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Fireworks are a tradition through the autumn months but for cats, bonfire night can leave them feeling stressed. If you’re worried about cats and fireworks, read our expert guide on keeping your cat relaxed and safe.

5 ways to help your cat stay calm during fireworks season

  1. Keep your cat indoors after dark. It’ll reduce the risk of them being spooked!
  2. Create a safe space for your cat. A cardboard box lined with blankets is perfect. Cats feel safer higher up – placing the box on a sturdy shelf is even better.
  3. Play music. Yes, really! Cats and loud noises don’t necessarily mix and keeping a radio or TV can help if your cat gets scared from the sudden sounds of fireworks.
  4. Use a pheromone plug-in. A plug-in diffuser, such as Feliway, can create a calming effect on anxious cats. Begin using it a couple of weeks before fireworks season and place it in the room where your cat spends most of its time.
  5. Stay calm. Instead of overly comforting an anxious cat, keep your cool – your cat is more likely to feel settled if you are.

Are cats afraid of fireworks?

If you’ve got a cat, you might notice that cats and loud noises aren’t particularly compatible.

Cats have super sensitive hearing, meaning they hear things humans do but a lot louder. In fact, they have one of the widest ranges of hearing in mammals. It’s why your cat might notice an arrival at the door before you do, or pick up on another cat’s presence in the neighbourhood.

For cats, bonfire night is not only a noisy and unwelcome celebration – it is a highly unpredictable time. As creatures of habit, loud bangs and flashes of light take them by surprise, which makes them fearful.

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

Even the most confident feline might struggle with the sounds of fireworks, and cats that are stressed may react in a number of different ways. Frightened cats might appear startled by noises, run away or hide in the house. You might notice that your cat acts out of the ordinary, either toileting in the house or excessively grooming themselves. Other signs of cats stressed by fireworks include:

  • hiding or becoming withdrawn
  • eating or drinking less than usual
  • fearful body language
  • pacing, circling or restlessness

If you notice your cat looking stressed or anxious, follow our top tips on cats and fireworks below.

Find out more about the symptoms of stress in cats

Should I keep my cat inside during fireworks season?

If you know that your cat becomes distressed at the loud noises and lights of Bonfire Night and other festivities, the best thing to do is to keep your cat inside after dark. Giving them their own ‘cat curfew’ means they’re less likely to stumble across a noisy fireworks display – they’ll soon get used to curling up on the sofa in the evening. To keep your cat indoors, make sure you’ve got:

  • a litter tray
  • food and water bowls
  • a place to hide (like a cardboard box, cosy bed or even a favourite cupboard!)
  • toys or games to keep them occupied

Remember, cats are clever creatures. Keep all cat flaps, windows and doors closed to ensure they don’t escape or hear the fireworks from outside. Cats can also squeeze into tight spaces, especially when they’re feeling frightened – you might want to make sure that any unsuitable areas are blocked off to keep them safe.

Find out more about keeping your cat safe at night

What else can I do to keep my cat calm during fireworks season?

Aside from keeping your cat inside on the evenings of fireworks displays, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure they feel settled. Watch our video for advice on cats and fireworks from our experts.

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

Cats that are spooked tend to flee and if you’ve forgotten to close a window, they’ll soon find it! Keeping your cat’s microchip details up to date with your current address and phone number will give you peace of mind that if they were to disappear, you’d have the opportunity of a happy reunion. 

Find out more about microchipping your cat

Stay home with your cat on Bonfire Night

If your cat is particularly anxious around fireworks season, you might want to avoid leaving them alone in the house.

Knowing you’re around can help them to feel settled, and there’s no better time of year to cosy up inside!

If you do leave the house, make sure you set up a safe and comforting space for them to relax in while you’re gone.

Create a safe space for your cat

Does your cat like to hide when they are stressed? This is a usual behaviour for anxious cats. A space to retreat to is likely to make them feel happier. Try a cardboard box lined with blankets, for example, or a favourite bed or sleeping spot. Some cats like to head up high as it gives them a better vantage point, too. Cat towers are ideal for this, but you can recreate the same feeling with a cosy bed on top of a wardrobe or a box on top of a sturdy shelf.

Avoid keeping your cat in one room

You might be tempted to keep your cat in one room, away from the noise and chaos of fireworks. While well-intended, some cats can feel more stressed if confined to one room. Let them have full reign of the house – they’ll be content in exploring their surroundings!

Consider closing the curtains to keep things cosy

You might notice that the flashes of light that come with fireworks can make your cat feel anxious, especially if there is a display close by.

Try closing the curtains or covering windows with a blind to see if it makes a difference.

Keep the radio or TV on to distract from loud noises

Background noise, like the radio or television, can help to reduce the impact of sudden sounds that come with firework displays. Some types of music, like classical music, can be particularly calming for cats. Time to get the radio on the go!

Give your cat some space if they need it

Cat feeling stressed? Trying to pick them up or cuddle them might make them more fearful. Cats can also take a while to calm down, so giving them some space is a good idea. They’ll soon come to you when they’re ready.

If your cat does seek your affection, it is fine to give them some attention – let them guide you on how they feel.

Buy them a well-deserved treat

A new toy, like a fishing rod toy or catnip mouse, can be a great distraction from the noise of fireworks. Buy them something special and they might focus on that instead.

Use a pheromone plug-in diffuser

If you haven’t tried them before, plug-in diffusers such as Feliway are great additions for households with anxious cats.

You simply plug them in where your cat spends the majority of its time (your living room, for example) and the pheromones help to soothe your cat during stressful times. Try using it a couple of weeks before firework season begins to see if it makes a difference.

Find out more about Feliway here

Keep calm to keep your cat calm

It can be difficult to know what to do about cats and fireworks – especially if your cat is usually confident! Carry on as you normally would and your cat should soon know they’re in a safe place and hopefully feel more content.

What if my cat is still stressed from fireworks?

If you’re worried your cat is still stressed out during fireworks season, it is best to visit your vet for more advice.

They may refer you to a qualified behaviourist, who can help with reducing your cat’s stress.

Speak to your vet sooner rather than later too – making sure your cat can cope with noises and lights may take time and you’ll need lots of patience to help them through.

You can find a registered behaviourist at www.abtc.org.uk

See our cats and fireworks top tips

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