Cats and the 4th of July

Sparklers, Firecrackers, and Rockets, OH MY!*

funny kitten pointing up by one paw. Good for any subject insertRaise your paw if loud noises scare you.

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is the most traumatic day of the year for cats. If you live in the U.S., unless you pack a tent, hiking boots, and your cat, and take off for the high country, it is unlikely you’ll spend a fireworks-free 4th of July. As with many of our traditional holidays, people tend to forget the meaning of “Independence Day,” but concentrate their celebration on “bombs bursting  in air” and barbecues. Although many municipalities don’t even allow the “safe-and-sane” fireworks anymore, people still seem to find the not-so-safe kind. In my neck of the woods, some fools take the “bombs” literally, as they explode one M-80 after another. These can be devastating to humans’ nerves, to say nothing of the poor cats’.

Prepare a Sanctuary

Frightened cats will immediately seek shelter. Many cats will run and hide under a bed or in a closet when the doorbell rings. Imagine what they will do when a bottle rocket goes off nearby. It will help your kitty if you prepare a sanctuary in advance, perhaps a bed inside a closet in an interior room. Rub a towel or small blanket with her scent and put it in the bed. Show her where it is well in advance of the 4th, so she will know it’s her own “safe place.” We usually spend the evening of the 4th in our bedroom with our cats on the bed, so we can pet them and soothe them when the fireworks start. It doesn’t totally take away their fear of loud noise, but it does help a lot.

If your cat is normally an indoor-outdoor cat, keep her indoors for the day. Unfortunately, there are still sadistic sub-humans around who think it’s great fun to tie a string of firecrackers to a cat’s tail. Don’t let your cat become a statistic and forever ruin your enjoyment of the holiday.

Having a Party?

Unless it’s a quiet family get-together, you might want to consider boarding your cat at your veterinarian’s if they will have staff on duty during the holiday. Otherwise, it’s best if you keep Fluffy locked in your room during the festivities, with her food, water, and litter box handy. Even if it’s just family, try to discourage feeding kitty scraps from the barbecue, though she might beg. Barbecue and the accompanyments that go with it are usually too rich and greasy for your cat’s metabolism, and she needs all her physical resources in optimum condition just to handle the fireworks later.

Consider Tranquilizers

No, not you! However, if your favorite feline is normally the skitterish type, you might want to ask your veterinarian about a mild sedative or tranquilizer, just to get the cat through the day. If you’re not fond of drugs for cats, there are some herbal concoctions that have a calming effect. Rescue Remedy®, available at health food stores, is recommended for shock, both physical and emotional. It is a mixture of several Bach Flower Remedies: impatiens, star of Bethlehem, cherry plum, rock rose, and clematis. Many veterinarians routinely prescribe it.

Try to take time out from the activities of the holiday to spend a few minutes with your cat, every couple of hours, petting her and talking to her. She needs to know you haven’t abandoned her during these stressful hours, and the respite will be good for you, too.

*From an article by Franny Syfuy on About.com