[UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2023]
It’s that time of year again; cosying around a bonfire, gazing up at the bursts of colour in the night sky and waving sparklers through the air. Whether it’s Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, or any other special occasion, there’s something absolutely magical about fireworks.
However, the loud noises and flashing lights can be terrifying for our cats. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to try and minimise their stress levels during these celebrations. This guide includes some of our best tips to help your relax cat this firework season.
Why are some cats scared of fireworks?
Simply put, cats associate loud noises with danger. And fireworks can be very loud. That coupled with the constant flashing can set your cat off into a panic.
Every single year, out-of-hours vets are inundated with pets who have been spooked by loud bangs and have injured themselves. We recommend keeping your emergency vet’s number to hand, just in case. Or, if you’re a YuMOVE subscriber, you can take advantage of free 24/7 access to an online vet courtesy of PawSquad.
How to prepare your cat for fireworks
Try to get them used to firework noises
Most cats are very sensitive to sound. In the build-up to fireworks, try to desensitise them to the kind of sounds associated with fireworks. You could do this by playing firework videos on your TV or with special sound CDs and playlists.
Make sure their microchip is up to date
Microchipping your cat is an essential step to help ensure you can reunite with them if they do go missing. And as of new legislation introduced in early 2023, all cats will be legally required to be microchipped by the 10th of June 2024.
Microchipping is especially important during firework season, as cats may well make a run for it when they’re spooked. Double-check that all their microchip details are correct before the big night. This way, if they do end up going missing, they can be more easily returned to you.
You may also want to consider an easy-release collar with an engraved tag. This way, your cat can be easily identified when out and about, but doesn’t face the risks that come with a non-easy-release collar. If your cat doesn’t normally wear one, try introducing it a few weeks in advance.
Try a natural calming aid
Supplements can help to ease anxiety during firework season (and all year round!) Our YuMOVE Calming Care range helps not only to ease anxiety, but also to reduce stress and support calm behaviour. We recommend introducing the supplement in advance – ideally about six weeks before firework season. This way, Calming Care has time to get to work to help keep your cat cool as a cucumber when the fireworks go off.
How to tell if your cat is stressed due to fireworks
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify the signs of stress in cats. But here a few of the tell-tale signs:
- Hiding or running away
- Dilated pupils
- Hissing, grumbling or loud vocalisations
- Arching their back
- Withdrawing from you
- Being extra clingy
- Pinning their ears back
- Moving slowly and low to the ground
A sudden change in behaviour is the biggest sign your cat is stressed out. If they’re normally friendly and affectionate, but now they’re cowering from you, or if they usually keep themselves to themselves but are now being super needy, then they’re probably afraid.
What to do on the night
Keep your cat indoors
This one goes without saying. We would recommend always keeping your cat inside when there are fireworks going off, even if you’re not launching any yourself. Keeping your cat indoors will stop them from being caught out and startled if fireworks suddenly go off in the vicinity.
Our top tip: If your cat is normally an outdoors cat, but you’re keeping them inside for the night, make sure to provide an indoor litter tray in a convenient location. If your cat is feeling anxious, they may avoid going to the toilet completely – but it’s best to give them the option!
Escape-proof your house
Keep all external doors closed, and close any cat flaps, when you know fireworks will be going off. This will help stop your cat escaping if they do panic.
At the same time, though, be sure to leave some internal doors open so your cat doesn’t feel trapped. Being stuck in one room could agitate them further.
Finally, remember to close your curtains or blinds, as well as your windows. It’s not just the sound of fireworks that can upset your cat, but the bright flashes of light, too.
Our top tip: You might be surprised to know that cats can squeeze into extremely tight spots. So, block off any dangerous or inappropriate areas of the house.
Create a safe place
A cat’s natural instinct tells them to run away when they’re scared. If your cat has a favourite spot in the home – whether that’s their bed, the space behind the sofa, or under a table – encourage them to settle there. Make the space appealing with blankets, treats and toys. A cardboard box can also help them feel safe thanks to its tall sides.
You should make your cat’s ‘nest’ extra cosy a few days before you expect the fireworks to begin. This helps to reinforce to your cat that they can relax, de-stress and just generally feel safe there. Giving them a choice of different hiding spots can be especially helpful in keeping them calm.
Our top tip: A lot of cats like to be up high (this way they can have a bird's-eye view of everything going on). Try placing a box on top of a sturdy cupboard or shelf, to help them feel relaxed. If your cat is in their senior years, add some steps to help them reach higher spots without putting strain their joints.
Distract your cat
Tactical distractions can sometimes work wonders! You could try playing with your cat, giving them a yummy treat, brushing them (if they like that), or playing some background noise to distract them from the fireworks.
Our top tip: We recommend playing some music, or putting on the radio or TV. One of the biggest reasons why cats hate fireworks is because of the loud noises. These sudden bangs can be diluted with music or the TV.
Keep calm and carry on
Cats are extremely perceptive. They will notice when you’re acting oddly. If you’re upset, frightened, or stressed, your cat is likely to pick up on it. If they see that the fireworks don’t bother you, it may influence their behaviour and help to reduce their stress. Following your cat around, or being too affectionate, can cause them to become confused and might add to their nerves if it’s not something they’re used to.
Don’t interact with your cat or pick them up if they’re distressed. When they’re upset, cats can suddenly act aggressively. They also take a long time to calm down. Try to wait until the morning before interacting with them again.
Our top tip: Try not to leave them alone in the house. And make sure they know that you’re around. Just knowing you’re in the house will give them some comfort.
Surprisingly, some cats actually enjoy sitting near a window and watching the fireworks go off. If this sounds like your cat, then we hope you have a lovely time together this Bonfire Night!
Calming Care for Cats
- Perfect for nervous and stressed cats
- Eases anxiety
- Each pack contains 30 sprinkle capsules
- Suitable to use short and long term
Does your cat get stressed out during stormy weather? Consider starting them on YuMOVE Calming Care for Cats to help support calm behaviour, ease anxiety, and reduce stress.