How to calm your cat on bonfire night

Lots of cats dislike fireworks and the loud noises they make. There are two stages to dealing with this. The first is to try to desensitise the cat to the bangs long before bonfire night. This may involve using repeated, progressive exposure to firework noise to help them develop familiarity to it. Speak to an animal behaviourist about this.

On and around bonfire night, desensitisation won’t be much help so cat owners need to take steps to manage both their pet and their environment to minimise the problem.

Some cats will do all they can to hide their fear, while others will show much more obvious signs such as dilated pupils, hissing or low grumbling or withdrawing from you. When cats are scared they’re also likely to arch their back and crouch, pin their ears back, and make slow low movements.

Seven tips on how to help cats cope with fireworks

  1. Make sure your cat can’t harm himself should he become scared. Even the most placid of cats can occasionally bolt for cover
  2. If your cat has outdoor access, make sure to keep them indoors at the times when fireworks are likely to go off
  3. Try to keep your cat somewhere with no windows (to remove the flashing light/rattling windows aspect of the fear) or black out the windows
  4. Make sure your cat’s favourite ‘safe place’ is available to them, and try to avoid constantly checking on them if they have chosen to hide there
  5. Wherever they are in the house, plug in a TV or radio so there is a distracting background noise going on constantly to mask the noise of the bangs outside
  6. Try not to overly reassure your cat as it’s actually more beneficial to them if you act normally
  7. Make sure there is an indoor litter tray available for your cat to use, and pop it in a convenient location for them. If cats are very anxious, they may avoid visiting the toilet if they feel threatened or scared
Image of scared cat for Vets Now article on fireworks
When cats are scared they’re likely to pin their ears back

When to seek veterinary advice

If you are concerned over the level of anxiety displayed by your cat, it’s worth chatting with your vet to see what options are available to help your cat feel more calm and relaxed during scary events, such as fireworks.

Pheromones are natural chemicals that help to induce feelings of relaxation and security for them. They work really well for some cats and are definitely worth a try. Talk to your local vet about the various preparations available, such as the Feliway pheromone adapter, and see which may best suit your situation.