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To most Americans, July 4th is a day for celebration with friends and family, and a night for ooh-ing and ahh-ing over magnificent firework displays. Amidst the fun, it's easy to overlook the fact that Independence Day can be downright terrifying and distressing for your cat. The sounds (and subsequent burning smell) of fireworks explosions, or the bustle of a company-filled home, can cause anxiety and panic in even the calmest cats. But don't cancel your plans just yet; there are a few simple things you can do to keep your cat calm and safe during the celebration.
Keep your cat inside
Even if your cat is an outdoor roamer, keep her inside on the 4th and even a few days before and after because fireworks are often going off on days surrounding the holiday. Being startled by the bang of fireworks can cause her to panic, potentially darting into traffic to escape.
Create a safe space
Create a space in your home where your cat can hide away from everything that may overstimulate her. This space should include a comfy place for her to sleep, places for her to hide, toys, food, water, and her litter box. Check on her occasionally to make sure she is doing okay and if you’re going to be gone overnight, be sure to hire a pet sitter.
Consider playing soft music or white noise in the room to dull startling sounds. If she is prone to anxiety, you may also calm her with a pheromone diffuser.
Improve your cat's mood state
If you are home with your cat during the fireworks, try distracting her with an interactive wand toy. This is a great way to keep her mood and emotional state away from the fear end of the spectrum and instead feeling non-fearful in predatory mode. If you won't be home, set up a T.V. or computer in your cat's safe space to play a cat entertainment DVD or YouTube video, featuring moving birds or fish.
Before the 4th of July, make sure your cat's microchip information is correct or that she has a collar and tag—these will help her get back to you safely if she slips through the ever-opening door at your backyard BBQ. With a bit of awareness and a lot of care, you can ensure that you and your cat will both have a great holiday.
Who is Mieshelle Nagelschneider?
Meet Mieshelle Nagelschneider, ACCBC, a cat behaviorist and author of the science-based cat behavior book, The Cat Whisperer (Random House Publishing). Her passion and curiosity about cats, along with her study in animal behavior, has enabled her to help thousands of cat owners solve their cats' behavior issues for over two decades.
Learn more at The Cat Behavior Clinic, and look for her new book!