04 Nov Keeping our cats safe on bonfire night
As pet owners, we all know the stress and fear fireworks cause our four-legged family members between November and New Year. So what can we do to help them feel safe and secure while the night resounds with the BOOM of fireworks?
Bring them inside before night begins
If you have an outdoor cat, bringing them inside before night falls (when the fireworks start kicking off) means your cat won’t run away and seek refuge outside, possibly somewhere unsafe. Calling them in earlier means you can keep an eye on them, and you know they are safe at home.
In my previous blog post (Firework Season Looms) I spoke about how to create a quiet den for your cat. This is a great way to help them feel secure when the fireworks begin to go off. Wherever your cat chooses to hide, don’t try to coax them out or try to reach in to pet them as this will cause more stress. It’s best to leave them alone so they can have some peace and quiet.
I’ve briefly spoken before in other blog posts about herbal remedies and how they can help relieve anxieties. My personal preferred anti-anxiety remedies are Pet Remedy diffusers (they come in a plug-in, spray bottle and even as wipes), which can help create a soothing environment and reinforce that our cats are in a safe place.
There are also a variety of remedies that you can put in their food or water, which can also help lower their stress levels too. Valerian drops are my favourite for anxious pets (I use them on my own cat Millie for vet trips as she used to panic the second we got in the car), but there are also brands like Zylkene and Beaphar that have tablets or treats you can give your pet too.
Whichever method you use, it’s advisable to start them on it before darkness falls so it has time to work its way into their system and start to take effect. You can find all of the above at your local pet store if you haven’t already got them.
Turn your tv up a little louder, or have a radio or music player on in whichever room your cat has chosen as their hideout. This can help distract or drown out some of the noise that causes the upset for our cats. Playing with toys can also help distract cats, and battering toys can help them take out their anxieties too – buy strong smelling toys stuffed full of silvervine, catnip or valerian and let your cat decide if they want to use them. If not, the scent of any valerian toys is still helpful.
You could also try a Thundershirt. It works by applying gentle pressure across the body, which apparently has a calming effect on animals. You would need to train your cat to accept it, which would mean a lot of time, patience and treats! I’ve heard positive results from dog owners on its use, but I don’t personally know of any cat owners who have used it and what their experience of it is. I imagine cats that are used to wearing harnesses would accept wearing one more quickly than those that don’t.
To prep for next year, you can also purchase a Fireworks sound CD, which you can use to desensitise your cat to the loud noises. The idea it to start off with it at a very low volume, playing it at random times each day, and slowly increasing the sound. The idea is to teach our cats to ignore the sudden bangs, learning that it’s not worth paying attention to. Just have a search online for firework desensitisation CDs.
And that’s it for this month!
I’ll be uploading a video onto our facebook page (check it out here) on how my own home is set up with cat trees and cat beds, so my cats get the best use out of them. It might give you an idea of where to put the beds, scratchers, or trees you have in your home too!
Stay safe, and see you next month for our next blog – where I take a look at christmas present ideas for our furbabies!