Brilliant, glittery bursts of color and sparkle grace the skies on the Fourth of July, and human “Ahhhhhs” can be heard as we marvel at the fireworks crackling and ka-booming across the summer evening.
For cats, this traditional display of Independence Day (a holiday whose message is fervently embraced by felines) is less about appreciation, more about anxiety. Loud sounds, especially sudden, harsh noises, startle the purr out of felines, who are highly sensitive to anything loud. Noise assaults their tender ears and sends them scrambling for cover: they only know “loud” means unknown and scary.
My late one-eyed tabby Yoda was so fearful of July Fourth fireworks---which were too close for comfort, taking place at a high school field across the street—that I kept all the windows closed, the AC on high and TV at a conversational level to keep him from freaking too much. Even so, he could feel the air ruffled by that muted “BOOM” and sizzling aftermath, and spent every July Fourth curled in a far corner under the bed. Worse for Yoda: one summer the town sponsored a weekly band concert followed by fireworks, every Thursday through Labor Day.
Your feline could be mellower, so the sound of fireworks and/or loud music may be no more interesting than the occasional backfiring truck. But if your kitty reacts keenly to noises, you can easily prepare for the sounds of summertime, especially those near your home.
If you’ll be around on the night of the fireworks, your presence will reassure your pet that no, the world is not under attack! Just as I did for Yoda, you can batten down the hatches till the last firecracker fades. But if you’re planning to be out enjoying the festivities, attend to your cat first. Secure him in a room without windows if possible—an interior bathroom is great. With litter box, bed, fresh water, food, night light and a radio set to classical tunes, your cat can weather the celebration in purrfect feline style: by ignoring it.
If your cat is very nervous or excitable, you may be tempted to tranquilize him. NEVER EVER give human medication to a cat. Before even thinking of administering anything to your pet, speak to your vet first. She’s the best judge of what your cat needs, and may recommend one of the pet-specific products that can provide a calming touch in situations like July Fourth or on car trips. Holistic spirit essences offered by Jackson Galaxy, the tattooed “Cat Daddy,” are popular choices. The ‘Stress Stopper’ version is excellent for fireworks-shy cats. Similar products like Cat Calm Down and Rescue Remedy are also available. A few drops on a paw or tongue, or in water/food, a light spritz on toys or in his room, will ease feline anxiety for several hours—plenty of time for the final rocket’s red glare to vanish in the air. Ka-BOOM!