July 4th is a day filled with family cook-outs, fireworks, swimming, and in general, good times… for the humans, that is. For pets, Independence Day can be a day (and night) of unsettling noises, separation from the family, confusion and danger. Here are some tips to help keep your cat safe during this holiday.
Keep Your Pet Indoors
Even if you have a cat who is extremely street savvy, the sudden noise of firecrackers going off in the neighborhood can cause her to become fearful and disoriented. It’s not only the frightening noise that can cause panic, it can also be the burning smell of the firecrackers. A day that we associate with so much celebration is filled with things that can create panic in our animals.
Sadly, there are also some mean people in this world who delight in deliberately frightening animals by tossing firecrackers in their direction. It would be very easy for a cat or dog, trying to escape, to end up running right into oncoming traffic.
Many people begin their fireworks fun a couple days in advance of July 4th and continue on until their supply has run out. Keep your cat indoors a few days before the holiday.
If you have an exclusively outdoor only cat, please bring her indoors to keep her safe from the noise and danger of firecrackers. Veterinary clinics are very busy on July 5th treating the panicked and injured pets who were outdoors during the July 4th holiday. You don’t want to spend July 5th at the veterinary hospital.
Be Careful Going in and Out
If you’re having a cook-out, be careful as you go in and out the door to prevent an unwanted escape. Double check that doors are securely latched and that window screens don’t have any tears. Cats can easily push through a flimsy screen.
Even if you always keep your cat indoors, make sure her identification is current. It’s easy for a kitty to slip out the door while in a panicky state and end up lost, injured or even dead. Microchipping is the safest method of identification but it’s no good if you haven’t updated your information with the registry. Collars with identification should also be used but be sure the information on the tag is current. Surprisingly, I’ve come across many families who don’t pay attention to the fact that the phone number on the ID tag is an outdated cell number.
Set up a Sanctuary Room
If you’re having guests over or you’re going to be away, set up a sanctuary room for your cat that includes some safe hiding places and all the resources she’ll need. A sanctuary room will better ensure her safety if you have company going in and out of the house during a BBQ or outdoor celebration. Periodically, go in and check on your cat in a very casual way just to see how she’s doing. Some cat parents have had success with using pheromone therapy as a calming method. If your cat reacts favorably to Comfort Zone, plug in the diffuser in the sanctuary room or wherever your cat is spending the most time.
Take a Current Photo
If you’re like me, you’re always snapping photos of your cat but just in case you haven’t taken one in quite a while, have a current photo ready just in case your cat does get lost.
Don’t Leave Your Cat Home Alone
If your cat does react to the noise of fireworks or if she shares her home with a dog who gets very fearful of the noise, don’t leave your pets home alone. Hire a pet sitter or ask a neighbor to visit while you go out and watch the fireworks.
If your cat is getting anxious about the noise going on outdoors, distract her with interactive playtime. Keep your body language and tone very casual so that you send a message to her that all is ok in her world. If your cat is in a sanctuary room because you have company over, periodically go in and check on her to make sure she’s calm and perhaps do a little impromptu play session with her. YouTube has lots of interesting videos that showcase fish, birds and other critters that will keep kitty amused and distracted.