New Year's Eve means fireworks. And while it’s a nice way to start the new year, for cats fireworks are anything but fun and cause a lot of stress. After all, they hear sounds much better than we do. Here’s some advice on how to limit their stress and keep your cat calm during the festivities.
Keep your cat indoors
Get your cat into the house well in advance of midnight (or whenever the fireworks are planned) and close the cat flaps so that your pet can’t dash out if it’s spooked. Cats who panic outside are big furry balls of adrenaline: the moment they get freaked out, they don't think about where they’ll end up if they flee. And of course, you want to avoid them darting to dangerous places.
Create a safe space
Close the curtains or shutters so that the flashes of light are less visible or not visible. You can also try to silence the noise of the fireworks by turning up the radio or television - then the bangs are less noticeable and the fireworks are less disturbing to them.
Does your cat panic and seek safe haven under the seat or behind the cupboard? Your pet chooses that place because it feels safe there. So let your cat sit it out, even if the location doesn't seem ideal to you.
If you have a very anxious cat, medication can help. Always get a vet’s advice in advance, though. Some tranquilizers weaken their muscles, making your cat want to run away, but not be able to. That, of course, only makes the problem worse.
It takes several months of preparation, but you can also get your cat used to the sound of fireworks by playing them regularly. For example, there’s an album on Spotify that is specifically for this purpose. Habituation can help, but it's not a panacea. Fireworks are always bothersome to a cat.
Offer support and comfort
Do not leave your cats at home alone during fireworks. Your presence will reassure them. Don't act dramatically or try to be overly reassuring; keep calm and quiet.
You may have heard or read somewhere that you shouldn't comfort scared cats, because doing so would confirm their fearful behavior. It’s not true! If your cat actively seeks out your presence and asks for a hug, feel free to give it. After all, you are its rock in stressful moments.