Parties, Cats and Fireworks
Hosting a party?
Normally, cats and fireworks don't mix, but there are plenty of things you can do to make parties as comfortable as possible for your cat, both before and during the celebrations. We have listed some of these below as a useful guide.
Before the party
Make sure there’s a ‘safe’ place your cat can relax in
Some cats are quite curious about new people, but others prefer to hide away until they’re sure everything is safe. If you have a nervous cat, make a ‘safe’ room in a different part of the house full of your cat’s toys, a cosy bed and, if suitable, a litter tray. If possible, try to introduce them to this place and help them get familiar with it a couple of weeks in advance to better calm your cat at the time. Play with them there, using their favourite toys and games, and consider giving your cat treats to create a positive association with the room. They will be much more relaxed if they have a familiar refuge to call their own!
Many party decorations, especially at Christmas and Halloween, can be quite hazardous to your cat as they might be mistaken for things to play with. For example, long trails of fairy lights can look a lot like your cat’s favourite dangle toy. Set up the Christmas tree without decorations until your cat becomes used to its presence, and then keep decorations high and out of reach. Get your cat used to ignoring decorations by playing with her and her favourite toys and games around the tree, keeping her attention on safe, tested and familiar objects. Avoid using potentially hazardous materials like glass decorations, and tape wires down or keep them behind furniture. Pine needles are slightly toxic to cats, as are many Christmas favourites such as holly and mistletoe, so discourage them if they look like they want to chew or play with it. Candles are another one to watch out for. Your cat might ignore fire, but could still mistakenly knock something over!
During the party
Even if you don’t have an anxious cat, there are other hazards to watch out for when there are lots of new people around. Make sure no-one is feeding your cat any nibbles or leftovers. Let everybody know that your cat has their own meal times and specific food and even if they look interested in the appetisers served, your cat shouldn’t be offered them. Too much of food designed for us can cause illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhoea, and chicken bones can be a choking hazard and may require an emergency visit to the vet.
Keep an eye on your cat
Most cats are more than capable of looking after themselves and, whether yours is happy to stretch out by the fire and be the centre of attention or you have a nervous cat who prefers to leave the room, check on her from time to time to make sure she isn’t becoming spooked by the hustle and bustle and has everything she needs. She will need to be stimulated at least from time to time, as she would be when you are at home, as she is used to that routine.
Cats and Fireworks
Is your cat scared of fireworks? If your cat dislikes loud noises, fireworks parties present issues all of their own. Loud, random noises can understandably be scary and bewildering for your cat, especially as they don’t happen every day. Here are some additional tips that will help your celebration with fireworks go more smoothly for your cat.
Before the fireworks
Acclimatise your cat to noise
When it comes to a nervous cat, fireworks can be quite stressful. If you cat has a particular problem with loud noises, you might ask a pet behaviourist for help. If you can acclimatise a cat to firework noises when they're a kitten, they’ll grow up knowing it’s nothing to worry about. You might also consider putting on a CD of loud firework noises so the big event doesn’t come as too much of a surprise!
Keep your cat in after nightfall
If your cat has access to the outdoors, make sure they’re in before it gets dark and then shut the cat flap and close the windows. Even if you’re not having a fireworks party yourself, your neighbours might be, and fearful or stressed cats can easily run away and get lost or injured. With this in mind it’s also a good idea to make sure they’re microchipped.
Speak to your vet
If your cat’s behaviour doesn’t change, despite the tips adopted, let your vet know that your cat is scared of fireworks and loud noises. Commercial solutions such as synthetic feline pheromones might be a help; your vet can advise you on the best things to try. They might also be able to refer you to a qualified pet behaviourist who would provide an individual approach to treatment.
During the fireworks
Draw the curtains to disguise colourful flashes, and close the windows to make it as quiet as possible. Noise indoors, such as the radio or TV – whatever you cat might be used to – will make the noise outside less obvious, and hopefully help to calm your cat.
Distract your cat
Use toys and games to distract your cat. Fireworks may be scary,but if their concentration is elsewhere, they're more likely to be acclimatised to the noise. If these toys don’t seem to be working, break out the catnip, treats and laser pens!
As long as you’ve done your best to keep your cat calm and happy during the firework celebrations, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about – it’ll all be over before you know it!
Cats and bonfire night
In the days surrounding Bonfire Night, the number of missing cats goes up by about a third. This is probably because cats are more likely to be frightened by loud noises and other unusual events during this time, and will bolt, hide somewhere unusual, or become lost.
As well as taking the precautions described above to help your cat stay calm around fireworks, there are several things you can do to help keep them safe on Bonfire Night.
The smoke from bonfires can also pose a small risk to your cat, as it can make breathing difficult if they are too close. If your cat is outside, it may also reduce their visibility and sense of smell, making it more likely that they become lost. Keep them inside where it’s safe, and provide a litter tray and things to play with so they don’t become frustrated by being kept inside.
To help keep your cat safe during Bonfire Night, find out in advance where your local fireworks and bonfire displays will be. If possible, check with neighbours to find out if they’ll be letting off their own fireworks or having a bonfire in their garden. That way, you can be prepared for how much noise there is going to be.
If you have a cat it’s probably safest to visit a local display rather than having one in your own garden. If you use sparklers, make sure they’re put out and disposed of safely, to avoid your cat treading on them with their delicate paws the next day!
Cats and bonfires don’t mix well, so it’s best to take some precautions if you do decide to have your own fire. If you do have a bonfire, check it before you light it to ensure that no small animals – including cats – are sleeping inside. If possible, don’t prepare your bonfire days in advance and leave it out, as it can prove a tempting napping spot, and adventurous cats are likely to want to climb or jump on it, potentially causing injury.
Check bonfires before you light them to ensure no small animals – including cats – are sleeping inside. Make sure they’re not left unattended for days before lighting, as cats may jump on them and hurt themselves.