders when used with the other ideas we have suggested. Speak to your vet if you are especially worried so they can advise the best products for you to use.

Support your local shelter

Recently we’ve seen a lot of talk on the internet about taking the money you may have spent on fireworks and buying a bag or pack of food to donate to your local animal shelter instead. This is a wonderful idea and we hope it catches on!

We hope these tips help you and your cat enjoy a more peaceful and less stressful season.

Further Reading

RSPCA #BangOutofOrder campaign
How fireworks harm nonhuman animals
Fireworks & the law

Contributor: Ella Street, Cat Chat Blogger
Published: October 2021