Help Your Cat Cope During Fireworks

The 4th of July is coming very soon and it is a time for celebration and gathering of friends and family. While we enjoy socializing, eating, drinking, and watching fireworks, it is often a very scary and stressful experience for our furry friends. Of course, there are some that it won't seem to bother at all. Most of our own cats aren't bothered by it however, we live out in the country and fireworks aren't going off in our yard. However, some cats will feel anxious and scared during this time.

So, what can we do to help them cope?

Watch a firework display on tv rather than setting them off in your own yard. But, what about neighbors or if you do choose to set off fireworks in your yard? Please read on.

Providing a stress-free environment will be essential for your cats. Since noise is what will most likely create anxiety or fear, keep your cat or cats where they feel safe. If you have company over, you may want to place your cats in 1 room with access to their litterbox and a "den" type bed or box to hide in. Some cats might want to be up high, so a table or a cat tower might be helpful. Make sure they have access to a water bowl, and if they will be in there for several hours, a food bowl as well. Put some familiar and favorite toys in the room and bonus if you can include a cat scratcher. They can use the scratcher to relieve stress. Some cats might even enjoy it if you create a tent or fort by draping a bed sheet over some chairs. If you are the only ones home and planning a quiet evening, you can still do the above however, you may choose to do it without confining the cats to 1 room. If you have a white noise machine, playing that can help drone out the noise from the fireworks. Cats sometimes enjoy classical music, so you could provide that for them if you don't have a white noise machine. Play the music or white noise at a comfortable level. You may even want to try this with your cats a few times before the holiday to make sure this doesn't cause more anxiety.


If the lights from the fireworks cause your cats anxiety, cover all windows until the nearby fireworks are over.

Providing a fun play session before company arrives and/or before the fireworks begin can help your cat to relax. Get out their favorite toy, and get them running and chasing. Wand toys are great for this. Give them a good workout, then a light snack afterward. Just like people, after exercise and a bit of food, they might feel relaxed.

There are products available to help ease a cat's anxiety. Please note that not every product might work, but some do. Be sure to follow the instructions provided for any product. Some popular products are:

Comfort Zone Calming Collars

Nature's Miracle Calming Spray

Thundershirts/Thunderwraps for Cats

Even if your cats are comfortable with all the commotion of people around and fireworks, placing them in their own room might still be worthwhile. This prevents any escapes out the door as people are coming and going. At the very least, keep an eye on your cats and ask your family and friends to do the same.

Another really important thing to do is to ensure your cat is wearing a break-away collar with it's tags on it. In case your cat does escape your home, it's a good visual to anyone that spots your cat that it does belong to someone. You definitely want to make sure your cat is microchipped. A week before the festivities, contact the company the microchip is with to ensure the information they have is up to date. Also, it is always a good idea to have your vet scan your cat's microchip at each visit to ensure it is still working.

Some cats can become reactive or aggressive when they feel stressed. They may think that when someone pets them, that it was actually that "loud scary noise". Your cat might react by swatting, scratching or biting someone (or another pet). If this is the case, your cat should be kept in it's own safe place until your company leaves. Some cats can take up to 24 hours to calm down.

If your cat is reactive or shows signs of stress and fear, help them. Don't punish them for their behavior. Do not force your cat into being pet or held, by anyone and especially by strangers. We all love for our family and friends to meet or interact with our furry friends. But, during a time when your cat might be feeling more stressed than usual, it is a better idea to show them the millions of photos on your phone instead.

If your cat's history of dealing with fireworks, storms or loud noises causes your cat to have an extreme reaction such as aggression, or eliminating outside the litterbox during this time, please reach out to your veterinarian for advice. Please do so weeks in advance of an event you are aware of in case medication is prescribed and needs time to work.





Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Can Cats Be Trained?

Can Cats Actually Be Trained? Yes!

When I first started working with cats, it was all new to me.  Growing up, I knew 1 cat, and like a lot of cats, I rarely saw her.  Once I was married and we had our first kitten, it was a learning experience mainly for myself.  Why was this cute little kitten flattening her ears back, why was she zooming throughout the house for no apparent reason, why did this sweet kitten turn into a scary monster when she first met our puppy?

We had to teach her that the puppy only wanted to play. How? We supervised and we made sure there were obstacles between them until we felt comfortable that both would feel safe. We also made sure their interactions were positive ones and they were rewarded for positive behavior.  They ended up being quite the pals as the years went on.

Volunteering at an animal shelter for the first time, I quickly learned that these cats were not the same as my cats.  Not because they might not have come from a home, but they were in a different environment entirely.  Even though they were being well cared for, many were scared and/or under-socialized.  That was when I realized that cats can learn to change their behavior or learn new behaviors.  Many cats were better socialized by the time they were adopted, we learned how to have positive interactions with them so we could interact with them. We even taught some cats agility!

Whether we want to teach a cat a new trick, a new behavior, change a behavior, or just to provide enrichment for them, it can be done.  Patience and consistency are key!

Some cats learn faster than others.  Discovering what will motivate them, is especially important.  Is it a tasty treat?  Is it a favorite toy?  Is it receiving attention/affection? Knowing what to provide for a reward is important.  Cats want to know what's in it for them sometimes. And, knowing when to end the training on a positive note is important so that no one is left feeling frustrated or bored.

Clicker Training is a wonderful method of training animals.  It creates a bridge between the animal performing the behavior, and receiving the treat.  The animal learns if it does the behavior correctly, when they hear the click, they know their reward is coming.  

Clicker Training can be used to teach fun tricks (look them up on YouTube), to learn a new behavior or change a behavior.  In our home, Mufasa (the oldest) has learned to high five, boop (touch my finger with his nose), and to sit. Rupert can also boop and sit.  Twyla is still learning, but is mastering sit quickly. 

So, yes, cats can learn. We just have to work in partnership with them to be successful.