How do fireworks affect cats?

Cats associate loud noises with danger, therefore lots of cats become stressed as a result of fireworks and the loud noises they make.

The noise and flashes can cause cats to run off in a panic and, sadly, every year our emergency vets see hundreds of pets who have been involved in road traffic accidents after being spooked by loud bangs.

If your cat is scared of fireworks and ends up getting hurt, contact your vet, or out-of-hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic immediately.

My cat is scared of fireworks, how can I prepare them?

If your cat is sensitive to sound, try to desensitise them to the bangs long before the fireworks begin. This may involve using repeated, progressive exposure to firework noise to help them develop familiarity to it. It’s best to seek advice from a vet or animal behaviourist about this.

Make sure your cat is microchipped and the details are up to date so they can be more easily returned to you if they up going missing after fireworks.

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How will I know if my cat is stressed due to fireworks?

Fireworks affect cats differently to how they affect dogs. While dogs may show clear signs of distress, it can be more difficult to identify the signs in cats.

Some cats will do all they can to hide their fear of fireworks, 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. The best thing to do is keep an eye on whether your cat’s behaviour changes and if so, it could be a sign that they are afraid of fireworks.

My cat is scared of fireworks, how can I help?

If you are concerned about how stressed your cat is as a result of fireworks, 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 like fireworks.

There are also over-the-counter products, such as calming collars and plugins, which claim to send calming messages to help your cat feel calm during periods of high stress or anxiety.

Image of fireworks for Vets Now article on cats and fireworks and how do fireworks affect cats

How to comfort a scared cat during fireworks?

  • Make sure your cat can’t harm himself should he become scared. Even the most placid of cats can occasionally bolt for cover. Also, make sure they aren’t confined to one room.
  • Keep them indoors on the night of the fireworks and block off cat flaps so they can’t escape. Also, avoid leaving home alone.
  • Keep out flashes by trying to keep your cat somewhere with no windows or by blacking-out the windows.
  • Allow access to their favourite ‘safe place’, and try to avoid constantly checking on them if they have chosen to hide there
  • Drown out the noise as best as possible by providing ‘background noise from a TV or radio.
  • Acting normal is more beneficial than overly reassuring your cat. If you act worried then your cat may think they should be worried too. Also don’t shout at your cat if he’s destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset him more
  • Provide an indoor litter tray in a convenient location. If cats are very anxious, they may avoid visiting the toilet if they feel threatened or scared